My 5 month old kitten eats the litter!

by Emily
(Cleveland, OH, USA)

My boyfriend and I found our kitten when she was only 3 weeks old, thrown out of a car and sick with an upper respiratory infection.

We nursed her back to health and she has always been a spunky little fighter, full of life.

After a few weeks of helping her eliminate, we introduced her to the litter box and she took well to it.

I noticed she thought it was a game to jump in and out of it, but I didn't think much of it.

After her respiratory infection came back, we thought she was developing pneumonia because of open mouth breathing, we rushed her to the ER vet, who did a chest X-ray and discovered litter in her belly! (no pneumonia)

After paying closer attention to her "play" in the litter box I noticed she would go down to sniff the litter but was eating one piece of litter each time.

So I switched to recycled paper for a while, but it is a pain! So now that she's 5 months I thought I would introduce her back to the litter, and the problem is still there!

She thinks it is a huge game! She does use the litter box and never goes anywhere else, but how do I get her to stop eating it!?

My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear you're having troubles with your kitten, Emily. Thank you for rescuing her!

The craving for non-edible or non-food items is a condition called pica. Cats have been reported to eat odd things when they have mineral deficiencies.

Some cats will eat their feces (coprophagia), with or without the cat litter, when they're afflicted with pica. Others will eat rocks or other items.

Pica may have a behavioral cause, or it may be physical/medical. A veterinary examination with specific attention to this behavior is warranted.

I'll refer you to an article by Dr. Arnold Plotnick...

Eating clay litter may be a sign of anemia.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how she gets along.

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