Why Does My Cat Eat Litter? [7 Causes & Solutions]

Is your cat eating litter? In this article, we’ll explain why your cat behaves this way and what you should do to make sure that he or she stays in perfect health.

Cat Eating Litter? Here’s Why

Cats are likely to chew on different objects because they’re curious. Here are a few reasons your cat might be eating litter:

  • Curiosity
  • Anxiety
  • Malnutrition
  • Underfeeding
  • Pica
  • Anemia
  • Cancer

There are a few things that you can do if you notice that your cat is eating litter.

  • Have a vet examine your cat thoroughly.
  • Run several tests to detect if your cat is suffering from anemia.
  • Switch to organic litter.
  • Keep the cat busy and distracted

Cats Can Ingest Litter Accidentally

Cats like to explore so it’s quite common for them to dig into the litter box. While doing so, some of the litter pellets and particles get trapped under the claws. These small particles later find their way into the cat’s mouth when he licks his claws or eats his food.

You don’t have to panic every time your cat digs into the litter box, even if you see him eating some litter. At the same time, you need to deprive him of this entertaining activity because it might be serious in the long run.

These small litter particles aren’t dangerous and usually get ingested easily. Your cat won’t show any symptoms if your feline friend accidentally eats a small amount of litter that passes through with feces.

However, if the cat eats a large amount of litter, this is a different story. Understanding why your cat eats litter can help you solve the issue.

Why Is My Cat Eating Litter?

You’ve probably asked yourself this question. Cats tend to be picky about the food they eat, so why would they be interested in eating litter? There are a few reasons why your cat might be acting this way.

Malnutrition

If your cat isn’t following a healthy diet, he might start to eat non-food items like littler to provide the body with the needed nutrients. The litter contains clay which is full of minerals that the cat might be starving for.

As a result, the cat will be drawn instinctively to clay in order to make sure that they’re consuming enough minerals and vitamins. You should give your cat the necessary supplements if his diet isn’t sufficient. In most cases, providing your cat with high-quality dry food is enough to keep him healthy.

Pica

Just like humans, cats can develop a tendency to eat non-nutritional items like litter. Pica is quite common in cats as they like to chew on paper, fabric threads, plastic, plants, and cords. They also like to eat litter, which can be a harmless behavior that doesn’t cause any serious circumstances, unless the cats consume large amounts of non-food items.

Pica is more common in oriental breeds like Burmese cats. This means that you need to pay attention to these breeds to make sure that the cat doesn’t swallow a large amount of non-food items that can’t be ingested and expelled out of the body.

Cute cat in plastic litter box on floor

Curiosity

This behavior is usually common in kittens as they try to explore the world. Kittens like to taste different objects so they might be curious to taste and eat litter. This is why a vet might recommend that you use organic litter if you have small kittens to make sure that they don’t suffer from any health issues if they ingest litter.

In older cats, this is usually a sign of a medical condition or is related to the cat’s breed. If you have an oriental cat, it might be better to stick to organic litter that doesn’t make the cats sick.

Anxiety

Cats might be trying to attract your attention or relieve stress by eating litter. Developing a condition of Pica due to stress isn’t highly common in cats, but is possible. If your cat has recently experienced major trauma, moved houses, or gone through a big change, they might start to eat non-food items like litter.

Your cat might also eat litter if they’re bored. The lack of activity and stimulation might push your cat to engage in unhealthy behavior.

A Medical Condition

Cats might be interested in eating litter due to a medical condition. If left untreated, the symptoms can manifest and affect your cat’s health in the long run.

  1. Anemia

The most common reason why cats eat litter might be anemia. Anemia is the lack of hemoglobin or red blood cells. These carry the oxygen and nutrients to the cells in the cat’s body to keep all the organs in perfect health. They also transport iron that keeps the body cells in excellent condition.

If your cat has pale skin, looks tired, and doesn’t act active, then he or she is probably suffering from anemia. In this case, he might be interested in eating litter to fight off the iron deficiency. In this case, the vet might advise you to switch to an organic type of litter that doesn’t harm the cat in the long run.

  1. Cancer

Keeping an eye on your cat will help you take the right action when they’re demonstrating an unusual behavior. If the cat is eating litter, licking metal objects, and silverware, this could be a sign of feline cancer or leukemia. Moreover, it can show that there’s blood loss due to blood-sucking parasites that affect your cat’s health.

Feline leukemia is a type of blood cancer that transfers from one cat to another through saliva, blood, urine, and feces. Feline leukemia has several symptoms and anemia is one of them.

Another symptom is that your cat will have yellow eyes, pale gums, and experience bladder problems, respiratory infections, and lack of energy. If you see that your cat is eating litter and is showing most of these symptoms, your vet will probably run some tests to detect feline leukemia.

What Can You Do if Your Cat is Eating Litter?

Ingesting a large amount of litter can put your cat’s life in danger. Litter is made of non-nutritional matter that can’t be digested. This means that their intestines might be blocked.

If your cat is eating litter, there are a few things that you can do.

  • Take the cat to the vet to check that there’s no internal blockage. The vet might give the cat some medications to help expel the litter. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to remove the blockage.
  • A general examination is recommended to understand the reason why your cat is eating litter. Eating litter is not common among adult cats and can be related to anemia. If your cat suffers from anemia, the vet will prescribe supplements that help him or her feel stronger and better.
  • In the meantime, switch to an organic and biodegradable litter. This won’t affect the cat’s health as seriously so it might be a safer option.
  • Increase the fiber content in your cat’s diet. Cat grass is full of nutrients and doesn’t affect the cat’s digestive system.
  • Introduce your cat to fun toys and activities. These will keep the cat busy so he or she doesn’t chew on litter.

Young cat use the toilet pan filled

Conclusion

A kitten might chew on litter because he is curious or bored. But an adult cat eating litter can be a symptom of a life-threatening medical condition. Taking your cat to the vet is the smart decision because the vet will examine the cat and evaluate your kitty’s situation.

Keeping an eye on your feline friend is recommended so you can notice any unusual behavior. Although eating litter might be a harmless behavior, the consequences can be fatal.

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