Cat Eating Litter: Crucial Reasons and Solutions

(Last Updated On: April 2, 2020)

Chances are you have recently caught your cat eating cat litter from your auto litter box and have taken to the internet with concern. We understand that, and commend you on seeking out the right answers to help your kitty. Consuming cat litter may be as harmless as simple curiosity, but, beware, it could be an underlying health condition.

Why is My Cat Eating Litter?

Eating litter is definitely not a normal behavior to see in cats. When you observe this action in your kitties, you should be vigilant and get in touch with your veterinarian to see if they recommend you bring your kitty in for a visit. While it could be nothing, it is always best to get it checked out since there are some underlying diseases that could be the culprit of kitty’s strange behavior.

Nutritional Deficiency

You may have recently got your cat and are unsure of the conditions of her past or where she came from. There may be nutritional deficiencies causing the odd behavior. Much like a cat eating grass to curb an upset tummy, a cat may try to eat litter if it is the only thing available in order to make themselves feel better.

There are key ingredients that your cat requires in order to live a fulfilling and healthy life, and a lack of these vital nutrients may cause her to compensate by eating clay. Your cat requires L-Carnitine, magnesium, sodium, taurine, vitamin A, and vitamin B1 along with many other vitamins and minerals.

Curious or Unstimulated

Curiosity is a well-known personality trait in our furry feline companions. Kittens have been known to eat litter simply because they are curious and do not know any better.

Cats who are extremely unstimulated may also show this behavior. Play with your cat and provide them with toys, scratching posts, and other interactive items for entertainment and their mental health.

Anemia

This is a fairly common issue for cats who are eating their litter. Anemia is a health condition that decreases a cat’s red blood cell count, leading to potentially deadly issues. Pale, white, or blue gums are another sign of anemia. If either of these signs are present, please get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Anemia is typically caused by a nutritional deficiency, but this will need to be tested in the laboratory by your vet.

Pica

Pica, the urge to eat non-food items, can be caused by anemia and some other health conditions, like feline immunodeficiency virus or leukemia. Pica can also be a sign that your cat is bored or has anxiety.

What Can Happen to Your Cat?

Clay litter is known for its clumping properties. Cats groom themselves and may accidentally ingest a few grains, but this won’t cause any issues. The problem comes in from the amounts that a kitty is consuming when they are purposefully eating the litter.

Large amounts of clumping clay litter can enter a cat’s intestinal tract and cause blockages. This can also occur with other litters that swell as they absorb moisture, like newspaper litter and even some corn varieties.

When the litter blocks the intestines, this can eventually lead to damage of the protective lining. If it is left untreated, it will cause bowel ischemia. This restricts the flow of blood to the bowel which can lead to blood toxicity, and possible sepsis.

Symptoms to keep an eye out for include vomiting and your kitty refusing to eat more food. Likely, your cat will need surgery and this is considered a medical emergency. Do not wait to seek out help from a veterinarian.

How to Stop Your Cat from Eating Litter?

If you suspect that your cat is eating more litter than just a curious bite, then you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are some other things you can do while you wait for test results or for appointment day:

Diet

Your cat could likely use an upgrade to their diet. This includes wet and dry food that contains nutritionally complete components. High-quality cat foods can be purchased online or at pet specialty stores. Employees at these shops tend to love animals and will be glad to help you with any questions you have about upgrading your cat’s food.

Boredom

Are you providing your cat with adequate activities throughout the day? Environmental enrichment is vital for the well-being of your kitty’s mental and physical health. They need to run, play, and pretend to hunt toys and food puzzles. Having multiple areas in the home that are for the cat, like cat trees or scratching posts, will also give her more confidence and help prevent undesirable behavior.

Cat Grass

Your feline friend may just want to chew on something. While waiting to see your vet, you could get your cat some cat grass. This will give them something to chew on aside from the litter that will not lead to as much damage. While at the store, you might want to pick up some catnip, just to be nice.

Conclusion

Getting your cat back to their normal, healthy self is the goal for this article. With careful observation and the assistance of a veterinarian, you can feel safe knowing that you will have answers and a way to help curb this behavior. Be sure to give your kitty extra hugs and love during this stressful time for them.

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