Hugo is recovering at the Vancouver SPCA after having surgery to remove about 100 hair bands and elastics from his stomach. He is the second cat in two weeks to arrive at the branch after eating non-food material.
Some cats who have a long-term habit of eating non-food items have a compulsive disorder called Pica. The behavior can be caused by an underlying medical condition, stress, boredom or because they are not receiving enough attention. Pet guardians should never punish their pet for eating or chewing on objects but simply remove the item their cat is eating.
“Keep an eye on your pets. Don’t leave hair bands, strings or rope lying around the house because some cats will eat these items,” says Vancouver SPCA branch manager Jodi Dunlop.
Cats can be given appropriate toys or activities to positively redirect their behavior and be rewarded with treats and praise. Pet guardians should make sure to play with their cat at least once a day to reduce boredom and stress levels.
Dogs will often chew or eat things that are not good for their digestive systems when they are out for a walk.
“Train your dog to learn commands such as ‘leave it’ or drop it’ to make sure they aren’t eating things they find on the ground,” says Dunlop.
If your dog or cat seems lethargic, starts gagging, vomiting and is not having normal bowel movements be sure to take them to the vet.
As for Hugo, he is feeling much better and will be ready for adoption in about a week.