Cats can do a lot of strange things, but eating random objects, hair, fur, and thread shouldn't be among them. If your cat is obsessively trying to eat or chew on things that aren't food, your cat may have pica. This guide will explain what this disorder is and why your cat's health could be at risk.
Pica is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that drives a cat to try and consume things that aren't food. Vets and scientists aren't entirely sure why some cats develop pica when others don't, but they do know there are some things that could increase your cat's risk of developing it or performing the action.
Oriental breeds like Siamese cats seem to be at a higher risk of developing pica than other breeds. However, all cats can potentially develop pica, and many individual oriental breed cats won't develop it.
Another risk factor is if your cat is under a lot of stress or anxiety. Cats who have pica tend to act out on it more often if they're stressed out, which may indicate that it's a nervous habit that soothes the cat.
Eating Foreign Objects
Any object is game when it comes to pica. Cats have been known to eat fur, hair, thread, and even kitty litter. Some won't actually eat foreign objects, but will instead obsessively chew on things like wool and power cables. Others will pull out their own fur in order to eat it, which can lead to a cat covered in bald spots.
The biggest risk for cats with pica is the likelihood that they will develop gastrointestinal obstructions. When cats eat things that aren't food, the objects can potentially block their intestines, preventing food from moving through. They can become unable to digest food, lose their appetite, or be unable to defecate, depending on where the blockage develops. In extreme circumstances, this can cause your cat to die.
If you think your cat has pica, you should see a vet right away. Your vet will work with you to check for existing gastrointestinal obstructions and to help you find ways to prevent your cat from eating or chewing things it shouldn't. This process may include tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medication, or pheromone collars that help to soothe your cat. Kitties with pica may need a little more attention and care, but the most important thing is knowing about this condition. With a few extra steps and help from your veterinarian, your cat can live a long, healthy life.