The Pica Cats Syndrome – All About Pica In Cats That You Need To Know!

You may have gotten stuck with disgust upon seeing your cat chewing a plastic bag but they are doing so because of the pica cats syndrome which is just an instinctual urge exhibited by the felines. Pica syndrome gets them high rewarding feelings and that can get them to get their favorite stuff at any cost. Continue to read as it is important to understand the problem first before moving on to the treatment.


About the pica syndrome

pica cats

Pica is the term that refers to the behavior of consuming non-edible items and this can turn into becoming a behavioral tendency displayed by animals, cats being one of them. The range of the non-edible items that a cat showing the pica syndrome can consume is huge including things like plastic, paper, cotton, plants, cords, wool, leather, cardboards, rubber, etc.

Cats with pica can either tear/chew things for playing with them simply or swallow the thing after grinding it for long under their back molar teeth. The consumption of non-edible items by cats can give them a sense of satisfaction, soothing, stimulation, or just dietary satisfaction.

Facts about the pica cats syndrome

This behavior can be much worrisome for the pet owners and here are some aspects of pica that you must know for a comprehensive understanding of the subject:

  • Pica comes under the category of obsessive-compulsive disorders where the urge to control and repeat the actions is high.
  • Certain breeds like the Oriental, Burmese, Siamese, and others are more prone to the pica condition.
  • Pica can be both genetic and non-genetic as it is basically like mental haywire that can happen in any cat due to different reasons.
  • It can mostly occur in cats as young as three months only and also the ones who got weaned very early. If trained and raised properly, pica in kittens can be cured by the time they reach the age of one or two years.
  • The cats who catch pica in adulthood are tougher to cure and more stubborn.
  • It is also referred to as wool eating sometimes when exhibited in the Oriental breeds. This simply involves mostly young kittens and cats as well sucking on the bedding.
  • Cats can show their preference for any specific item during pica depending upon the taste, texture, smell, etc.
  • An important thing to note is that every cat trying to consume a non-edible item isn’t necessarily suffering from pica. It may be just an unintentional incident or playful event.

Factors that cause the pica syndrome

It is difficult to pinpoint the source of the mental short-circuiting that happens in the pica cats but several factors have been pointed out by different pet experts.

Medical problems

Any medical issue with the cat can be the primary reason behind the pica syndrome getting triggered and then continuing into becoming a disorder. Health conditions like diabetes, brain tumors, anemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, leukemia, etc. have been usually associated with pica in cats.

Dietary issues

Insufficiency of the cat meal in delivering essential nutrients to the cat can lead it to search for them in other items that can even be non-edible and this behavior turns into becoming the pica disorder later. In such a case, cats tend to eat plants, litter, or anything that gives them good taste or smell.

Behavioral tendency

Your cat may tend to chew on random things in a learned pattern just to satisfy their primal urges or meet their stimulation needs as they get bored easily. Extreme stress, lack of attention, separation anxiety, unregulated behavior, noise exposure, re-location, etc. can also trigger pica behavior in cats.

Genetic sourcing

Your cat might be showing pica symptoms simply because it has gotten the genes of a pica cat. Several cat breeds show a higher risk of pica syndrome and cross-bred cats can produce such cats.

Diagnosing the pica syndrome in cats

As said, cats eating non-edibles aren’t pica all the time and you can check that by watching out for the following symptoms or actions:

  • Catching them in the act is the most assuring way you can know if the cat has pica or not.
  • Check if the cat is consuming the item or not after tearing and chewing it.
  • The cat may show favor for any specific item which they would lick, tear, play with, and even eat.
  • While chewing any non-edible item, a feeling of intense pleasure and relaxation is visible on their tiny faces.
  • The pica cats may also show an extreme obsession with any object.
  • Inappropriate consumption due to pica can cause health issues like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you see any of these symptoms, observe what the cat is eating and you will know.

You can distinguish the pica syndrome from the basic urges to eat specific non-edibles that is displayed by some of the cat breeds. These urges are a result of particular medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, cancer, poisoning, feline infectious peritonitis, intestinal parasites, and other chronic deficiencies.

Treatment for pica syndrome in cats

The best step for getting your cat free from pica syndrome is to get her the help of a vet or a pet behaviorist as they will do the proper diagnosis and then prescribe the correct treatment. However, you may want to give some home therapy to your feline friend too, and here are some of the tips that can help:

  • Desensitizing the cat is a good option that involves redirecting them towards positive activities through training, minimizing exposure to unwanted items, and rewarding them for manners.
  • You must give your pica cat a lot of stimulation through the constant company, attention, care, and interactive playtime.
  • Give them alternatives like chew toys, prey mimicking toys, catnip, and other things that can meet their primal instincts safely.
  • Monitor their diet and ensure that they get all the required nutrients.
  • Take them for outdoor walks and give them various toys like scratching posts, puzzle feeders, kongs, etc.
  • You can apply deterrents sprays to the items they chew. Things like Feliway can also help that calm the pheromones in cats and relieve their stress.
  • To avoid contact catching of pica, limit the entry of other cats in your surroundings.
  • Never punish or abuse your cat while they are in their pica act and just take away the thing they are eating.


The pica cats syndrome cannot be treated completely but they can be minimized up to a significant level. The best treatment sometimes can be to obstruct the cat if the disorder is at the early stage. Vigilant care and attention since the early levels can fade away the disorder in less time.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.