Cats explore with their paws and mouths. They explore the world for themselves by sniffing and tasting. It is normal for your cat to chew on bits of cloth, eat paper, or take in a mouthful of dirt from time to time. But there are cases when a cat’s nibbling habits are cause for concern. A cat that eats dirt or litter may be seeking trace minerals such as iron, a sign of anemia.
Anemia is a deficiency in red blood cells, which are needed to carry oxygen throughout the body and keep organs functioning properly. Anemic animals often become weak and lethargic. Cat may sleep more than usual and their toes and ears are often cooler than normal. They often stop grooming themselves as carefully as they used to. Some cat may loose their interest in food, playtime.
Anemia is most prevalent in cats that roam in the spring and summer, increasing their risk for flea infestation. Proper flea prevention is important for preventing parasites (fleas, ticks, lice) from spreading harmful organisms to your cat, which can cause feline infectious anemia.
The most common underlying cause of anemia is chronic disease, as anemia is a typical side effect of age related health conditions. If you suspect anemia, see your vet immediately. Your cat’s oral fixation may just signal the urge to “explore.”
Here are some tips to modify the behavior:
• Secure targeted items, such as blankets, houseplants, and electric cords.
• Entertain your cat with interactive toys. Plant catnip indoors to lure your cat to this “houseplant” instead. Cats chew when they are bored, so keep them busy.
• Consult with your vet to determine whether dietary changes are necessary to fulfill your cat’s nutrition needs.