A closer look: Eating Feces (Coprophagia) in Cats
Cats exhibiting coprophagia benefit from medical intervention to rule out underlying health issues, such as pica.
The severity of coprophagia depends on how recurrent the behavior is. Cats consuming large amounts of feces may have more severe underlying conditions that must be addressed promptly.
Prompt removal of feces from accessible areas prevents cats from continuing to consume it, and benefits treatment whether the cause is medical or behavioral.
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Coprophagia may be due to malnutrition.
It may also be seen in cats living in unsanitary conditions where feces are abundant in the environment as part of normal cleaning behavior.
Coprophagia is most common in lactating cats and kittens, and is uncommon in other cats.
Eating feces is not a medical emergency. However, consumption of feces may lead to parasitic infection and transmission. In rare cases, feces may have undigested medication in them. If a cat exhibiting coprophagia ingests feces contaminated with medication, it can have a more serious health impact.
Testing and diagnosis
- A detailed history of eating habits and environment
- A physical examination
- Fecal examination
Treatment varies depending on underlying cause, and may include medication, antibiotics, and dietary changes. Cats experiencing behavioral causes of coprophagia benefit from increased exercise and enrichment.
Eating feces is self-evident and not likely to be confused with other symptoms.