We always knew our cat was different from the moment we welcomed him into our home. He is a bundle of energy and absolutely loves to be a menace. What cat doesn’t?
For us, it was a 3 year journey before discovering that our little man has Pica.
So, what is Pica?
Pica (for cats) is the consumption of non-edible materials. In cats, these items most often include fabrics, elastics such as hair binders, cardboard, paper, and plastic.
Why does my cat have Pica?
The cause of pica is unknown, but experts speculate that it could be due to a number of causes such as being weaned too young, dietary deficiencies, genetics, boredom, compulsive disorder, or stress.
How do you treat Pica?
- Mental stimulation: Let your cat play outside to preoccupy themselves with watching birds (stimulating hunting instincts) and provide puzzle feeders.
- Physical stimulation: Interactive toys and scratching posts.
- Diet: Increase fiber content or provide larger sized cat biscuits and cat grass.
- Remove all materials your cat appears drawn to, this could be plastic bags, blankets, certain materials like wool, cables and cardboard.
My experience with my cat
With our little man, he is continually drawn to plastic wrappings and plastic bags. He loves to chew and eat blankets, cardigans, jumpers, jackets – anything that is wool. He has destroyed endless amounts of my woolen clothes that I have lost count, I cannot leave anything out unattended in the house that involves wool because he will be on it like a hawk. He appears to like nail filers as well.
Lucky for us, our cat loves to chew cables. He has cost us a fortune by chewing through so many of our electrical goods. Fairy lights, phone chargers, laptop chargers, fish pump cords, and even just as I was typing this he tried to eat my keyboard cable to the computer. The chances are if you have left something out overnight and go to turn it on in the morning and it doesn’t work – there will be a chew mark through it somewhere.
We have learned to just remove the materials to the best of our abilities. Unfortunately we can’t remove every cable in the house, it is just unmanageable, but the things we can we have replaced with braided material.
I no longer leave my clothing or blankets out and about, occasionally I have a slip up where I will have a jumper on top of a clothes basket and he will snag it.
For us, we have tried a lot of the tricks in the book for cats with Pica and not all work for us. Below I have listed a few tips and suggestions for you from our experience. Hopefully they can help!
Tips and tricks from my experience with my cat
- Remove all plastic bags (good for the environment anyway, right?)
- Replace standard cables with thick braided cables that are unable to be chewed through
- Don’t leave blankets and clothes around the house that have the material your cat is drawn to
- If you hear chewing, run and remove whatever they are chewing on immediately!
- Keep your cat stimulated
- Keep a stress free environment
- Don’t buy toys with feathers or fur, the chances are your cat is going to absolutely demolish the fur and feathers and not even want to play with the toy itself – they just want to eat the material they shouldn’t be eating
- If your cat is smart, filling a food puzzle dispenser with biscuits and an occasional treat won’t work because they will just continually tip out the biscuits until they get to the treat. If you are going for a food puzzle, ensure you don’t put any treats in them
- Before you go to bed, make sure the house is safe and clear from anything your cat can digest that they shouldn’t. Chances are when you are asleep they are going to go on the hunt and try preoccupy themselves with destruction. This goes for when you leave the house during the day as well!
I have read that a lot of cats grow out of this behaviour over 2+ years of age. Unfortunately our cat is 3+ years now, and has had this behaviour ever since we have had him which was when he was only a couple months old.
We don’t see him changing any time soon, but hopefully he does. Don’t lose hope! Just do your best where you can to manage it for your cat and to keep them healthy and safe.
Thanks for reading.