Why Is My Cat Eating Litter? Is It Safe?

Posted by Christy Caplan
Cat Litter

Kittens may take a bit or two simply out of curiosity! Older cats may do this because of something called "pica." Pica is a condition that makes your cat want to eat things that aren't edible, such as cat litter, feces, plastic and even wool.

We'll dive into these reasons why but if your cat is doing this for a medical reason, boredom or out of curiosity, experts tell us that cat litter crystals can be dangerous to your cat's health if ingested. Clumping clay litter that contains sodium bentonite is especially dangerous. GI blockage can happen. 

According to Vetinfo.com, normal cat behavior includes eating litter from time to time, so you might want to consider using a safe cat litter made with such ingredients as pine, paper, corn or wheat.  

Why do cats eat litter? Here are a few reasons that may be happening.

Anemia

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Cats suffering from anemia, a condition that decreases a cat's red blood cell count, often have pica.

Pica comes from your cat or dog eating non-food items. Anemia can be regenerative (caused by infection, toxins, or diabetes) or non-regenerative (caused by bone marrow disorders, chronic disease, or major nutritional disorders).

Anemia can indicate a deficiency in iron, trace minerals, vitamins, or essential fatty acids and is a reason a cat would look for minerals in their litter.

Kittens are curious

Kittens often eat litter out of simple curiosity!  

The ASPCA recommends you avoid using clumping litter for a kitty who is younger than three or four months of age because the clay in the litter might block a kitten's tiny digestive tract. They tell pet parents to remove litter from her mouth and put any clumping litter out of reach. 

Nutritional deficiencies

Is your cat getting sufficient nutrients from its food? According to experts at Vetted tell us that most cat litters contain minerals that cats can smell.  

"If they're lacking a certain vitamin or mineral in their diet such as vitamin A, magnesium, taurine, etc., they may start chewing kitty litter to try to solve the problem themselves. Nutritional deficiencies are particularly common among cats whose owners make their own cat food."

Remember that your cat may also simply be bored or obsessive-compulsive. If your cat is stressed then behavior could be the root of the problem so that's another reason to talk to your vet.

The litter box issues we mention here can be serious. If you find adult cats eating cat litter, you need to visit your vet. Whether it's due to a mineral deficiency, kidney disease, intestinal blockage, feline leukemia, or other health issues you should immediately stop using clumping cat litter and rule out a medical condition.

Do you live with a cat that eats their litter? Please let us know what you love about them in the comments. 

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Why Is My Cat Eating Litter? Is It Safe?