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My Cat Chews and Eats Things!

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

My 6-year-old male cat chews and eats plastic bags, ribbons, and basically anything he can find lying around at night and then vomits them up. This has been going on for a few years now, but is increasing to almost daily. I try to keep everything out of his sight and reach, but he then just finds something else bad to eat. I realize this can be very dangerous to him and want to try to stop it. Someone suggested he needs a vitamin because he is craving something he is finding in these plastic bags or ribbons. Please help!

Kimberly Kaluf


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. Pica is the term used to describe the craving and ingestion of nonfood items. It can be caused by behavioral disorders, primary gastrointestinal maldigestive and malabsorptive disorders (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, severe inflammatory bowel disease, and intestinal lymphosarcoma), endocrine disorders (hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes mellitus) cause polyphagia (increased appetite) and iron deficiency anemia.

I'd recommend having your cat checked to make sure there is no underlying medical problem that maybe causing "pica". Once no underlying medical problem is identified, then it may be behavioral.

In general, Siamese cats are very smart and like to be very busy. I'd recommend that you ensure your cat has plenty of toys and play time. Enrich his environment to make sure he is getting the stimulation he needs. Be careful that anything your cat may want to chew on or eat is picked up so your cat can't ingest it. The concern is that if a cat ingests something that he may not be able to vomit or pass – he can get a gastrointestinal foreign body which can be life-threatening.

An article that might be helpful to you is Pica in Cats. Another article that might be useful is Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra




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