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Does Your Cat Eat Strange Things?

Is cat pica dangerous? Obviously munching on live power cords can be hazardous to a cat’s health–but the other danger is that ingested materials can get stuck in your cat’s stomach or intestine, which can obstruct the passage of food and may cut off the blood supply to organs–either scenario can be fatal.

As well, many  houseplants are toxic to cats; chewing or eating these plants can have mild symptoms as well as fatality. If your cat has a history of ingesting non-food items and becomes lethargic, vomits, or displays other concerning behavior, take them to your veterinarian immediately. (See the ASPCA’s full list of plants toxic to cats.)

Treatment. Treatment is really just a matter of deterring. It’s important to determine if there is an underlying cause to your cat’s preference for eating non-food items. After your cat’s good health has been established, try these tricks to help keep your feline from getting into trouble by ingesting potentially dangerous items.

  • Remember to keep no-no items like plastic, tape,  clothing, blankets, houseplants and electric cords out of the reach of your cat.
  • Provide alternative items to chew or eat–Food-dispensing toys, tough cat toys, or pieces of rawhide can be used to redirect your cat’s chewing behavior to more appropriate and safe items.
  • For cats that snack on houseplants, fill small flowerpots with grass or catnip as an alternative. And did you know that birdfeed can be used as a safe source of plant seed?
  • Provide structured play. Many cats chew on household items out of boredom. Offer interactive toys and dedicate some time each day to play with your cat.
  • It may help to boost the fiber in your cat’s diet. In addition to adding more dietary fiber, high fiber foods usually contain fewer calories. Your kitty may be able to satisfy his craving to eat more while still maintaining his weight. (Talk to your veterinarian before making any changes to your cat’s diet.)

Does your cat eat strange things? I recently wrote about why cats leave “gifts” and the comments were fascinating. I expected tales of small trophies–but socks from the neighbor’s house and live opossums? Wow. I bet you have great stories about your cat’s odd (or not so odd) eating habits. Leave a comment below and tell us what strange things your cat likes to eat.

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

257 comments

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12:00PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

My cat loves melon, she goes nuts over it :)

10:27PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

while you should always get your pets checked out if they are exhibiting 'off the book' behavior, it is usually no big deal. i've had MANY cats and dogs for 25 years, and i'd say cats have a far greater range of personality uniqueness. my cat penny would not touch anything other than 'normal' cat food- cat food, tuna, chicken, etc. while her daughter egypt wouldn't touch any normal cat food and preferred potatoes and gravy. we had to force feed her most of the time to get her protein requirements. i had another that loved chex mix and ranch dressing, another that preferred okra of all things, and some others that liked beans, various veggies, etc. etc. etc. they all went on to live long, healthy lives. cats are just badass in that way and guard their personality preferences like no other animal. get them to the vet if they are eating paste, or bleach, but if its just strange foods, its usually ok (and look up the toxic foods list for cats)

9:20PM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

I have two male cats that like to lick my hair when its got hairspray in it. just the male cats do this. the females do not.

9:19PM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

I have two male cats that like to lick my hair when its got hairspray in it. just the male cats do this. the females do not.

12:14AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

:-P

8:43PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Celina would jump onto the table, or your shoulder and DEMAND any .."PICKLE" OR "PICKLE RELISH", THAT ANY HUMAN WAS ATTEMPTING TO EAT, when she was pregnant and nursing!!!....My Vet just shook his head,laughing, .."WHO KNOWS WHY!?!" and said, "Don't serve any pickles at any dinner partys for the next 2 weeks!!!..and we will see you and Celina in 2 weeks for her spay appointment!"

2:16AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

We rescued two 4 month old kittens 4 yrs. ago. They chewed up rubber bands, electric cords and loved plastic bags!!

At 9 months old, our little girl kitty stopped eating and would just lay around. I took her to the vet and he said she was anemic. I told him about her chewing habits, but he siad that wouldn't cause it. He kept her for 6 days after he did a complete blood transfusion and to watch her. We almost lost her!!

I hid the rubber bands and the plastic bags and rubbed the electric cords with vicks!!

Yesterday, I bought a bag (plastic) of candy and left the room for 20 minutes. Guess who was chewing on the bag when I came back in. Yes, it was little Miss Tippy!! I guess it something she will outgrow one day, just not today!!

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Nakki, a seal point Siamese back in the 60s used to raid corn cobs off a neighbour's plants in their garden like a raccoon, haul his prize back home and dine on the entire cob. He also enjoyed egg rolls and would wail loudly for a piece whenever a bag of Chinese food entered the house

.In 1976, Zimbabwe, a blue lynx point would tear off the rind of a cantaloupe to dine on the sweet flesh inside.

2:55PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

My cat Jager has been licking ashtrays which I find not only disgusting but upsetting even more so. I now don't leave them any place he can access. My female, Shy Ann I found eating to eat cat litter. This I attribute to anemia since she recently had her first litter of kittens. So, if anyone can shine more light on my babies behaviors your comments are welcome!

2:53PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

I have noticed one thing one of my cats like believe it or not is white color food items.

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