Cats Eat Litter

Why Cats Eat Litter and How to Stop It

Why Cats Eat Litter and How to Stop It

Cats are known for their quirky behaviors, but eating litter is one behavior that has many cat owners concerned. If you’re wondering why your cat is eating litter and how to stop it, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons behind this behavior, signs that your cat is eating litter, and how you can help your feline friend kick this unhealthy habit.

Reasons Why Cats Eat Litter

There are several reasons why a cat might start eating litter, which can be categorized into medical issues, behavioral issues, and nutritional deficiencies.

Medical Issues

Dental Problems: Dental issues such as toothaches, gum disease, or tooth resorption can cause cats to chew on litter as a way to alleviate their discomfort.

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Behavioral Issues

  1. Boredom: Cats may eat litter out of boredom, as they are curious creatures that need constant mental stimulation. Chewing on litter can provide a temporary distraction from their lack of engagement.
  2. Pica: Pica is a condition where animals ingest non-food items, and it may be the reason your cat is eating litter. Pica can be caused by various factors, including medical conditions, stress, or boredom.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional Deficiencies: Cats might eat litter due to a lack of essential nutrients in their diet, causing them to seek out alternative sources of nutrition.

Signs Your Cat Is Eating Litter

Here are some signs that your cat might be eating litter:

  1. Consuming Non-food Items: If your cat has been consuming other non-food items in addition to litter, it may be experiencing pica.
  2. Frequent Litter Box Visits: If your cat spends an unusual amount of time near the litter box or appears to be eating directly from it, this could be a sign that they are consuming litter.
  3. Litter Stuck to the Mouth: Finding litter stuck to your cat’s mouth or seeing them attempt to remove litter particles from its mouth may indicate that they’ve been eating it.
  4. Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss could be a sign that your cat is eating litter, as it provides no nutritional value and can lead to malnutrition.
  5. Unusual Fecal Matter: Litter consumption can cause changes in your cat’s fecal matter, such as a gritty or sandy texture, which could indicate that they have been eating litter.

Related: How Deep Should Cat Litter Be?

How to Stop Cats from Eating Litter

If you’ve identified that your cat is eating litter, it’s essential to address the underlying cause of this behavior. Here are some steps you can take to help your cat stop eating litter:

Address Medical Issues

Consult a Veterinarian: If you suspect that your cat has dental problems, a nutritional deficiency, or any other medical issue, consult your veterinarian. They can diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Provide Mental Stimulation

  1. Interactive Toys and Enrichment: Offer your cat various toys, puzzle feeders, and scratching posts to keep them engaged and prevent boredom.
  2. Regular Playtime: Spend quality time with your cat daily, engaging in interactive play sessions to keep their minds stimulated and reduce boredom.

Ensure Proper Nutrition

Balanced Diet: Make sure your cat is eating a high-quality, well-balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian for advice on choosing the right food for your cat.

Maintain Dental Health

Regular Dental Checkups: Schedule regular dental checkups with your veterinarian to maintain your cat’s oral health and address any dental issues that may be causing them to eat litter.

Use Safe Litter Alternatives

Switch to a Non-toxic Litter: Consider switching to a non-toxic, non-clumping litter made from natural materials such as paper, wood, or corn. This can help reduce the risks associated with litter ingestion.

Preventing Future Litter Eating

To prevent your cat from eating litter in the future, consider implementing these strategies:

  1. Regular Vet Checkups: Schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian to monitor your cat’s health and address any potential issues early on.
  2. Monitor Litter Box Behavior: Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box habits to identify any changes in their behavior or signs of litter consumption.
  3. Gradual Introduction to New Litter: When introducing a new litter, do so gradually to give your cat time to adjust and minimize the chances of them eating the new material.

Why Do Baby Cats (Kittens) Eat Litter?

Kittens may eat litter for various reasons, similar to adult cats. However, there are some specific factors that may influence this behavior in younger cats. Here are some possible reasons why kittens eat litter:

  1. Curiosity: Kittens are naturally curious creatures and may ingest litter while exploring their environment. They may be attracted to the texture or scent of the litter, leading them to taste or chew on it.
  2. Teething: Just like human babies, kittens go through a teething phase when their teeth are erupting, which can cause them discomfort. Chewing on litter may provide temporary relief from the pain associated with teething.
  3. Imitation: Kittens learn many behaviors by imitating their mother or other adult cats. If they observe another cat eating litter, they may be more likely to try it themselves.
  4. Nutritional Deficiencies: Kittens have specific nutritional requirements that differ from adult cats. If their diet does not meet these needs, they may eat litter in an attempt to obtain missing nutrients.
  5. Pica: Similar to adult cats, kittens may also experience pica, a condition where they ingest non-food items. This could be due to medical issues, stress, or boredom.

To prevent kittens from eating litter, it’s essential to provide them with a safe and stimulating environment, as well as a balanced diet tailored to their specific needs. Additionally, keep a close eye on their behavior and consult your veterinarian if you notice any signs of litter consumption.

FAQs About Cats Eat Litter

Is it dangerous for my cat to eat litter?

Yes, consuming litter can be harmful to your cat, potentially leading to digestive issues, blockages, and malnutrition.

How can I tell if my cat is eating litter?

Look for signs such as frequent litter box visits, litter stuck to their mouth, weight loss, and unusual fecal matter.

What should I do if my cat is eating litter?

Identify the underlying cause, consult your veterinarian, and implement the appropriate measures to stop the behavior.

Can changing the type of litter help stop my cat from eating it?

Yes, switching to a non-toxic, non-clumping litter made from natural materials may help reduce the risks associated with litter ingestion.

How can I prevent my cat from eating litter in the future?

Schedule regular vet checkups, monitor litter box behavior, and introduce new litter gradually to minimize the chances of your cat consuming it.


Cats eating litter can be a concerning behavior for pet owners. By understanding the possible reasons behind this habit and taking proactive measures, you can help your feline friend stop eating litter and maintain their overall health. Remember to consult your veterinarian for professional advice tailored to your cat’s specific needs.

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