Why is my cat eating litter & how to stop it
Read time: 3 min
Some cats will eat everything. Some are a bit pickier. But no matter their appetite, the contents of their litter box shouldn’t be on the menu. But some cats do try to eat litter.
Of course, the reasons for eating litter are varied. So if you’ve spotted your cat or kitten taking a taste of their litter tray, read on to learn why. And how to fix it.
Why is my cat eating litter?
Your cat’s craving for litter could be down to a few different reasons. They might have a medical condition. Or the litter might be made of a material that just smells tasty. They could be bored. Or they could have a condition called pica.
Some reasons your cat is eating their litter:
Litter made from food-based products
Dietary deficiencies such as anaemia
Feline immunodeficiency virus
What is pica in cats?
Dogs are the best-known pet for having pica. But cats can have it too. It’s a compulsion to eat or chew on non-food items like plastic, dirt, fabric and, yes, litter. It most commonly starts when they’re a few months old. And many cats grow out of it by the time they’re 2 years old.
But if it’s not the litter your cat is interested in, and instead they’re eating faeces, this is called coprophagia. Although it’s pretty gross, eating poop isn’t unusual in the animal kingdom. It’s most common in kittens. They’re born without any microorganisms in their gut. And it’s thought that ingesting these microbes by eating faeces while they’re young might help them establish a balanced gastrointestinal ecosystem. It’s like us drinking probiotic drinks. They should grow out of it eventually. (Thank goodness.) But some illnesses and deficiencies can cause it in older cats. So if they start doing this when adults, take them to the vet.
Why is my kitten eating litter?
Much like human babies, kittens tend to explore the world by putting things in their mouths. Which can include their litter. So you might spot curious kittens playing with or tasting their litter. Which is why it’s a good idea to avoid using clumping litter until they’re a bit older. It will clump up with their saliva. And could become a choking hazard.
How to stop my cat from eating litter?
You don’t want your cat chowing down in their litter box. It’s a pretty nasty habit. And increases the risk of them passing on bacterial infections or viruses to other pets. Or even your human family members.
Change the type of litter you use. If you’re using tofu or corn litter at the moment, try switching to a far less palatable crystal litter (like our Scoop Health litter. An innovative crystal litter which can help to monitor your cat’s health.) Or a clay litter. Read our guide on how to choose the right litter to learn more about the different types of litter. And which one will suit you the best.
Treat any medical conditions. Things like anaemia, diabetes, and FIV can make your cat crave some odd things. If you see them heading to the litter tray for anything other than relieving themselves, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. Treating the underlying issue might help stop them snacking on litter.
If they’re stressed, try to remove the stressor as best as possible. If that’s not possible, you might want to think about using pheromone plug-ins or other tools to help chill them out.
Boredom is easy to fix. You just need to play with them. 10 minutes before dinnertime (or while you’re on a boring work call) will help to stimulate their brains. And will wear them out, so they’re ready for a nap. Alternatively, you can give them some treats in a puzzle toy to engage their brains in a challenging activity.
Give them something else to chew on. Catnip sticks. Cat grass. Cardboard boxes. Giving your cat something else to play with and chew on (without eating, preferably) can help distract them from the litter box.
What to do if my cat ate litter
If you’ve noticed your cat has eaten some of their litter, take them to the vet ASAP. Especially if you use clumping litter. This is to make sure it doesn’t cause a blockage in their digestive tract. Which can be fatal. And expensive to have removed.
Litter box tips for a happy cat
Make sure you keep your litter tray clean to discourage them from spending too much time in it. Scoop the poop at least once a day. And regularly replace old, soiled litter with fresh. Cats really hate when their litter tray is dirty. And you might find that they even stop using it when it gets too bad. Which means extra cleaning for you. And possibly a stained rug. Yuck.
Check out our guide on how to clean a litter tray for more information on keeping your litter tray as clean as possible.
Health indicating cat litter
To help discourage your cat from eating litter while still keeping an eye on their health, our Scoop Health cat litter is the one to pick. Scoop Health is an innovative, colour-changing crystal litter – the first of its kind, in fact. When your cat uses the litter box, the pH level of their urine will turn the litter a different colour. If it goes anything other than olive green or yellow, it’s time to see the vet. On top of that the litter is super fine and sandy. Ideal for sensitive paws. And doesn’t clump. So any curiosity won’t kill the cat.
Treatments for kitten diarrhoea
Depending on the diagnosis from your vet, diarrhoea treatment might include medication to kill parasites and fight infections. Your vet might even recommend trying cat-specific probiotics (good bacteria that can help balance the gut biome and aid digestion).
Home remedies for kitten diarrhoea
Prevention is the best thing you can do for your kitten. Because parasites are one of the most common causes of diarrhoea, make sure you stay up-to-date on your flea and worming treatments, especially if they’re outdoor cats. And regularly treat your other pets for fleas and worms.
Keeping them vaccinated will help protect them from common viruses. And will protect them from some nasty life-threatening illnesses too. Steer clear from any lactose products, like cow’s milk.
What to feed a kitten with diarrhoea
In the case that your kitten is still acting fine but has digestive upset, make sure you provide plenty of fresh water. Offer them small, frequent meals of something bland. Plain boiled chicken, our Cluck chicken recipe or cooked white fish are good options.
Keep an eye on them and if the diarrhoea continues after 24 hours, take them to the vet.
Feeding your kitten a good-quality, kitten-suitable food is one of the best ways to keep them happy and healthy. KatKin’s fresh cat food is suitable for cats of all ages. It’s made with 100% human-quality meat. (The good stuff.) And contains none of the ingredients – fillers, and preservatives – that can cause upset stomachs in other cat foods. Just gently cooked meat. So they can get back to living room parkour. And pouncing on your feet under the duvet.