Why Would a Cat Eat Its Cat Litter?

If an adult cat eats litter, it may indicate an illness or an emotional problem.
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If your curious new kitten is sampling cat litter, she's likely just exploring and testing her world. Eating from the litterbox is far less common among adult cats. If your adult kitty is eating or licking her cat litter, she may have a nutritional deficiency or a medical problem.

Curious Kittens

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If your kitty has just been weaned, she may have the urge to taste nonfood items. This is common behavior among kittens, who are exploring their world and testing what is and isn't food. Some cat litter may be a hazard for a curious baby kitty, though. The ASPCA recommends you avoid using clumping litter for a kitty who is younger than 3 or 4 months of age, because the clay in the litter might block a kitten's tiny digestive tract. If you see your kitty trying out a mouthful of litter, remove it from her mouth and put any clumping litter out of her reach.

Adult Cats

If your grownup kitty suddenly starts eating cat litter, she may have a nutritional deficiency or an illness. An anemic cat may eat or lick cat litter trying to add needed minerals to her diet. Feline anemia indicates a deficiency in iron, trace minerals, vitamins or essential fatty acids. Untreated anemia can be fatal. If your adult kitty eats her litter, it also could signal kidney disease, feline leukemia or pancreatitis. Take your feline friend to the vet right away for a complete checkup.

Cat Psychology

Just as humans get stressed out, so do cats. If your pal is eating cat litter, she may be suffering from stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder or just plain boredom. Environmental changes such as a new pet in the house may stress a kitty who doesn't accept change well. Your kitty may also just be so bored that eating litter is at least something to do. More attention from you and some fun new toys could go far toward solving the problem.

Medical Consequences

Eating cat litter may cause problems in Fluffy's digestive tract, especially if the litter is the clumping kind, which contains a clay that expands considerably in the presence of moisture. If your adult kitty has been sampling from the litter box and shows signs of a blockage, such as loss of appetite and absence of feces in the litter box, take her to the vet immediately.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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