We have a 15-year-old seal tortie point Siamese cat named Minerva (Minnie for short). She is on several medications, including Denamarin for a liver problem and Zeniquin for a respiratory problem. She eats well and keeps her weight at 11 pounds, which is good for her size. But we have noticed that for the past several months, she searches for cobwebs everywhere in the house, and if she finds one, she eats it. We work hard to remove these, but she finds a few from time to time. She does this before eating her regular food, and it appears that she may have some dietary deficiency. We know that humans who have an iron deficiency sometimes crave and eat yeast, ice or dirt, and we wonder if it is possible that animals can experience the same sort of problem and cravings. Is there anything you can recommend for Minnie that will help her end her constant search for cobwebs?
D.M.R., Silver Spring, Md Feb 28, 2012
Your cobweb-craving cat may be seeking materials in your house that she can consume as "roughage." Minnie may delight in a pot of sprouted wheatgrass or other green sprouts like alfalfa, which you can grow for her or purchase in pet stores. Also, try a pinch of dried organic catnip. If she drinks well, adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of psyllium seed husks to her food every three to four days may be beneficial, especially if she (like many old cats) is constipated. Additionally, a daily teaspoon of plain yogurt may help reduce her pica, which is the craving for nonfood substances -- usually dirt and plant materials. Pica can be a sign of anemia or other nutritional deficiencies, or it could be discomfort from digestive problems and more serious chronic diseases. Giving her a supplement of pediatric multivitamins and minerals, 1/2 teaspoon of brewer's yeast and a drop or two of fish oil daily may help your cat. One tablespoon of lightly cooked calf's liver every few days is also a good idea.
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