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Why does my cat lick coal?

Dr Pete Wedderburn / 19 March 2019

A reader is wondering whether her cat's habit of licking coal is a sign of a nutrient deficiency.

Cat licking her lips
A reader is worried about her cat's unusual habit of licking coal


Over winter we noticed our cat spent a lot of time licking coal in the coal scuttle, ending up with a black snout. Could there be a mineral deficiency? He eats wet food and has access to outdoors.


Modern pet food is nutritionally complete, so this is unlikely to be a deficiency. It’s known as “pica”, and while it’s usually just a harmless odd habit, in some cases it can indicate hidden health issues (such as anaemia). It’s safest to get him checked out by your vet.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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