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Cat Eating Poop? Here’s What To Do

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
cat looking into litter box. another cat sitting to the side. do cats eat poop.

You may be asking yourself ‘why is my cat eating poop?’ Whether it’s their own or someone else’s, this behavior is totally gross! As a pet parent, you may be wondering what you can do to curb this behavior or if there are ways to prevent this habit. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. 

Do cats eat poop?

There are definitely instances of both kittens and adult cats snacking on poop. The behavior of eating poop is known as coprophagia. Coprophagia can also happen in dogs and other species of pets.

Why do cats eat poop?

The Biology Behind The Behavior

Some scientists theorize that young cats eat their poop to encourage normal intestinal flora to take root.

At certain life stages, eating feces may be pretty normal and even helpful behavior. Nursing mama cats frequently give their kittens tongue baths. This helps to keep them clean and encourages them to go to the bathroom on their own. Coprophagia can be normal behavior for young cats as well as dogs. Kittens are not born with gut bacteria. Some scientists theorize that young cats eat their poop to encourage normal intestinal flora to take root. Unfortunately, even if this habit started naturally, it can be tough to break. Young cats may grow out of it, but some don’t!

Medical Reasons

For some kitties, an unbalanced diet, malnutrition, or not eating enough calories may lead to them eating poop. Other causes can include intestinal parasites, poor nutrient absorption, and issues along the digestive tract. Less common reasons cats eat poop may be because their body thinks they are hungry when they are not; this is known as polyphagia. Certain diseases like thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus may cause polyphagia. Occasionally, eating feces may be lumped into a larger category of eating inappropriate things, called pica. Illnesses such as liver disease or anemia may trigger this behavior. Cognitive dysfunction may also lead to cats eating poop. The good news is that a trip to the vet, combined with lab work and fecal exams, can help pinpoint the problem. It can also help you work towards an appropriate care plan. 

brown cat is looking at the camera in mid bowel movement. cat eating poop.

Behavioral Reasons

An underlying behavioral issue is more likely to cause a cat to eat poop than a medical issue. Even if the problem started out as a normal part of their development, it can become a compulsive habit that is hard to break. Some pets actually develop a liking for the taste of poop, which makes it even harder.

Some common behavioral causes include stress and anxiety. Separation anxiety or changes to their daily routine are common underlying causes. Boredom or a lack of playtime may also lead to coprophagia, especially if they are confined to a small space for the first few months of their life. Another unexpected cause of cats eating poop stems from a pet wanting to avoid getting in trouble. It may be that they have an accident outside of the litter box and want to avoid upsetting their pawrent. So, they start to eat the evidence. This habit may also develop in pets with arthritis or cognitive dysfunction who have difficulty making it to the bathroom in time.

What are the health risks of your cat eating poop?

There are certain health risks if your cat eats poop. For example, if they eat the poop of a pet on thyroid medication, they may get sick from absorbing some of the medication. It also increases the risk of infection from Salmonella, E.Coli or internal parasites.

How to stop your cat from eating poop

To help deter your kitty from this habit, here are a few things you can try:

  • Clean the litter box as soon as your cat goes #2, or get an automatic litter box that cleans the poop immediately.
  • You can try slowing your cat’s eating with slow feeders to encourage better digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • You can offer more stimulation and play time for your kitty which is especially helpful for cats with behavioral coprophagia.

Natural support for cats eating poop

Depending on what the cause of the coprophagia is, we have different supplements that could help.

For cats suffering from stress and anxiety-induced coprophagia, we recommend Matricalm. This all-natural blend of calming herbs helps to relax your kitty and helps to discourage restless behavior.

For cats with a parasitic infection, we recommend ourNatural Deworming Gold Kit. It contains two of our supplements, Inulin-PK and Milk Thistle, to encourage the elimination of parasites and to help encourage gut healing.

For cats suffering from an endocrine disorder like hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s, we have supplements that are ailment-specific. Resthyro is our supplement formulated specifically for hyperthyroidism. It promotes balanced thyroid function and can help with symptoms like increased appetite. Supraglan is helpful for pets with adrenal disorders like Cushing’s disease. It supports healthy adrenal function and can also help manage symptoms.

If your pet needs support with their diet, we recommend Multi Essentials and Yucca. Together, these two supplements help deliver vital nutrients to the body and encourage better digestion and absorption. For pet parents looking for a well-balanced home-cooked diet, our in-house vet Dr. Amanda offers personalized nutrition plans that consider your pet’s unique needs. 

You can always count on us if you ever need us. We are just a message away, so tap on the button below to start chatting with us!

NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: June 7, 2022

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