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


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


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