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Wool & Fabric Sucking and those darn Cats - Why do they do it?
Written by: Alfred

Fabric or wool sucking actually is common for cats. Some cats
indulge their fabric sucking only occasionally, others seem
obsessive about it. But this habit can also be an indicator
of an emotional or physical problem with your cat. Cats
usually start this habit around mid-life and it can be a
habit for the rest of the cat's life.

Here are some theories as to why this occurs:

- Early Weaning
- Stress
- Genetics
- Diet

Domestic cats should be weaned at six to seven weeks of age.
Occasionally early weaning occurs for one reason or another
and the urge to suckle is still a very strong instinct in
the kitten. They may try to suckle anything that is warm and
soft like their mother was. This can be anything like your
sweater, a pillow, a blanket, etc.

Another factor is stress, and when a cat is stressed it may
start to exhibit unusual behaviors like wool sucking. Some
other indicators that your cat may be stressed are
compulsive paw licking, chewing on the tail, fur pulling,
repeated licking of the flanks, turning in circles, and
similar compulsive activities.

Genetics may also play a role in wool sucking. The oriental
breeds seem to be more prone to this type of behavior,
including the Siamese, Tonkinese, Balinese and any cross
from these breeds.

Some people believe that a cat that sucks on wool may be
lacking fiber in its diet and doesn't distinguish between
food fiber and non-food fiber. If the cat is only sucking on
a particular item or type of item you may want to
investigate this possibility. Is there a particular scent on
the item? Is there a chemical or lotion that has come in
contact with the item?

PICA is a compulsion to eat non-food substances. This can
include cloth, wood, plastic, or nearly anything else,
including dirt. This can be because of the lack of a
specific vitamin or mineral in the diet. This behavior is
seen in both humans and other animals, as well.

PICA is not a habit that should be taken lightly. The fiber
that your cat is sucking on can cause hairballs (thread
balls?) and digestive problems. If you see your cat vomiting
a lot and/or it is having trouble pooping then you should
take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

In any case, if this behavior persists then you should take
your cat to the veterinarian and have it checked for a
deficiency, and have the cat put on medication. This type of
behavior is destructive and can harm your cat. When you see
your cat begin to suck, distract the kitty, play with the
kitty and do not allow the wool sucking to continue if you
can stop it. You can even retrain your cat with a water
pistol if you must. In any case, correcting the behavior
through medication, supplements or training is best for your cat.

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