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Pica is the abnormal appetite for non-food material, e.g. wool and other fabrics, cat litter, houseplants or licking concrete or stones. It can arise as a behavioural problem or can be the result of an underlying medical problem such as anaemia. Thorough history taking may suggest whether the pica is due to a behavioural or a medical condition. This chapter looks at behavioural pica, pica secondary to a medical condition, diagnostic approach and empirical treatment.

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5.27.1 Lateral abdominal radiograph of a 2-year-old cat presented with severe anaemia and related pica, which comprised ingestion of cat litter. The pica had resulted in small intestinal obstruction that necessitated surgery. There is mineralized material in both the small and large intestine. Dilation of the small intestine (arrowed) indicated obstruction (small intestinal diameter in the cat should not exceed 12 mm and it was >12 mm in this case). This loop of bowel was identified as small intestine as it is not in the position or orientation of the ascending, transverse or descending colon; a ventrodorsal view would help confirm this. (Courtesy of Andrea Harvey)
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5.27.2 Diagnostic approach to pica.
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