8 Simple Steps to Stopping Pica


1. Prevent access to tempting items by hiding them. Even if your cat doesn’t have pica, it’s a wise idea to keep items like yarn, rubber bands, and tinsel and Venetian blind cords out of reach. Instead, offer a variety of safer toys.

2. Play with your cat. He may be bored or lonely. When you’re home, set aside 10 minutes twice a day for interactive playtime.

3. Make his environment more interesting by providing fish tanks and treat balls to keep him entertained and cat trees to climb. Build or buy an outdoor enclosure where he can watch birds and chase insects. Train him to wear a harness and go for walks.

4. Block his view of the outdoors if seeing roaming cats causes him stress.

5. Make appealing items unappealing. Apply strong-smelling or foul-tasting aversives to objects your pet loves to chew on. Cayenne pepper, Bitter Apple, Bitter Cherry spray, hot sauce or other condiments can serve as deterents.

6. Try behavior modification. If your cat’s pica is stress or frustration related, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist may be able to help. Many offer remote consultations and can work together with your veterinarian to solve the problem. Veterinarians can often provide referrals.

7. Catch him in the act with a loud noise or a spray of water. If possible, don’t let your cat see that these surprises come from you. He may associate you with the noise or spray and become fearful of you. Then praise him extravagantly when he leaves a non-food item alone.

8. Be patient. Because pica behavior varies in cats and every environment is different, there’s no “one-size-fits-all-cats” cure.