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What to Do If Your Cat Eats Weird Things


Have you ever caught your cat eating houseplants, ribbon, or thread from the couch?. This practice of eating non-food objects is called “Pica”. Although it may appear to be a silly, harmless habit, it can cause serious harm to your pet if not examined.

Feline pica can affect cats of any age; it is most common in kittens and young cats. It usually begins around three months, when kittens first arrive at their new homes.  Some cats may grow out of it, while others do not and become extremely resistant to change. Approximately 2.5 percent of cats in the United States are affected by Pica.

  1. Common Object Cat Can Eat

There is a long list of nonfood objects that a cat with pica can eat, however, common objects include


  • Ribbon
  • Thread
  • Strings
  • Shoelaces
  • Cat toys
  • Plants
  • Electric cords
  • Phone cords
  • Wool
  • Fabric
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Paper


  1. Causes Of Pica

The exact cause of pica is unknown however; experts link this problem with the following factors

Environmental Causes


Some environmental and management factors like lack of activity and playtime, boredom, loneliness, and stress play a major role in the development of this disease


Nutritional Deficiencies


The deficiency of certain nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals can cause pica.




The following cat breeds are more prone to pica genetically


·       Siamese cats

  • Burmese cats
  • Oriental breeds
  • Tonkinese cats




Normally young cats with age starting from three months have more chance to develop this condition. Early weaning is a possible cause as kittens that are weaned before 12 weeks mostly develop this bad habit. Mature cats can also have this habit but it is mostly due to other potential factors.



Medical Disorders


Certain medical disorders are linked with pica. Such as

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus 
  • Feline leukemia 
  • Anemia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • DiabetesBrain tumors



  1. Common Signs


If your cat has eaten something like ribbon, string, or other non-food items, he/she may show the following signs


·       Vomiting

·       Lack of Appetite

·       Behavior Change

  • General listlessness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Drooling
  • Oral ulcers or redness


  1. Diagnosis


Keep in mind that chewing is not pica always. Cats may chew on objects, but this does not always imply that they are eating them, so keep an eye on them. If you see your cat playing with ribbon or string and then the ribbon vanishes, you can assume that cat has eaten it.


You must contact your vet immediately, as he is the best person who can diagnose the condition. He may ask for an x-ray if he feels necessary.


  1. When To Call A Vet


If the foreign object is small in size or a linear foreign body (like a ribbon, thread, or string) is ingested, it is possible that it may not cause any problem and passed out into stool with in next 24 -48 hours.


Sometimes this foreign object (irrespective of its size) can become lodged at any place in the digestive tract and obstruct the tract. In such cases, your feline friend will show the above-mentioned signs and you must call your vet immediately. If left untreated or delayed it can be life-threatening.


  1. Treatment


Treatment depends on the cause, if pica is due to some underlying disease, your vet will prescribe you medicine accordingly and in severe cases, surgery will be done to remove the object.


  1. How To Avoid/Manage Pica


If pica is not due to any underlying disease then you must take the following steps to help your cat get rid of this habit.


Remove Inedible Target Objects

Keeping the inedible objects (like ribbons, strings, thread, plants, clothing, blankets, and electrical cords) out of the reach of your cat will remove the enticement to eat them. 

Provide Chewing Alternatives

Provide special cat toys and safe plants like catnip to fulfill its instinct of chewing objects. 

Remove Boredom

One of the most common causes of pica is boredom. So spend quality time with your pet regularly and provide him enough opportunities for play and exercise.

Attending To Dietary Needs

Always feed a well-balanced, high-quality diet to avoid nutritional deficiency. You can also ask your vet to prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement for your cat.


Cat of any age can develop pica and it can be fatal so it’s better to catch it early. Pica management is difficult but not impossible; and “Prevention is key To success”.

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