Why Is My Cat Eating Litter? | Complete Guide

Arnold Plotnick, a veterinary internist and feline specialist in New York, once stated that unusual behaviors such as cat eating litter could be a symptom of a severe medical condition. Therefore, paying attention to this kind of behavior is a must.

We all know that cats do strength things in their day to day life. Sometimes, these things could be unpleasant. Such as eating litter.

Well, if you observe this kind of behavior from a kitten, then most probably it could be a regular thing. When there are small, they tend to do new things out of curiosity. This habit will fade away with time.

However, if you notice this kind of sudden habit from an adult cat, then you need to pay attention. It could be an early sign of a big problem. 

To understand the real reasons behind this unusual habit, we did some thorough research and found several factors to share with you.

why is my cat eating litter? 4 Main Reasons

Cat Learns to Dance

During our research, we have found some concerning reasons for this behavior. Unfortunately, most of them are goes under severe medical conditions which need to address as soon as possible. 

1. Medical Conditions

So here, we have listed out the most possible medical conditions according to veterinary reports.


Anemia is a medical condition that will cause to decrease in a considerable amount of red blood cells. Pica is an early sign of anemia.

The pica signs could be seen from any cat who is older than three months. Usually, these signs are, urge to eat non-food items such as plastic, rubber, paper, rugs or, in this case, cat litter.

Typically, anemia divided into two categories.

  • Regenerative anemia – This type is considered to cause by inherited disorders, diabetes, toxicities, and infections.
  • Non-regenerative anemia – This type is regarded as a serious condition. The key causes are leukemia, chronic diseases and aplasia. Sometimes, nutrition disorders can trigger this too.

Further, pale gums, reduce dynamic behavior, reduced appetite and always tiredness are some of the other symptoms of anemia.

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Even though overall anemia is not considered as lethal to treat, our advice is to take your cat to a vet. He will examine your cat and will give some medicine and nutrition’s filled diet plan.

Kidney disease

Cat eating litter is a sign for kidney disease too. When cats grow old, they started to show weak activity. During these times, their kidneys get weaken. Without proper care, this condition can accelerate.

When your cat has kidney disease, then you can notice it from its behavior too. Especially, it will have started to urinate more than usually and sometimes outside of the cat litter box. It will show some signs of the urge to drink more water, but could not drink. Further, if your cat in serious condition, it will stop urinate indicating shutting down its kidneys.

From the statistics, it was said that 30% of cats over seven years old have kidney disease. That means one out of three cats could have kidney disease. Therefore, taking necessary actions in early symptoms can help to extend your beloved cat’s life.

Vomiting, overall weakness, weight loss, and depression are other symptoms of kidney disease.

Feline leukemia

Feline leukemia is another deathly condition. It directly affects the cat’s bone marrow and blood production. Feline leukemia based on a virus that spreads through blood, urine, saliva and feces.

why is my kitten eating litter

Feline leukemia can be the final disease of anemia or pica. So if you can take important figures at the correct time, you can stop spreading feline leukemia.

Other than the cat eating its own litter, yellow color in mouth, bloodless white eyes, weight loss, pale gums, fever, and depression are other symptoms of this disease.

2. Mental stress

Mental stress is another reason for cats to eat cat litter. Sudden changes in cat’s daily lifestyle, house changers and newly adoption can cause anxiety.

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Once your cat gets anxiety, then it would trigger the pica state and can be started eating non-cat foods.

Therefore, it’s good to pay attention to your cat’s mental state. The cat litter eating habit could be a just a mental stress problem.

3. Nutritional Deficiencies

When cats low in minerals and vitamins, they will feel it somehow. So, they try to eat new things hoping to get those low nutrition.

Typically, cat litters made from clay. Cats have a tendency to eat clays when they feel this kind of deficiencies. That means cat eating litter behavior can be a result of the action that cats show to nutrition deficiencies.

According to the veterinary professionals from WagWalking, following nutrition deficiencies are the most common ones.

  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) deficiency
  • L-Carnitine deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Pyruvate Kinase deficiency
  • Sodium deficiency Taurine deficiency

4. Curiosity

Curiosity is another reason for this behavior. Not a common one among adult cats. But can be seen around kittens.

Kittens, they are little creatures with lots of curiosity. Out of curiosity, they try new things, such as how tasty cat litter!!

The advice is to use clumping litter for small kittens. When they grow older, they will stop this behavior. Be sure to check your cat litter toxicity. It should be a non-toxic clumping one.

There can be some cases where adult cats try to eat cat litters out of curiosity. Most of the time, if you are changed, the old cat litter into a new one.

This video explains kittens’ bad habit of eating litter.

How do I stop my cat and kitten from eating cat litter? 

To stop cat eating litter habit, first of all, you have to identify the reason behind it. According to it, you can follow these steps.

Monitoring cat’s litter use behavior and removing him if he tries to eat the litter several time can stop this behavior most of the time for general cases.

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Anemia, pica, or nutrition deficiency can be prevented if you can provide a healthy diet. Premium level high protein and vitamin cat food are perfect for these nutrition problems. Further, do not try to give medications that are prescribed to humans. These are can be toxic to cats and can trigger anemia.

Kidney disease cannot be prevented. But you can care your cat to the best level with your veterinarian’s advice.

On the other hand, feline leukemia can be prevented with the proper vaccine. Therefore, take your cat to your veterinarian’s place to give his vaccines at appropriate age periods.

For mental stress problems, try playing with your cat. Do not let it feel lonely. If you have some old stuff that your cat loves, then give them. Moreover, you can do several other things that stimulate your cat’s activeness, such as watching birds with it or going outside.  

Why should you take action seriously?

If your veterinarian confirms the cause for “cat eating litter” behavior as kidney disease or feline leukemia, then probably you will end by with spending a big amount of money to treat your cat.

Even it is nutrition deficiency, you will end by buying vitamin suppliers which will cost a large amount of money.

The worst-case scenario is an untreatable level. If you are late to diagnosis this habit at the early stage, then you will end up losing your feline friend forever.

Therefore, our advice is to monitor this behavior for one or two weeks. If it isn’t going to be stopped, take your cat to your vet. He will find the exact reason and will help your cat to gain its normal state as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Cat eating litter is an unusual habit in adult cats. If this is not fade away within one or two weeks, then you should pay better attention. There can be severe medical conditions behind this behavior which should treat with much care and immediately.


Dinu Sri Madusanka

Dinu Sri Madusanka is a science graduate (B.Sc.) who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is a well-experienced writer with more than 7 years of experience. He interests in writing mostly animal welfare and advance technologies. Even though he is busy with research works, in his free time, he gives his contribution to several blogs by writing, reviewing, and analyzing information to provide more accurate and useful information for the reader. WalkwithCat is one of his major contributing places which is dedicated to improving the knowledge of cat parents.

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