What to Do If Your Kitty Eats Cat Litter Crystals

Cat litter crystals can be dangerous to your cat's health if ingested, especially if you use a clumping clay litter that contains sodium bentonite. Normal cat behavior includes eating litter from time to time, so you might want to consider using a safe cat litter made with such ingredients as pine, paper, corn or wheat. However, eating cat litter may be a sign of pica, a disorder that makes your cat crave non-food substances.

Why Cats Eat Litter

Kittens may often taste their litter out of curiosity or a playful spirit. If your kitten eats a bite or two of cat litter, it's probably just because he wants to see what it tastes like. However, because young kittens often do this, it's a very good idea not to use a clumping clay litter with a young kitten. These litters contain sodium bentonite, a natural clay that swells and clumps on contact with moisture. If your kitten eats this substance, he could suffer gastrointestinal blockage and death.

Older cats may eat cat litter as a sign of feline pica.

Feline Pica

Pica is a condition that makes your cat want to eat weird things that aren't edible, such as cat litter, feces, plastic, and even wool. Pica accounts for about 2.5% of odd cat behavior. No one knows what causes it; current theories attribute it to mineral deficiency or psychological disorder. Sometimes, pica is related to an underlying medical condition and will resolve itself when the condition is treated.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats Litter

If your cat eats litter, or anything else that isn't food, on a regular basis, get him to a veterinarian. Be sure to tell your vet if you're using a clumping clay litter made with sodium bentonite, as ingestion of such litters can cause gastrointestinal blockage. Symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat has ingested too much litter and has a gastrointestinal blockage, surgery may be necessary.

Your cat will need a thorough checkup to determine what's causing him to eat litter. In the meantime, discontinue use of clumping clay litters until you and your vet have solved the mystery. Your vet may be unable to determine what's causing your cat's pica. You should do your best, however, to discourage your cat from this behavior, as it can result in life-threatening complications when foreign objects are ingested and remain lodged in the GI tract. A safe cat litter, made from wood, paper, grains or corn cobs, should be used until your cat's pica is resolved.