Are you a pet parent with a kitty eating litter? If the cat that is eating litter is a young kitten under three months of age, it may well be curiosity that is causing such behavior. Kittens are similar to human babies, as they have the tendency to put everything in their mouths. So, it is pretty common to see a kitten eating litter and they will probably grow out of the behavior with time; you only need to keep a closer watch.
However, when an adult cat takes to ingesting litter, then it may be a sign of some serious medical condition or vitamin deficiency. But then, it may well be that your furry friend is bored, and just needs some distractions. On the other hand, ingesting clumping litter can portend danger for your feline friend, as it is likely to give rise to intestinal blockage or choking – the vet should be consulted in such situations. Read on to get the full details on cat eating litter, including the causes and possible solutions.
Why Do Cats Eat Cat Litter?
Different reasons may be causing your feline friend to ingest litter, they include;
Ingesting litter may well be a sign that your kitty is ill, and anemia is one of the conditions that can make it display this sign. Anemia is a deficiency of hemoglobin and red blood cells and cat adopters should be on the lookout for white, pale, or bluish gum. Also, anemia may be an indication of deficiency in trace minerals, essential fatty acids, iron, or vitamins.
Additionally, a feline ingesting litter may also indicate leukemia, which causes anemia. In this case, the vet will recommend a standard examination including urinalysis and CBS (complete blood count) The CBC works effectively to identify anemia, while the urinalysis will reveal the concentration level of your cat’s urine – if the urine happens to be too dilute, it may indicate kidney disease. And if the symptoms are indicating a blockage, the vet will recommend MRI and radiographs.
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It may be that your feline friend is not getting enough of the essential nutrients from its kibble. Deficiencies in Thiamine or Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, Magnesium, L-Carnitine, Sodium, Pyruvate Kinase, Taurine may make your pet cat start eating litter. Clay-based litters come with certain minerals which may serve as a compensation for some of these deficiencies. This demands the attention of a veterinary nutritionist or a vet who may recommend some supplements or dietary changes.
When kittens eat litter, it may be out of natural curiosity, so recommendations are that you should avoid using clumping litter for the young cats until they grow older. When clumping litter is ingested by a kitten, the resultant effect may be an intestinal blockage. Also, you should not go for toxic litter for your kitty, get the non-toxic ones, and be sure to monitor use. Once you observe your kitten ingesting the litter, promptly remove it from the box – but ensure that that your little friend is through with its business before taking it out.
Even the adult cats can be caught snacking on their litter, especially if the type of litter in the box was just recently changed. For example, you can decide to change your cat’s paper-based litter to a corn-based or a wheat one.
As your furry friend grows older, its kidney will equally grow weaker and subsequently become less efficient. What happens is that the two kidneys will now have to work overtime to get their jobs done. According to statistics, about 30% of kitties over seven years of age are battling with kidney disease. Some additional symptoms of this condition, apart from ingesting cat litter include weakness, vomiting, depression, and weight loss.
Feline leukemia may be another reason why your cat eats litter. This condition is rated as the 2nd leading cause of death in kitties. Leukemia targets the cat’s bone marrows as well as blood circulation resulting in pica (the consumption of non-food items) and anemia. Other signs of feline leukemia include; weight loss, diarrhea, depression, pale gums, and fever.
How to Stop Cat from Eating Litter
Here are a few solutions to help prevent your cat from eating litter;
Change the Litter
Once the vet has given your kitty a clean bill of health, the onus is now on you to focus on redirecting its behavioral tendency of ingesting litter. Important to note that cat litter comes in different types, we have the clumping litter, clay, wheat, corn, paper-based, and there is equally the scented and unscented. If you observe your kitty ingesting one type, try another.
Redirect the Cat’s Behavior
Your kitty may just be bored, thus, if you observe it consuming litter, use play and toys to redirect its behavior – tossing a toy mouse, a crinkle ball, or dangling a fishing pole may do the trick.
Re-Evaluate Its Diet
Re-evaluate your kitty’s diet; try upgrading its current kibble, especially if you have been feeding it with dry food from the supermarkets. We have several other options of high-quality food that are known to be more nutritionally complete.
Boost the Feline’s Natural Prey Behavior
Enhance the natural prey behavior of the cat. While ramping up playtime, check out some food puzzle toys that can encourage natural forage demeanor. You can even DIY your cat’s own with the aid of some common household items, but there are still many of them at the pet stores. Puzzle toys are viewed as fun ways in which your feline friend can work for its food – this distracts it from unpalatable behaviors.
Offer the Cat Some Catnip
Try distracting your kitty from the litter with a pot of cat grass to chew on, and always remember catnip – that happy feline standby. You may decide to grow yours and offer it to the cat fresh or you can purchase some catnip-filled toys, or have it sprinkled on scratchers.
Try Preventing Some Medical Conditions That Cause Litter Ingestion
On the health conditions that can cause a cat to ingest litter, anemia is preventable, if nutritional deficiency is the cause, or if it comes from ingesting toxic medications. Avoid treating the cat with human medications, and be sure to furnish it with a high-quality diet that will engender good health.
Nutritional deficiency is also preventable – all you need to do is to feed your cat with the appropriate diet and ensure it has received the required vaccination if needed; even feline leukemia is equally avoidable with a vaccine. Sadly, kidney diseases are not preventable since they emanate from old age. For further help, consult the veterinary care provider in your locality.