The Ultimate Cat Behavior Guide.
THE PROBLEM CAT EATING INEDIBLE OBJECTS
IMPACT ON OWNER
- damage to clothes, fabrics and electrical wiring
- may need to take cat to vet if obstruction occurs
CAT’S PERSPECTIVE –
- natural hunting behaviour to tear and pluck before
PICA is the term used for the craving of unusual articles. The ingestion of non-food items is occasionally seen in cats. Pure breed Orientals eg Siamese and Burmese are most commonly affected especially those that are kept solely indoors. Some cats only lick odd materials, others chew and rip but don’t actually eat the material and others go the whole way and eat everything. Fabric-eating seems to start around puberty, most often with wool, but can progress to other fabrics and materials including cotton, nylon, wood, plastic, rubber and plants. Most of the time, the material will go through the cat without too many problems, but occasionally cats require surgery to remove these foreign materials. Any cat known to eat foreign material that becomes lethargic, off his food and starts vomiting or drooling saliva excessively should be taken to a vet asap as he may need surgical removal of the offending item.
Possible theories for eating inedible items include
1. Indoor cats denied the opportunity to hunt, stalk, pounce, tear off feathers and skin and eat. Since ordinary cat food gives no chance of tearing and ripping, the cat looks for this somewhere else.
2. Genetic predisposition especially in Oriental breeds.
3. Redirected suckling behaviour in cats that were weaned too early.
4. Boredom and lack of stimulation.
5. Triggered by stressful event.
6. Overdependence on the owner, eating fabric when separated from them.
7. Obsessive compulsive disorder.
8. Insufficient fibre in diet.
9. The odour of lanolin in wool is similar to the odour of the fur around the nipples of the kitten's mother so provides comfort and security.
10. Medical disorders like hyperthyroidism, anaemia or mouth/tooth pain.
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Paul, Sarah & Merlin