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.



Question

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.

Answer

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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