Help! My Cat Is Eating Litter From The Litter Box

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, believes this abnormal behavior may be a sign of anemia.

Use the litter box for a bathroom, not a kitchen. Via Tom Thai/Wikipedia


Is there any reason why my cat would eat sand from her litterbox? Of course, since I noticed this happening, I now monitor her when she is in the litterbox to keep her from eating litter.

I’ve recently noticed that she sits on the litter and stays there for some time, as if she were about to evacuate. However, sometimes nothing happens, and that worries me. She is 10 years old and is fighting against a recurring fibrosarcoma.


Eating clay cat litter is uncommon, but it can be a sign of anemia. In the past four years, I’ve treated two patients for severe anemia that had, as one of their primary clinical signs, ingested cat litter. In one case, the anemia was treated successfully. The owner switched from clay litter to a wheat-based litter. The cat’s condition relapsed, and the anemia returned. When that happened, the cat began to lick the silverware.

As you can see, cats can show unusual ingestive behavior when they are anemic. I recommend your cat checked for anemia as soon as possible, especially since your cat is valiantly battling cancer. Cancer is a major cause of anemia in cats. As for the straining in the litterbox, I can’t tell, based on your description, if she’s straining to urinate or to defecate.

Straining to defecate would suggest a constipation problem, and she may need to change diets or be given stool softeners. If it seems to be a constipation problem, your vet can discuss various constipation treatments. Straining to urinate could be secondary to a urinary tract infection, crystals in her urine, a bladder stone or interstitial cystitis.

Ask your veterinarian to check this out when testing for anemia. If it seems to be a urinary issue, a urinalysis, urine culture and bladder X-ray may be necessary to discern which lower urinary tract disorder is responsible for her clinical signs.

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Cats


  • What if the cat is eating litter pellets?

    Maria November 27, 2016 5:50 am Reply

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