Category Archives: wool sucking in cats

Why Does My Cat Do That?


By Ruthie Bently

Anyone who’s ever shared their life with a cat has spent time watching them. Cats are fascinating creatures, and when an owner takes the time to watch them they get a better insight into the mind, instincts, likes and dislikes of their feline friend. If you live with multiple cats, you can watch them interact with each other. Domestic cats are not as large as tigers or lions, but you get a glimpse into what life in a pride may be like when you watch a group of cats. We might not always understand why our cats do what they do, but there’s always a reason behind their actions.

Your cat’s behavior may be driven by instinct, or one of their senses (smell, hearing or sight). I had a cat that tried to bury their food bowl by folding the cloth placemat the bowl sat on over their dish. This is instinctual and is done to protect the cat from predators. While domestic cats don’t hide their food up a tree (as a jaguar does), by burying it they are hiding their meal from another animal. Kittens learn to bury food from their mother. This is also a behavior for self-preservation; it keeps a predator from finding the kittens in the nest. Cats that drop toys in their water dish are hiding them in a place they feel is safe.

Kittens knead their mother to increase the milk flow from their mother’s nipples; a cat may do it as they settle in your lap for a nap. It is a pleasurable remembrance from kittenhood that’s done to show love to their owner, and may be accompanied by purring and drooling. Sucking on fingers and toes may be performed by a kitten when their mother is not available for a snack. It is also an adult behavior linked to weaning too early, as is sucking on wool, clothing, buttons, zippers or small objects around the house.

Does your cat wait until you are in bed to begin playing? They race up and down their cat tree at the speed of light. They whiz through the bedroom bouncing off the furniture and charging underneath it. They attack your feet under the blankets or bring you their favorite toy in an attempt to get you to play with them. Cats will even try to hunt the insects they see buzzing outside the window. A cat’s eyesight is superior at night and instinct tells them this is when they should be hunting. Cats sleep between sixteen and eighteen hours a day; if you work away from home, they don’t have you to play with during the day. If this nighttime behavior is unacceptable to you, try tiring your cat out before bed by playing fetch with them or using an interactive toy like a peacock feather.

Does your cat jump on the sink when you’re washing your hands or dishes, and begin drinking out of the faucet? Or do they sit in the bathroom sink and meow for you to come and turn it on for them? Cats would rather drink running water than water sitting in a dish. It contains more oxygen and is fresher than the water in their dish even if it’s changed every day. Consider getting a cat fountain. The one I like recirculates the water and comes with charcoal filters to keep the water clean. You can even purchase a hydroponic wheat grass accessory and grow your own cat grass right in the fountain.

Have you ever walked into a room and your cat grabs you around the ankle and bites you? If your cat is a kitten they may be teething. An older cat may have aggression issues and need an outlet. Declawed cats may begin biting due to frustration. It could be due to a simple case of boredom. If your cat waylays you in the same place, carry a favorite toy in a pocket and toss it for them before you are grabbed. A cat being petted in your lap may bite or growl suddenly to let you know they’ve had enough and want you to stop. Offer a toy as a safe alternative to distract them from you and teach them that biting people is not appropriate with a forceful “No.”

Does your cat chitter at something they see on television or outside, like a chipmunk, bird or a bug? Cat behaviorists compare this sound to a bite that wild cats use to dispatch their prey quickly. An inside cat may become alert and seem excited; the sound may be accompanied by rapid tail wagging. Does your cat meow in an excessive manner? See my article on night calling for some solutions.

Observing your cat gives you a chance to see inside a world non-cat owners don’t understand. Remember that cats are ruled by instincts, and their senses can make life easier and more enjoyable for all.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Does Your Cat Eat Strange Things? It Might Be Pica


By Julia Williams

I have a “foodie” cat that likes corn, beans, peas, pasta, Cheetos, popcorn, scrambled eggs – pretty much any food that doesn’t eat him first. As a responsible pet owner I don’t give him these things, except for a small morsel once in a great while; I’m just saying he would eat them if he could. Although Rocky’s obsession with food is not exactly typical for a feline, it’s far less worrisome than the eating disorder known as pica.

Pica (pronounced “PIE-kuh”) is the voluntary ingestion of non-food items. While more common in cats, pica can occur in dogs and people too, especially children. Cats who have pica will eat things like yarn, tape, plastic bags, wool and other fabrics, electrical cords, plants, kitty litter, shoelaces and paper.

Why do cats eat weird things?

Although the exact cause of why some cats have a penchant for eating non-food items is not fully understood, a genetic component is suspected since the disorder is more commonly found in oriental breeds like Siamese and Burmese. According to Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, pica has also been linked to a variety of diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Other suspected causes of pica include mineral deficiencies, diabetes, brain tumors and other illnesses. If all medical causes have been ruled out, pica may be a manifestation of behavioral or psychological issues such as boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, comfort, compulsive urges, and learned behavior.

Cat pica is sometimes associated with wool-sucking, although the two are not really the same thing. Wool sucking is generally believed to be a compulsive, misdirected form of nursing behavior, caused perhaps by abrupt early weaning of kittens. Additionally, cats who engage in wool sucking usually do not progress to the stage of actually eating the blankets, sweaters, stuffed animals and other “objects of their affection.” You can read more about wool sucking in cats here.

Is pica dangerous for your cat?

Beyond the obvious perils of chewing on power cords, ingesting plants that are poisonous for pets, or consuming potentially toxic non-food items, pica is dangerous because the items could become lodged in their stomach or intestine. This blockage can be fatal since it prevents the passage of food and may cut off blood supply to the organs. If your cat regularly eats non-food items and becomes lethargic, vomits or displays erratic behavior, see your veterinarian immediately.

Treatments for cat pica

Because pica may be a sign of an underlying health problem, any cat who shows an interest in consuming unusual non-food items should be examined by a vet. If no medical issues can be found, treatment may include:

● Keeping the targeted items (blankets, tape, cords, plastic bags etc.) out of your cat’s reach.

● Redirecting their impulse to more appropriate and safer items, such as food-dispensing toys or durable cat toys. For felines who like to snack on plants, you could try growing some catnip or cat grass just for them.

● A copious amount of interactive playtime can help if the cause of your cat’s pica is related to boredom.

● Increasing the fiber in your cat’s diet (but please consult your vet before making any changes to their diet).

● Deterring the chewing by applying hot sauce, Bitter Apple or other aversive substances to the objects they favor.

If your cat eats weird things, it might be pica, or it might not be. It’s crucial to have them examined by their vet to determine if there are any underlying medical issues. This quirky behavior might seem cute, but it’s really not. And since it could be harmful to them, it’s something you will certainly want professional help with, so your kitty can live a long and healthy life.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Stop Wool Sucking in Cats


By Julia Williams

I had a gray tabby cat named Binky who was the sweetest, most affectionate feline I’ve ever known. Binky was my kitty companion for 19 years, and I loved her dearly. But Binky had a bizarre habit – she sucked on my blankets and sweaters until they became a soggy mess. Like countless other cat owners confronted with such odd behavior, I thought something must be mentally wrong with Binky. Should Binky see a cat therapist, I wondered? I opted to consult with my vet instead, who informed me that Binky’s behavior was actually fairly common. It even had a name: wool sucking.

What causes wool sucking in cats?

Some cats, like Binky, become fixated with sucking, licking or chewing on fabrics. Because wool is generally the fabric of choice, this behavior became known as wool sucking. Although there is no definitive answer as to why cats engage in wool sucking, it is believed to be a misdirected, compulsive behavior related to nursing and too-early weaning of kittens. Genetics may also play a part. Although many people wonder if there might be something missing in the cat’s diet that causes them to be wool suckers, my vet said this was highly unlikely.

For survival reasons, a young kitten’s drive to nurse is quite strong. Healthy kittens nurse vigorously until they are about six to seven weeks old. After that, the momma cat usually rebuffs the kittens when they try to nurse, until they are completely weaned and eating solid food on their own. As the kitten grows older and naturally progresses to solid food, their drive to nurse fades. But in some cases, when a kitten experiences abrupt early weaning while their nursing drive is still strong, they may turn to non-nutritional substitutes that have the same feel as Mom, such as that soft wool blanket on your bed.

Is wool sucking dangerous for your cat?

Wool sucking is a strange behavior, to be sure. Having spittle -soaked blankets is no picnic either. But is wool sucking harmful to your cat? As long as the behavior stays at the wool sucking stage and doesn’t progress to the chewing and swallowing stage, it may not be a problem that requires intervention on your part. The kitten may also outgrow the behavior in time. If they don’t, and the wool sucking turns to chewing and swallowing, the behavior could be dangerous for your cat because they could suffer intestinal obstruction from the ingested fabric.

What can you do about wool sucking?

As I said, sometimes the wool sucking will subside on its own. It may go away completely, or your kitten or cat may only engage in wool sucking in times of stress or conflict. If your cat engages in wool sucking, the right course of action would be to have your cat examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the behavior. Then, depending upon what your vet recommends, you may want to consider consulting with a cat behaviorist.

If your vet feels that your cat’s wool sucking is endangering its health, they may suggest one of the following treatments:

Aversion – If your cat only sucks on one or two objects, you can try a pet deterrent spray. Just be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t harm the fabric.

Eliminate or reduce sources of stress for your cat – Some possible stressors include: separation anxiety, conflicts with other cats and dogs in your household, neighborhood cats coming into your yard, rowdy visitors and loud noises.

Redirect the wool-eating – When you see your cat chomping on your favorite sweater or blanket, offer it something else to suck on, such as a fuzzy sock or a soft cat toy.

Drug Therapy – Your veterinarian may prescribe medication such as anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.

Discourage the behavior – If you catch your cat in the act of wool sucking, gently tap them on the nose and say, “No” in a firm voice. You can also help to discourage the wool sucking by not giving them access to the objects they like to suck on. For example, keep all clothes picked up and put away, and always make your bed so the blanket is covered up.

I found Binky in my backyard when she was only about five weeks old, so the theory that wool sucking is caused by abrupt early weaning makes sense to me. Binky never did outgrow the wool sucking behavior completely, but since she did it less frequently as she got older and never progressed to wool eating, I viewed it more as an annoyance rather than a problem which required treatment. As in all cases where your cat exhibits strange behavior, you should discuss it with your vet to determine if treatment is necessary.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.