Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Pica refers to the consumption of non-food items. Any cat may exhibit this behaviour but it is particularly common in ‘oriental’ breeds such as Siamese and is often referred to as ‘wool eating’ but the substances ingested are many and varied.
The apparent breed disposition implies a genetic basis as one explanation but there may be a range of causes for the behaviour including stress and lack of mental stimulation. In most instances pica is NOT a sign of nutritional deficiency, however, where a cat suddenly displays this behaviour, it may indicate a serious underlying medical problem so the cat needs to be checked by a vet. Because the items eaten are indigestible there is a risk of obstruction, the owner needs to be watching for signs such as vomiting and straining to go to the toilet.
International Cat Care (ICC) provides the following useful fact sheet on the problem:
Burns Pet Nutrition Team
John Burns Blog
Burns Team Blog
Nutrition Team Blog