A cat that chews on plastic objects such as grocery bags and bottle caps has most likely developed a condition called pica, which causes unusual cravings for nonfood items, according to WebMD. Pica can develop for many reasons, including gastrointestinal issues and dental disease. "Cats may also chew plastic due to anxiety," says Dr. Amy Pike, DVM, of Veterinary Behavior Consultations in St. Louis, Mo.Continue Reading
Causes of anxiety that may lead a cat to chew on plastic include a lack of enriching activity, social tension with other cats in the household, separation anxiety or fear of thunderstorms. "If the cat is anxious, there is a benefit to the cat -- it is a coping mechanism that may help to diminish anxiety, much like hair twirling or biting your nails," explains Dr. Pike.
Some cats with pica are attracted to other nonfood items besides plastic, including wool fabrics, shoelaces, paper or electrical cords, according to Nicholas H. Dodman, program director of Animal Behavior at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Pike's advice is to consult with a veterinarian first to rule out possible medical problems. According to VetStreet, cat pica can be associated with conditions such as feline leukemia, diabetes, brain tumors and feline immunodeficiency virus. Once medical conditions are ruled out, environmental factors can be considered. "Some cats require more environmental stimulation than others," states Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, certified applied animal behaviorist at Tufts Cummings.Learn more about Cats
Chewing ice can be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia but can also be related to pica, a condition in which people crave and chew nonfood items like ice, soil or paper, notes Mayo Clinic. Doctors don't know what causes some people with anemia to crave ice, as of 2015.Full Answer >
Cats can lose hair on the back of their legs when they have an illness or a condition such as congenital hypotrichosis, eosinophilic granuloma, feline endocrine alopecia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism or are simply under a large amount of stress and anxiety according to WebMD. There are other conditions that can cause cats to lose hair, though usually not on the back legs, such as cortisone excess, demodectic mange, indolent ulcers, psychogenic alopecia, ringworm and stud tail, reports WebMD.Full Answer >
The Pet Health Network explains that shivering in cats can be an indication of pain, anxiety, fear, nervousness or low body temperature. The website notes that an endocrine disorder known as Addison's disease can cause cats to shiver as well.Full Answer >
While cats can verbalize their feelings through meows, chirps and growls, being able to interpret their body language is key for communication. Over time, cats can learn to understand and recognize tones of voice and mood, especially when their owners use them consistently. Keep in mind that cats and humans sometimes have contradictory body language, and while a human may stare at their pet to show affection, a cat often interprets direct eye contact as a challenge or threat.Full Answer >