Cats stand out for having a very selective palate, since their diet is part of the routine to which they cling as a way of preserving their well-being. Therefore, guardians are often alarmed when they perceive changes in the feeding habits of their cats. In this sense, something that is not so frequent but that is very strange for guardians, is to observe that their cats eat dirt, or eventually the sand from their own litter box.
If you are wondering why my cat eats dirt , in this article from Animal Expert we will talk about the main causes that can cause your cat to eat sand or dirt. Likewise, we will explain what to do to avoid this behavior problem, which can also lead to a very serious health problem .
You may also be interested: Why does my dog eat stones?
- My cat eats dirt, is it normal?
- 5 reasons why cats eat dirt
- Symptoms that my cat is eating dirt
- My cat eats dirt, what should I do?
My cat eats dirt, is it normal?
If your cat eats dirt, you shouldn’t make the mistake of considering this behavior to be normal, acceptable, or harmless. In fact, this anomalous behavior indicates to us that your well-being is compromised and, furthermore, that problems can occur in your state of health if we do not act quickly.
By ingesting dirt, your cat can come into contact with toxic substances, parasites, excrement, bacteria … Thus, the dirt can become a perfect means of contagion for numerous common diseases in cats . In addition, the consumption of foreign elements and bodies can irritate and inflame the gastrointestinal mucosa, which can cause a picture of gastritis . And in the event that the feline also ingests stones or pointed objects next to the earth, it is possible that it suffers an intestinal perforation , which can cause internal bleeding and even lead to the death of the animal.
However, why does a cat eat sand from the sandbox ? Or the soil in our garden? There is no single reason for this behavior in cats. A cat that eats dirt can do it for different causes and, to identify it, you will need to pay special attention to its routine, nutrition, state of health and day-to-day behavior.
Considering all the possible risks of ingesting soil for the health of your feline, we recommend you go to the vet if you have seen him carry out this behavior or you are suspicious that he may be doing it in your absence. Likewise, we will review below the possible causes for cats to eat dirt:
5 reasons why cats eat dirt
Although there are many other causes that can provoke the appearance of this behavior, below we will mention the five main causes that can answer your question about “why my cat eats dirt”:
- Pica syndrome: this health problem is characterized by the individual starting to eat inedible food with no nutritional value. It is more common in dogs than cats. The cat may start consuming plastics, wood, stones or, as in this case, sand.
- Stress, boredom or anxiety: cats need to have their body and mind well stimulated to maintain balanced behavior. If your cat does not have an enriched environment , does not do enough exercises, and cannot find ways to express its intelligence and curiosity, it will probably end up developing symptoms of stress or boredom. So, the habit of eating dirt can be a behavioral disturbance caused by the accumulated tension.
- Demand for care: Although they are usually characterized by having a more independent character, cats also experience a bond of affection with their guardians and their company is essential to provide them with a healthy and happy life. If you have been very busy and have not spent a special time playing with your cat, it is possible that it may adopt certain unusual behaviors to attract your attention, such as swallowing dirt or other strange elements.
- Intestinal Parasites: Certain animals, in the wild, have been shown to consume grass and other foods to purge themselves when infested with intestinal parasites . Thus, it will be essential to visit the vet to rule out this cause.
- Puppy Discovery: Finally, it is important to note that in the puppy stage, cats will experiment with all kinds of objects, surfaces and materials. It is totally normal and acceptable, a behavior that we should not repress as long as it is manifested in a timely manner.
Symptoms that my cat is eating dirt
Many guardians only realize that their cat eats dirt or stones when cleaning their litter box, since their body is not able to fully digest these types of elements and must eliminate them through feces . So the presence of residues or foreign elements in the cat’s feces is one of the first and most common symptoms of possible alterations in its eating habits.
But in the event that the feline consumes a large amount of soil , or ingests stones or foreign bodies, it may present the following symptoms:
- Recurrent retching and vomiting.
- Constipation or difficulty passing stools (the accumulation of dirt, sand, or stones can create a blockage in the intestinal tract, preventing the cat from defecating normally).
- Presence of blood in the stool (it can derive from the obstructions or from the consumption of stones and pointed elements).
- Symptoms common to gastritis in cats, such as vomiting, loss of appetite and weight, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, excessive drooling, etc.
- Weakness and loss of interest in your daily activities.
My cat eats dirt, what should I do?
Although cats can carry out this behavior in a timely manner, eating dirt is not a positive thing for the feline’s organism. On the one hand, it is important to consider that the consumption of contaminated soil can provoke the appearance of severe diseases in cats. Also, let’s not forget that this behavior can be a symptom of unbalanced nutrition, health and behavioral problems.
If you observe that your cat eats dirt, it is essential that you go to your vet to verify its state of health. After ruling out possible pathological causes, it will be important to pay special attention to your cat’s diet, environment and routine to combat and prevent the development of this behavior.
In this sense, we advise you to follow the following guidelines to prevent your cat from eating dirt, sand or other foreign bodies that affect its health:
- Feeding: you must provide a complete and balanced diet for your cat, according to the nutritional requirements of the species and the variations of each vital stage. You can opt for commercial food, such as animal feed, or for homemade recipes. If you have doubts, consult the specialist.
- Well-being: it will be essential to enrich the environment so that your feline finds positive ways to burn his energy, exercise, stimulate his mind and have fun, even when you are not at home.
- Game and socialization: it will be essential to reserve certain minutes each day to share exclusively with your cat, taking advantage to propose intelligence games and fun activities that allow him to express his instincts and senses. We will also offer you caresses, massages, brushing … What you like best!
- Hygiene: maintaining optimal hygiene at home, and especially the feline’s litter box, avoiding the accumulation of dirt, dead hair, stools and possibly pathogenic microorganisms, will be essential. Remember that cats are very clean animals!
- Preventive medicine: to finish, it will also be essential to make veterinary visits every 6 or 12 months that allow us to detect health problems quickly. Likewise, we will always respect your vaccination schedule and periodic deworming .