Does your cat eat weird stuff? Most felines beg for meat and occasionally other foods like cheese, but is your cat sitting near your chair, begging for puzzle pieces or craft parts? Or gobbling up the paper ball she’s played with? What is up with that?

Eating non-food objects can harm your cat if she ingests something sharp, poisonous or corrosive. “Pica” describes a condition where people crave inedible objects such as cloth, paper or chalk. Cats who seem to have pica may eat strange things for many reasons.

Some cats may be bored and eat to keep busy. If the food is gone, they may eat random objects for something to do. Provide your kitty with safe cat toys (inspect them periodically for wear), and a window seat of a birdfeeder or other motion-oriented view. Play with kitty daily and enlist the help of a pet sitter if you’re gone for long stretches.

Cats like to eat greens occasionally. To meet this need and keep your cat out of your flower arrangements (some cats eat dried, silk and real flowers in their quest for greens!), offer servings of cat grass or catnip occasionally.

Cats’ prey drive is huge. And once they catch prey, they want to eat it, whether it’s a ball of paper or a mouse. Again, providing appropriate toys can help diminish her strange eating habits.

Your cat may not have enough or the right kind of food to eat. Eating objects may help him feel satisfied. Ask your vet about your cat’s nutritional needs to make sure you’re feeding him right. 

In the meantime, keep clutter picked up whenever you’re gone to minimize forbidden noshing. Say “No!” sharply when kitty nibbles at non-food objects. Breaking this bad happen isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant