Eating Cat Litter!

by Shannon

She's messing on the carpet and eating her cat litter!

Daisy was the perfect cat until recently. She started peeing little by little at each heat cycle. I thought OK I get her fixed then that problem should stop. I have not been able to have that done yet due to financial problems.

Now she is messing on the carpets... in three different doorways. So I have been putting her in a cage at night and placing her in the litter box as soon as I get up.

I know one other problem bothering her is the terrible flea problem. This is the first year they have been out of control.

Tonight I was shocked to see her licking her box and eating her litter!?! I have no clue but would love a guess at why shes doing this.

I know I have to get rid of the fleas & have her spayed. Do you think after that she will be back to normal? I always use vinegar to get rid of the smell in my carpet. Thanks for any help!

My Thoughts: Wow, you've got a lot going on there, and there could be multiple causes for your problems, so let's try separating things out and think it through.

Eating cat litter could be either physical or emotional, but it's commonly due to an illness or dietary deficiency. There is a condition called pica that is caused by a deficiency in the diet.

Your cat is possibly trying to get minerals that she's not getting enough of from her food (or an illness has made her deficient in a mineral, such as iron).

A veterinarian would have to run blood tests to diagnose it, and then you might need to feed iron (or other) supplements.

Fleas can spread parasites (such as tapeworm), and parasites may cause anemia.

I've read where some flea infestations can be bad enough to cause significant blood loss just from the biting alone. Also, some cats are highly sensitive to fleas, and they can cause a lot of stress.

"A cat that suddenly starts eating litter is almost always sick in some way," says Dr. Scott Nimmo, a small animal veterinarian from the UK.

There have been reports that cats with anemia or other illnesses, such as feline leukemia may eat cat

Also see this forum thread where Dr. Van Lienden responds (very last post on the page) to another cat parent who has a litter eater at home.

So, heat cycles + fleas + possible internal parasites = blood loss = mineral deficiency = eating cat litter? Could be!

The litter box problem may or may not be marking behavior, rather than a true case of inappropriate elimination. Also, eating cat litter can lead to a bowel obstruction, so the plumbing may be all out of sorts.

Females do mark their territories, and this behavior is usually worse in cats that have not been spayed. Both urination and defecation may be used for marking, although urination is certainly the more common behavior we see.

Stress is a major factor in litter box problems. The combination of heat cycles, whatever is causing her to eat cat litter, and possibly unknown factors may have just overwhelmed her.

My concern about the caging may be that it's causing even more stress, but that would be your call of course. The challenge with caging is that it may seem to curb the litter box problem, but it's difficult to know for sure that she's been retrained until you stop using the cage.

Usually, isolation retraining would start with confinement to a room with all the amenities. Toys, a bed, a litter box, food, water, and sunlight.

Once your cat gets back on track, then you'd give her access to the rest of the house. Caging, with a large cage, would usually be for extreme cases if the above didn't work or you couldn't isolate her in a room. I don't want to derail your current efforts though if you think it's working.

I have heard great things about Feliway with respect to litter box problems. It's hard to fight physical causes without resolving them first, but if there's an emotional component (there often is), the Feliway may help.

Unfortunately, all of this costs money, I know, but I hope that helps a bit. Good luck with her and please let us know how it goes with her so that others who have these problems will know what to do.


P.S. Lots of praise when she does things right may work wonders to help her unstress. And it doesn't cost anything. :)

Comments for Eating Cat Litter!

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Nov 01, 2010
eating cat litter
by: Anonymous

eating cat litter could be an anemia problem or kidney failure. my cat just started eating cat litter 5 months after being diagnosed with kidney failure

Nov 01, 2010
get help
by: Anonymous

if your cat has flea problems and needs to be neutered/spade and you can't afford it than bring it to a shelter for discounted help or give it up. It is not fair to the cat to have flea problems or other problems....

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