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Pica In Cats

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by Graceful-Lily, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Graceful-Lily

    Graceful-Lily Thread Starter *Alien* Top Cat

    May 30, 2016
    Orbiting the Earth. . .
    Has anyone had any experience with pica in cats before? If so, can you tell me how you managed the condition. Also, if you have any research articles on pica in cats, I'd love to read them as I'm trying to understand the disorder better.

  2. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ TCS Member Top Cat

    Jun 1, 2017
    I had a cat that would eat plastic, like the wrapper of a magazine or a supermarket grocery bag, whenever he got really hungry. I don't know it was dangerous, but he would routinely vomit afterwards so we wanted to stop it badly. It was shockingly hard to rid our home of exposed plastic. Ended up modifying our feeding practices so he never got that hungry, which resolved our situation. I'm guessing yours is a lot different.

  3. dahli6

    dahli6 TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Nov 16, 2016
    My Siamese had Pica. I tried to keep the house clean and keep things in order. Miku commonly stole food from us too. I have a lot of old videos of her reaching and grabbing for ice cream, chips, noodles. The worst of it was teeth grinding and excessive grooming. We ended up buying her a Chamomile collar and it curbed a lot of it. It is aggravated by anxiety so calming collars do help.
    amyoliver85 purraised this.

  4. mrsgreenjeens

    mrsgreenjeens Every Life Should Have Nine Cats Staff Member Advisor

    Aug 13, 2009

  5. sappig

    sappig TCS Member Kitten

    Nov 15, 2017
    My boyfriends cat would always eat my hair when she found a strand on the floor. I think PICA is often caused by stress, so find the cause for her stress. She was a really jealous and hated when we gave attention to the other cats. What we would do was clean the floor as often as possible and spend extra time with her in a seperate room. After a while it just stopped.

  6. Ardina

    Ardina TCS Member Super Cat

    Apr 10, 2017
    Saipha eats pretty much anything, though cloth is her favorite. Plastic, paper, pens, books, rugs, string, metal, rocks, cardboard bits, wooden corners of furniture, you name it. Thankfully, she has a stomach of steel as she's never had a GI obstruction (fingers crossed that this continues).

    Here are some things I've figured out:
    1) Cat-proof as much as possible. I never leave clothes lying around, not even a jacket. Make sure they're in a closet or someplace else inaccessible. If your cat is as clever as Saipha, block off the little gap under the closet door too, or you'll come home one day to find socks pulled out under the gap and chewed to pieces. Tie up all cords from window blinds and tuck them high up (don't be like me and have to replace all your blinds because they came crashing down, or worse, have to deal with a string ingestion). Also, don't buy soft cat toys. They're only going to be eaten. The only cat toys I buy are hard toys (plastic balls), large round soft toys without corners that she can't get into her mouth to chew up, and feathers.
    2) Use a bitter spray (I like Grannick bitter apple spray) and spray all your electric cords to prevent electric shock. Luckily, Saipha was fine, but my poor laptop charger was not. Spray your shoelaces too for good measure unless you like to constantly replace them.
    3) Keep a close eye on your cat and immediately take them to the vet at the first sign of problems - lethargy, vomiting, straining in the litterbox, no bowel movements in a while, etc. Make sure your vet knows that your cat has pica so he/she knows to rule out a bowel obstruction.
    4) Don't let your cat go too long between meals. This is the one time I would advocate for free-feeding. I personally don't for other reasons. But hunger can definitely make them more likely to eat non-edible things.
    5) Reduce stress as much as possible - more vertical territory, more litterboxes, and deal with inter-cat spats.
    6) It can get better! Saipha's pica is much better since I moved apartments (she used to live in just my bedroom before I moved, and now she gets access to the whole apartment) and got her a buddy to play with. Some cats can outgrow pica too. It's never fully gone away - I still do all of the things above, all of my pillows have chewed off corners, and I still have to replace shoelaces on occasion, but it's still way better than it was just six months ago.

    Good luck!

    Edited to add: Cat grass is a great edible alternative for your pica cat!
    abyeb purraised this.

  7. abyeb

    abyeb Charlie's Purrson Staff Member Forum Helper

    Feb 18, 2017
    I'm fairly sure Charlie has pica. He tries to eat anything; strings, plastic bags, tape, paper, feathers off of toys, hair elastics, the ring from milk cartons, buttons... this was frightening for me when I first got him, being a first-time cat owner. And, I had good reason to be, as this can be dangerous. But, over the years, I've figured out how to make a safe environment for Charlie. Some things I do, besides being sure that the floor is free of any unsafe items
    - cut the tails off of toy mice
    - remove any buttons from toys
    - "test out" how well-attached feathers are on toys by pulling out one. If it comes out too easily, they all come off. Charlie still enjoys wand-toys even if they're just a ball attached to a string. :lol:
    - store away all wand-type toys that are not in use
    - wand toys that are just a string isn't an option for Charlie. Something like Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Toy, much beloved by many cats, I can't use to play with Charlie because if he catches it, he starts eating the string
    - leaving toys like Petstages ORKAkat Wiggle Worm Cat Toy around for Charlie to chew on.
    - removing any tape from boxes before I give them to Charlie to play in
    sargon, Dacatchair and Ardina purraised this.

  8. Ardina

    Ardina TCS Member Super Cat

    Apr 10, 2017
    Really good advice, abyeb! Saipha's definitely eaten hair ties and tails off toy mice too. I swear her name was "Hey, what are you eating?" for the first year after I adopted her. :rolleyes:

  9. Graceful-Lily

    Graceful-Lily Thread Starter *Alien* Top Cat

    May 30, 2016
    Orbiting the Earth. . .
    That's just the thing, lots of people keep saying stress but there are also a few who say it's a complusive disorder. Especially when diet is fine and everything else is good. What about coprophagia? Doesn't anyone have experience with that too?

  10. Ardina

    Ardina TCS Member Super Cat

    Apr 10, 2017
    It absolutely is a compulsive disorder, but compulsions can be worsened by stress.

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