Cats have a bad rep for being picky eaters, but if that’s the case, why do so many of them snack on trash?
There are other reasons why your cat may use the litter box besides defecation.
Is there a chance that your cat is sick? There are a few potential causes for your cat eating litter or other litter box debris.
Is It Normal for Cats to Eat Litter and/or Feces?
Animals with the disorder pica will eat anything other than food. This may include things like plastic, dirt, and even wool. Litter can be a tasty treat for cats with pica. Pica can develop at any age and continue into adulthood.
Coprophagia refers to the practice of consuming human or animal waste. It’s not pleasant to witness, but for many species, fighting is a normal way of life.
Although dogs are more commonly thought of as coprophagic, cats can also partake in the practice. Feces is a common food source for kittens and young cats. Kittens are born with completely empty digestive systems.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, kittens may benefit from ingesting microbes via feces in the first few weeks of life in order to create a healthy gastrointestinal ecosystem.
Coprophagia is a common problem in kittens, but most cats outgrow it as they are weaned and toilet trained.
Why Is My Cat Eating Litter?
Your cat may be eating litter or feces for a variety of reasons.
Your cat may be sick if it starts eating the litter box, and anemia is one possible cause of this behavior.
When there aren’t enough red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood, it’s called anemia. Owners of cats should look for signs of gum disease, such as pale, white, or bluish gums. Deficiencies in iron, trace minerals, vitamins, or even omega-3 fatty acids can all lead to anemia.
If your cat is anemic, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), kidney disease, bone marrow disease, or parasites.
Your vet will do a thorough physical examination and may suggest some tests, like a CBC and urinalysis, to rule out any underlying health issues. These tests will confirm if the cat has anemia and aid in ruling out other potential health issues.
If your cat isn’t getting enough to eat, it may resort to eating litter. This can happen if your cat isn’t getting enough of certain nutrients or if its digestive system isn’t working properly.
If your pet is showing signs of nutritional deficiency, consult your vet or a veterinary nutritionist for advice.
Curios kittens may try to eat clumping litter, so it’s best to wait until they’re older to switch brands. Clumping litter can cause a blockage in the digestive tract if ingested.
Keep an eye on the usage and make sure to only use non-toxic litter. You should take your kitten out of the litter box if you notice it eating the litter, but only after it has used the bathroom.
In addition to kittens, adult cats may eat litter if it has recently been switched to a wheat- or corn-based litter.
If you have more than one cat and notice that they are eating litter from the litter box, this could be a sign that you are not scooping it frequently enough.
International Cat Care recommends switching to a biodegradable litter if you currently use clumping litter made from clay. Clumping litter can cause respiratory and/or digestive problems if ingested by cats.
Make sure you’re giving your cat a high-quality, balanced commercial cat food, as vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been linked to an increase in coprophagia.
If your cat has been eating the litter box, you should take it to the vet for a checkup to make sure it is healthy. Salmonella and E. coli can be transmitted through cat feces.
Bring a stool sample to the vet if you notice that your cat’s feces are soft, hard, or a light color. The stool of a healthy cat is typically a dark brown color and soft, like clay.
Getting a proper diagnosis from your vet and treating the underlying cause of your cat’s litter-eating habit is the key to solving the problem.
How to Stop Your Cat From Eating Litter
Your cat’s clean bill of health will allow you to focus on stopping him from eating the litter.
There are many different kinds of litter on the market, including clay, clumping (scented and unscented), corn, wheat, and paper. If your cat doesn’t like one brand of cat food, try another.
- It’s possible that your cat is experiencing boredom. If you see it rummaging through the trash, try playing with it to distract it. Use a fishing pole toy, a crinkle ball, or a toy mouse to distract him from the box.
- Think about changing your cat’s diet. If you’re feeding a dry, store-bought food from the supermarket, it’s time for an upgrade. There are a plethora of superior dietary options.
- Encourage your cat’s innate hunting instincts. Consider food puzzle toys, which promote natural foraging behavior, in addition to increasing playtime. Many DIY options using everyday items and commercially available models are available at pet stores. Feeding your cat with a puzzle toy is a fun way to make it work for its food, which will keep it occupied and away from mischief.
- Give them some cat grass in a pot. Again, this provides your cat with a fun alternative to the litter box and something new to gnaw on. Don’t leave out catnip, the old reliable for making felines content. Growing your own and offering it fresh is one option, but you can also buy catnip-filled toys or sprinkle it on scratchers.