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Pica is a term that is used to describe the regular consumption of non-edible items. It is frequently seen in breeds like the Burmese, Siamese Tonkinese and other Oriental breeds. There might be a genetic component which causes the trait to be passed down certain family lines. However, some of the domestic cat breeds with no Oriental ancestry also suffer from this condition.How can you tell if your cat has pica?
Cats tend to chew up and tear off objects when they exhibit predatory behavior while playing but the torn pieces are not usually consumed. A cat suffering from pica will take the chewed up object in his mouth and grind it repeatedly with his back molar teeth and swallow it afterwards. It is highly rewarding behavior for susceptible cats and they will go to great lengths to seek the favored material. It is not clearly understood as to why sufferers are motivated to consume wool and other fabrics, but it is theorized that the act of chewing releases chemicals in the brain that produce a feeling of pleasure. This can eventually become addictive.Is it dangerous?
Unfortunately, most of the substances that cats chew on cannot be digested and there is always a risk of intestinal obstruction. In such cases, a laparotomy is needed to remove the foreign body. If it leads to an intussusception, sections of the gut might need to be removed. In spite of this, most of the cats make a full recovery afterwards.What are the signs of blockage?
If your cat suffers from pica, you need to be vigilant and make sure that you monitor him for signs of intestinal blockage. These signs include diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and general listlessness.What should you do if your cat eats fabric?
If your cat suffers from pica, chances are that he has a restricted lifestyle and spends most of his time indoors. This makes him susceptible to stress. They need a lot of stimulation indoors to keep them occupied. The ideal solution is to let them roam about outdoors. If that is not an option, an outside pen or a secure garden is an excellent option.Remove all the materials that are consumed and increase the opportunities to play around with moving objects, like fishing rod toys. There are some cats that get better when they are switched over to a diet with high fiber content
. You can also give your cat a soft hide stick (moistened with fish oil). If you are unsure about the diet, consult with the vet.Not all pica habits pose a risk of serious addiction. If your cat likes to chew idly, coat the item with eucalyptus oil or Bitter Apple. Removing the item from your cat’s view might be sufficient measure in a lot of the cases.