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Are There Chew Toys for Cats With Pica? Feline Facts & FAQs

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

A small pet feline playfully chewing a soft cat toy

If you have a cat with pica, many different substances can be dangerous because if they ingest them, they can cause an obstruction. Many people wonder if chew toys for cats with pica are available. Fortunately, there are a few safe options that can help redirect their chewing behavior and provide appropriate stimulation, so keep reading as we provide you with a list of things that you can use as cat toys for your cat with pica.

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What Is Pica?

Pica is a disorder that can affect many animals and even humans. It’s relatively common among cats, especially oriental cats, like Siamese, Burmese, and Tonkinese. Animals with pica tend to eat non-edible materials like rubber, plastic, wood, and paint. Other common items that cats with pica like to eat are synthetic and natural fabrics, which is why many people call it “the wool-eating disease.”

Cat Chewing on toy
Image Credit: Dorothe, Pixabay

How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Pica?

Cats with pica will seek out and even go to great lengths to find and eat materials that they shouldn’t. While experts aren’t sure what causes the cats to desire substances that they can’t eat, it seems that they enjoy the process of grinding the material in their back teeth before swallowing it. However, since the cat cannot ingest the material, it can form a blockage in the stomach or the intestine. If a blockage does occur, it will likely require surgery to be removed, which can be quite expensive.

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What to Avoid When You Have a Cat With Pica

Old Toys

Since many cats like to eat fabric and stuffing, you will want to toss out any soft toys when they show signs of wear. Cats don’t usually tear open toys, but if they do try to get to the stuffing inside, they will work at it until they get it. Dangly pieces of material hanging off old toys can also be a target for cats with pica.

Wires

If you have wires around your home, you will need to watch them if you have a cat with pica, as they often chew on them. If the cat chews on an electrical wire, they might get shocked. It can also cause your equipment to stop working, and replacing them is often expensive.

Curious cat inspecting the installation process of new cable-box
Image Credit: Hadrian, Shutterstock

Hair Ties

Hair ties look like wires, and they are favorite toys of many cats. Cats with pica will often chew up and swallow the hair ties, which can lead to vomiting or a blockage. If you use hair ties, keep them locked away.

Household Items

You will need to look over your home and patch up any holes in your furniture, cushions, and pillows that might invite a wool-eating cat. You will also need to watch if they disappear under the couch or bed to ensure that they are not making a hole to get at the stuffing inside.

Treats

Many people choose to give a cat with pica more treats to keep them from eating other items. However, too many treats will cause the cat to gain weight, leading to many other health problems.

Other Objects

There are many other objects that you should keep locked away so your cat with pica can’t get them, including sewing needles, thread, string, twine, rope, and Q-tips.

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What Is Safe to Give a Cat With Pica?

Catnip

Catnip is a great choice as a chew toy for cats because it is a non-toxic herb that won’t block your cat’s digestive system. You can purchase a commercial product online or grow it easily and inexpensively in your home. Many cats with pica may like to chew on the stems of the live plant. It can help them feel better and has a pleasant fragrance that can work as a nice air freshener.

Gray Cat Enjoying Fresh Catnip
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Cat Grass

Cat grass is another product that you can grow in your home that might help give your cat something safe and non-toxic to chew on instead of your pillow stuffing or wires. You can grow a small pot in a window, and it can help with a cat’s digestion if they chew on it.

High-Fiber Diet

Some owners report that they have successfully reduced their cat’s urges to chew on non-edible items by adding more fiber to their diet. There are many high-fiber cat foods available online and in your local grocery store that you can try. Look at the packaging for the crude fiber amount to find high-fiber cat food. Many owners also like adding small amounts of carrots, spinach, green beans, broccoli, and lettuce to the food to increase the fiber amount. However, we recommend discussing any dietary changes with your vet first, so you can ensure that your cat is getting the required nutrients to stay healthy.

Softened Hide Sticks

Softened hide sticks can be helpful for cats with pica because they are safe chew toys that can last quite a while. You can find many different kinds online and at your local grocery store. We recommend using a brand that has all-natural ingredients and not real hide.

hepper single cat paw dividerWhat Can I Do to Stop My Cat’s Pica?

Pica occurs in many cats when they are kittens, and most outgrow it as they become adults. However, some cats will continue to eat non-edible items, so you must permanently keep dangerous items out of reach. You might also want to hire a behavior specialist, who can come to your home to assess your cat’s lifestyle and give you pointers. A vet may also prescribe an antidepressant drug.

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Summary

Pica can be a dangerous and expensive health condition in cats, and owners can get quite stressed trying to keep dangerous items out of reach. Hopefully, your cat will outgrow it as they mature, but if not, catnip chew toys, softened hide sticks, cat grass, and a high-fiber diet can all help keep your cat from seeking out non-edible items in your home. If your cat is extremely persistent, we recommend looking into behavioral therapy to see if there are other measures that will help. Remove any toys when they show signs of wear, tie up your wires, keep hair ties in a drawer, and resist the urge to distract the cat with food, so they don’t become overweight.


Featured Image Credit: 6ARO, Shutterstock

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