Are you looking for the answer to the question “Why is my cat eating litter?” Knowing how to stop a cat from eating litter is essential to all fur parents. After all, seeing your cat eating litter simply doesn’t sound right. Well, if he’s just a curious kitten, you can feel relieved now. But if Tom’s already a biggie, something must be wrong.
You got to help your kitty, I know.
And that’s why I’m writing down the most probable reasons why your cat is nibbling on his litter and what you can do to stop this abnormal behavior. Read on so you can cease worrying about your kitty.
Why is my cat eating litter?
If you’ve caught your cat eating cat litter, understand that he could be doing this for several reasons. In some cases, it might be because of an underlying health issue. At times, it could be a behavior problem. It’s important to get the right diagnosis first before getting into corrective measures.
The following are the most common causes of litter-eating behavior in cats.
It’s possible that your cat is sick and could be suffering from anemia. This illness occurs when your feline’s red blood cells or hemoglobin are at abnormally low levels.
You should check your cat’s gums to see if they’re white, bluish, or pale. The discoloration is one of the symptoms that your cat could be deficient in iron, vitamins, trace minerals, or essential fatty acids.
In much worse cases, litter eating could be a sign of feline leukemia, which also causes anemia.
How to verify this condition
If you suspect your cat to have anemia, it’s best to consult a veterinarian. He will perform a standard medical test that includes a CBC or complete blood count to examine if your kitty really has the illness.
Another possible reason why your cat is snacking on litter is that he’s not getting enough nutrition from his original food. He may be lacking in vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), taurine, pyruvate kinase, magnesium, sodium, or a combination of these vitamins and minerals.
Some litters, especially clay-based ones, contain minerals. Interestingly, cats may be drawn to eating such kinds of litter if they’re suffering from nutritional deficiencies.
If you think this is the case with your feline, be sure to visit the vet. He or a veterinary nutritionist he knows can give you the necessary guidelines and recommendations for your cat’s diet, as well as the required supplements.
Luckily, not every cat that eats litter has an underlying health problem. Some of them, especially kittens, are just too curious about those litter pellets or grains. They’re in their stage of life in which they want to explore and learn through senses — their sense of taste included.
If you see a kitten eating litter, immediately remove the little fellow from the litter box. (If he’s still peeing, you have to let him finish first, of course.)
Also, take note that if a kitten swallows a clumping litter pellet, the litter can cause intestinal blockages and other health complications. So, before you even invite a kitty to the litter box, make sure that what’s inside is toxic-free, non-clumping, and even edible (if possible).
Meanwhile, most cats retain their curious nature even as they grow older. This curiosity is often triggered by change. For instance, you’ve just switched from silica crystal litter to a corn or wheat litter. These biodegradable litters that come from edible sources can naturally attract your cat’s curious taste buds.
Leaving the Mother Too Soon
Some kittens are removed from their mother too soon, i.e., before they’ve reached the age of eight weeks. As a result, these kittens have been deprived of learning from their mother about doing things properly. This includes how the litter box should be used, and how the litter is supposed to bury their waste, instead of being eaten.
In this case, you’ll need to train the kitten yourself. Teach him about proper litter box behavior so he can distinguish between what is food and what is not.
As your cat grows older, his vital organs — including his kidneys — can get less efficient. The kidneys are somewhat forced to work harder to accomplish their job. Thus, older cats are prone to having kidney disease.
One of the symptoms of kidney disease in cats is litter eating. Other signs include general weakness, weight loss, vomiting, and depression.
If you’ve observed these signs in your cat, be sure to take him to the vet asap.
The vet will conduct a urinalysis to determine the concentration of your cat’s urine. If it’s too dilute, it means that your kitty possibly has kidney disease. If the feline shows any sign of a blockage, the vet will conduct an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or radiographs.
How to stop a cat from eating litter?
First things first. When your cat has already been chewing up on litter for some time, and you’ve been using clumping litter, I strongly advise you to take him to the vet immediately for a checkup. You need to know if there’s been any case of intestinal blockage or something worse in him. This way, you can prevent any further complications.
When those worst fears have already been cleared out, it’s time to take proper measures back home. You wouldn’t want to tolerate any more litter eating. To stop the behavior, do the following.
Shift to a safe, non-clumping litter
Take this as a precautionary measure. Just in case your cat does it again, at least, this time, it’s a non-clumping litter. If you want to take a step further to the safer side, use a biodegradable and kitten-safe cat litter — even if yours is already a big boy.
Monitor your cat’s litter use
Observe your kitty closely. Remove him from the litter box as soon as he tries to eat the litter. He could get tired of it pretty soon.
Feed your cat better
Upgrade your cat’s food based on the recommendations of his vet or his veterinary nutritionist. Make sure he’s eating his food well and that he has a bowl of fresh and clean water readily available.
Offer other chewing toys
If your cat is just playing detective and is simply and plainly curious, then offer him something else to be curious about. Divert his attention to cat toys or some edible treats.
Give your kitty some catnip
Speaking of igniting your cat’s curiosity on other things, try giving your cat some catnip — if you haven’t done that yet. Grow some catnip so you can have an unlimited supply of new meowy fun.
Spend more playtime with your cat
At times, your cat could be more than bored. He could be craving for your attention. And he could be venting out by nibbling on litter or sometimes even sleeping on the litter box. If that’s the case, then you have to take some time off each day to play with your cat.
Take your Tom to the great outdoors, walk him, or let him watch birds. Even better, you can give your cat a partner to play with. It could be another pet or simply another feline like him.
Have regular visits to the vet
And finally, speaking of regularity, please refrain from ignoring your vet schedules. Those regular checkups can save more than nine cat lives.
Cats are naturally curious and often nibble on things they’re not supposed to. But if they’re eating litter, you should do everything you can to stop them.
Now, let me ask you. Is your cat eating kitty litter?
If so, then:
- Investigate why (review the possible reasons above).
- Take your cat to the vet.
- Apply the measures I’ve shared.
- Let me know how it all went.
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Now, you have the answer to the question of why is my cat eating litter, and when you come back here, I hope your kitty’s problem has already been resolved. Good luck!