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Home > Cats > Why Is My Cat Eating Litter? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

Why Is My Cat Eating Litter? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

a orange cat wearing green fabric collar using silica sand crystal cat litter inside DIY pet toilet box

As cat owners, we know our pets are capable of some really strange behaviors. They ask us to pet them, then bite us, make strange chattering noises at birds outside the window, and stare at us from across the room, but one behavior we can do without is eating litter. Cats who eat litter scare many an owner and if this is what’s happening in your home, keep reading while we look into possible health risks. We’ll also discuss why your cat might be eating litter and what you might be able to do to prevent it so you can be better informed.divider-cat

The 4 Reasons Cats Eat Litter

1. Cats Like the Taste

The most likely reason your cat is eating litter is that it likes the taste. While cats generally don’t want to eat clay, there might be additives that your cat enjoys. Many people use alternative litters that cats are more likely to eat, including corn, grass, wheat, coconut husk, and walnut shell litters. Some cats might even enjoy eating paper litter as cats often eat paper around the house.

What Can I Do About It?

If you think your cat might be eating the litter because it likes the taste, the best thing to do is try a different brand. If you are using an alternative to clay to prevent dust in your home, you can still try one of the other alternatives. For instance, if you are using corn, switch to walnut shells.

2. Pica

Pica is an eating disorder that affects many animals, including humans, dogs, and cats. It causes your pet to eat items without nutritional value, including wood, plastic, metal, and litter. We often see it in kittens first, and some can grow out of it, while others will continue to eat into adulthood, and it can be challenging to intervene. If you have a Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese, or other Oriental cat or mix breed with Oriental genetics, your cat is even more likely to have pica.

What Can I Do About It?

Pica can be challenging to manage, and your cat may continue the behavior despite all efforts. Parents of these cats will need to be vigilant about keeping any items the cat might eat out of reach at all times. It can cost more than $1,000 to remove an item from the cat’s stomach.

Image By: Olga Malinina, Shutterstock

3. More Serious Health Problems

Unfortunately, other serious health problems may cause your pet to eat litter. Brain injuries can cause this to happen in some cases, and old age may also be the culprit.

What Can I Do About It?

The best way to help a cat with a serious health problem causing it not to realize it’s eating litter is to remove it when the cat’s not using it and use a safe, non-toxic litter that won’t harm the car if it swallows some.

4. Stress

Another common reason for odd behavior like eating litter is stress. A health issue or an environmental problem, such as a new cat or loud construction vehicles working in the street for several days, can cause stress. Cats suffering from high anxiety will usually show other symptoms like aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, and isolation.

What Can I Do About It?

If you feel that your cat is suffering from high anxiety, you’ll need to identify and remove the problem. In the case of the construction vehicles, hopefully, they will move on soon. If you have recently acquired a new pet, you may need to separate the animals and reintroduce them slowly to lower stress levels so your cat will stop eating the litter.

Old ginger cat resting on couch
Image By: shymar27, Shutterstock

Is Eating Litter Bad for My Cat?

Most litter is non-toxic to cats, and they all eat a small amount of it as they groom themselves after using a litter box. However, eating a lot of it can be problematic because clumping litter can clump in the stomach, blocking the intestines. Other letters might have fragrances or other chemicals to help them perform better that can be harmful to your cat to digest in large quantities. Silicone-based litter can be especially harmful to your cat should it eat too much.


In Summary

If you’re having difficulty preventing your cat from eating litter, we recommend switching to a natural brand for the time being. Grass and corn-based litter that do not clump should not cause your cat any physical harm if it eats it. Once your cat is out of danger, you can begin looking at our list of reasons and possible solutions that you can implement to find a permanent solution.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions.

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Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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