Exploring Feline Pica: Understanding and Addressing the Compulsive Eating of Non-Food Items by Anita Kelsey

Feline pica presents a puzzling behavior where cats exhibit a propensity to ingest non-food substances such as wool, wires, or blankets. This peculiar conduct can arise from a myriad of underlying issues, ranging from medical conditions to environmental stressors, and may escalate into a compulsive habit akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Exploring Feline Pica: Understanding and Addressing the Compulsive Eating of Non-Food Items











Although feline pica is not as uncommon as cat guardians may hope, it remains a perplexing challenge that necessitates expert intervention. Veterinary professionals play a crucial role in assessing the cat’s medical health to rule out any physiological factors contributing to the behavior. Similarly, cat psychologists, armed with specialized knowledge in feline behavior, delve into the cat’s immediate environment and social dynamics to pinpoint potential stressors triggering the behavior.

The investigation into feline pica extends beyond mere observation of the cat’s actions; it involves a comprehensive analysis of the cat’s living space, including interactions with other household pets. By scrutinizing these factors, professionals can unravel the root cause of the behavior and devise targeted strategies to mitigate its impact.

Exploring Feline Pica: Understanding and Addressing the Compulsive Eating of Non-Food Items








Interestingly, research conducted by animal behaviorists has shed light on a milder form of pica known as wool sucking, which appears to have a genetic component in certain feline breeds. While wool sucking may not pose a direct threat to the cat’s health, it can pose challenges for cat guardians and warrants attention to prevent escalation into more severe forms of pica.

In contrast, true feline pica, characterized by the ingestion of non-food items beyond wool sucking, poses significant health risks for cats in the long run. Ingesting foreign objects can lead to gastrointestinal obstructions, intestinal perforations, or toxicity, underscoring the urgency of addressing the behavior promptly and effectively.

Exploring Feline Pica: Understanding and Addressing the Compulsive Eating of Non-Food Items











In conclusion, feline pica represents a complex behavioral issue that demands a collaborative effort between veterinary professionals, cat psychologists, and cat guardians. By unraveling the underlying causes and implementing targeted interventions, we can safeguard the well-being of our feline companions and mitigate the risks associated with this compulsive behavior.

It is important to note that there is no known cure for Pica. The condition is a managed one to lesson the actions and also be mindful what is left around the home. Ruling out any stress that contributes to Pica is very important.

Email me if you need help with Pica and your cat.


About this author:

unexplained feline aggression Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Magazine and is on their experts panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She also advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) magazine as well as being a full member. Anita, a strong advocate of a vegan lifestyle, is based in London but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and one Norwegian Forest cat, Kiki.

Her first book ‘Claws. Confessions Of A Professional Cat Groomer‘ was published by John Blake in 2017 with her second book, Let’s Talk About Cats released on Amazon US and UK 2020. Her third book about cats will be announced this year and will be available to buy soon!