Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Pica or what did you just eat????!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pica is the abnormal appetite for non-food materials, such as wool, fabrics, cat litter, houseplants or licking concrete or stones.

It can arise as a behavioural problem or can be the result of an underlying medical problem such as anaemia.

Behavioural pica

Behavioural pica often is a long standing problem in healthy cats or in playful kittens. They are usually seen at a clinic for vomiting and reduced appetite due to an intestinal obstruction with odd objects, or toxic substances. Behavioural pica may also increase during times of stress (e.g. new pets and moving house).

Siamese and related breeds are particularly prone to fabric eating and this is often a chronic problem starting at a young age. It is presumed that there is a genetic component to the habit and , although incompletely understood, it is thought that the endorphin release the cat experiences makes the habit addictive. Some cases are very difficult to manage and consulting a veterinary behaviourist is highly recommended.

Pica due to medical conditions

Pica can be seen in cats with chronic anaemia or intestinal problems – they consume excessive amount of grass or plant material and consequently vomit, have diarrhoea or lose weight.

Grass/outdoor plant ingestion in cats

Grass eating is common in cats. The reasons for this is not fully understood but it is suspected that grass has some beneficial effects on the stomach and intestines, including easing nausea. Grass eating is not problematic unless the is also showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea or eating a toxic plant (i.e lilies). Some owners grow grass on trays indoors for their cats to eat – this may discourage houseplant eating in indoor cats.

Empirical treatments

Steps can be taken to prevent cats from eating odd things:

  • Place wool, blankets and clothing out of reach or sight
  • Hide electrical wires or protect them with cord guards
  • Remove houseplants
  • Use non-clay based litter or placing only shredded/torn up newspaper in litter trays.

Behavioural pica can be challenging to manage; a thorough examination and consultation with a veterinarian will help rule out common causes and allow prompt treatment.

Search Blog

Recent Posts


plaque urination face rub aggressive cta fight cystitis blocked cat change exercise overweight straining bladder stones cognitive dysfunction panadol abscess snakes panadeine high blood pressure snakebite pet meat sore ears panleukopenia foreign body rolls urine echocardiography panleukopaenia bad breath nose scabs behaviour change bump food puzzles ribbon sore bladder runny nose training snake bite wet food holes in teeth mince breathing difficult liver fight wool ulcer fear drinking a lot roundworm cough crytococcosus desexing seizures mass blood pressure vaccine outdoor cat flea treatment feliway annual check grass home bed stiff spray runny eyes spey grooming furball vision noisy breathing worms cat fight new year advantage lick nails poisons socialisation AIDS hunting sudden blindness permethrin pred heavy breathing urinating prednisolone restless virus vet visit lump scratch kidney urinating on curtains or carpet not eating bite poisonous lily feline enteritis hypertension drinking more weight loss gasping paracetamol on heat snake dry food hungry herpesvirus cat flu new cat dental treatment cranky brown snake behaviour cat vet FIV tumour diabetes fat New Year's Eve cat history pain relief introductions Hill's Metabolic hiding Canberra heart disease poisonous plants sick constipation conflict allergy teeth microchip cryptococcosis paralysis tick examination home visit dilated pupils plants desex kibble eye infection toxins thirsty yowling tablet body language fits arthritis blind weight snot jumping RSPCA cat enclosure antibiotics marking dehydration cat behaviour African wild cat dymadon biopsy aggression pet depomedrol hyperthyroidism diarrhoea computer checkup inflammatory bowel disease spraying vocal learning attack fever check-up collapse chlamydia enteritis litter senses old cat kitten deaths Canberra Cat Vet whiskers worming kittens itchy mouth breathing kitten play blockage introduce sick cat rub massage activity best vet best veterinarian paralysed aspirin kidney disease in season tapeworm fleas pheromone ulcerated nose poisoning tradesmen catoberfest snuffle sensitive urine spraying off food touch indoor cats IBD revolution vaccination hunters twitching slow return home string head breeder cat containment petting cat blindness award abscess,cat fight toxic discount pancreatitis pica strange behaviour sensitive stomach appetite changed lame unsociable meows a lot sun hard faeces best cat clinic sore eyes vomit comfortis renal disease anaemia train skinny sneeze cancer stress rough play vomiting holiday asthma obese blood intestine thyroid eye ulcer visit birthday blood in urine dementia insulin introduction new kitten panamax rigid head pain killer cat fluid pills anxiety scale sucking wool fabric heaing hunter flea prevention feline herpesvirus castration skin old FORLS euthanasia paralysis goodbye ulcers introducing tick flu weight control diuretics wet litter unwell cat friendly love dental kitten hypertrophic cardiomyopathy cage mental health of cats hyperactive senior signs of pain xylitol snuffles tooth sense of smell hospital christmas pet insurance pain open night antiviral polish photo competition cat worms scratching blue cat enclosures competition health check allergy, salivation house call joints eye gifts water opening hours scratching post calicivirus corneal ulcer furballs tartar holes headache eyes dental check lilly blood test feline AIDS urinating outside litter wobbles enemies radioactive iodine hole ACT free pill client night stare into space thirst information night cortisone obesity best clinic physical activity thiamine deficiency aerokat kidneys adipokines holidays lymphoma hairball open day hunched over lilies diet mycoplasma moving groom skin cancer prey carrier when to go to vet litter box poison fireworks painful rash odour decision to euthanase hearing enclosure appointment


A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions