©2006 Publications International, Ltd. A cat that is eating objects around the house might not be getting enough food.

Dealing With Cats That Eat Nonfoods

Every kitten has tried to eat kitty litter -- and many have succeeded. Far from being a behavior problem, this is part of a cat's natural curiosity, and one of the ways a growing kitten explores her world and learns about what counts as food -- and what doesn't. Other cats, however, will get a yen for strange items that don't really qualify as food, some of which may even be unsafe.

Keep temptation out of her way. Rubber bands, paper clips, twist ties, bits of foil, and cellophane wrappers are some of the everyday things that cats love to explore with their mouths. Whether swallowed accidentally or on purpose, these otherwise harmless items can cause potentially deadly blockages in the cat's digestive system. Cat owners should be careful to keep tiny, easily swallowed items safely in drawers.

Is she telling you something? Pica is occasionally a signal that a cat isn't getting enough to eat -- or enough of the right nutrients. It can also sometimes be a sign that something is out of balance in the cat's body. Other times, the cat gets into the habit of eating odd things out of boredom -- in which case, more play or a playmate often takes care of the problem.

When to Call the Vet

It's always a good idea to consult your vet if your cat develops a craving for a nonfood or if you know she's swallowed a potentially dangerous item like a rubber band.

Probably the most common behavior problem that cat owners have is that their pet is constantly scratching their furniture. In the next section, we will give you some tips to keep your cat's claws to herself.