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1 Thing Only a Siamese Meowmy Would Understand: Wool Sucking

Does your Siamese love to lick and chew on blankets, clothing, string, even plastic bags? If so, she is definitely not alone! This behavior is commonly found in Siamese cats and is collectively known as pica. There is a whole range of non-food items that are irresistible to some cats: wool and other fabrics, human hair, elastic hair bands, plastic bags, cardboard, yarn, string, electric cords, etc. Each cat has her own particular favorites. While not necessarily dangerous, it varies in severity and should be monitored. The sucking can lead to eating, which leads to possible intestinal blockage and expensive surgery!

Causes

There are several possible causes–a genetic component is suspected as cats in all Oriental breeds, as well as their crosses, often do it. Early weaning may also contribute, and again Oriental breeds have special characteristics–they tend to have longer nursing periods than the normal 6 – 7 weeks, but may not have had the option to nurse longer. Other domestic kittens weaned at a very early age are also more prone to pica.

Physical issues such as dietary deficiency, hunger, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus are factors as well. So it is important to consult your veterinarian to rule these out.

What To Do

If your cat is eating a high-quality food, has good energy, healthy skin, a shiny coat, and has been checked out by a vet, it is time to look at behavioral factors. When our Gremlin was a kitten, we noticed that he wanted to suckle often, and it comforted him when he was feeling anxious. Not surprising, since he was getting used to a new home with new people and new cats. We taught him to use one particular blanket, so he could feel safe AND we could be spared soggy clothing!

Over time he largely outgrew this, though he still half-heartedly tries on occasion. And now it is mainly during cuddles when he feels loved and secure. Unfortunately, he also likes to chew on string and hair bands. Impossible to leave these things around where he can get to them unattended, and he is very sneaky! Knows all the hiding places and waits for his moment….

Siamese cats are high energy, so boredom may also trigger pica. Provide safer alternatives such as food-dispensing toys or small pots of organic wheatgrass. If you cannot keep your baby away from the things she wants to chew, and you consider these things to be a danger, make them unpleasant by applying bitter apple spray. You may even need physical deterrants like sticky tape or Ssscat.

Understanding Siamese Cats Book Cover

Wool Sucking is Usually Harmless

Though pica can be worrisome, it is usually easy to make environmental changes and minimize it. Don’t punish; this can increase anxiety and create a situation where your cat will want to wool suck even more. Baby-proofing your home will generally be sufficient to keep it under control. However, if it is not, and you feel that this is a serious danger to her health, a veterinary behaviorist may be recommended if significant environmental and behavior modification plans, including medication, are required.

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