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A. The behavior you’ve described is generally called
pica, which is an abnormal desire to eat inedible things. Wool chewing or wool sucking is not at all uncommon in animals who have the disorder, especially in the so-called
Oriental breeds such as the
Siamese. Though the target is often a soft fabric — such as wool — some cats prefer other objects, such as
plastic grocery bags. We’re not really sure what causes the behavior, but since it is more common in some breeds than others, it is believed to have a genetic component. It was long believed that wool chewing was a result of a kitten who was separated from her mother too soon (probably because the behavior can look like nursing), but that’s not believed to be the case today. Nor is it believed to be linked to dietary deficiency.
Best guess: It’s a habit (like people who chew fingernails, pop knuckles, chew gum) that relieves stress and brings comfort.
Unfortunately, there is no 100 percent effective cure for it. Things to try:
If all else fails, ask your veterinarian if she'd recommend medication to help with compulsive behavior.
More on Vetstreet:
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