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A cat with a taste for clothing. HELP!

mrfredman
January 15th, 2008, 12:27 AM
My girlfriend and I got an adorable 1 year old Siamese from the shelter about two months ago. For the first month and a half or so she behaved perfectly and was a total angel.
Over winter break (we are college students), my girlfriend took her cat home with her for a few weeks to meet the family. We knew that cats dont like new environments, but she is an extraordinarily patient cat, and while we were there she seemed totally at ease and content, albeit a bit bored.

Since we've been back at school though she has acquired quite the bad habit. She is constantly trying to eat our clothes, she has eaten a giant hole in one of my sweaters, significant pieces of many socks, the pockets out of my sweatpants, and anything else she can get her mouth on.
Don't worry, we have talked to the vet and are carefully monitoring her poop, so far she has been passing all of the cloth she eats, and there is no blockage, but we are worried something will happen. How can we stop this behavior?

We are forced to confine her to the bedroom when we aren't around so that she doesn't destroy the rest of the house, but I think that is making her even more depressed, which is leading to more bad behavior. What can we do?

sugarcatmom
January 15th, 2008, 07:25 AM
Sounds like your cat has Pica (eating non-edible items). Treatment for severe cases can sometimes require anti-anxiety medication, but some cats do outgrow it on their own. Hopefully that's the case with your girl.

Some more info on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders in cats: http://www.vin.com/VINDBPub/SearchPB/Proceedings/PR05000/PR00026.htm

FABRIC EATING, SUCKING, AND CHEWING
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can manifest itself as an eating disorder. Fabric eating, chewing, and sucking may not be associated with any nutritive considerations relevant to eating disorders and may represent obsessive-compulsive disorders associated with stereotypic chewing or mouth movements. There is no unanimity among veterinary behaviourists/non-veterinary behaviourists as to causes and label of these behaviours. Oriental breeds are among the most common breeds in which these conditions are reported. In one study (UK) of 152 fabric-eating cats, 55% were Siamese, 28 % were Burmese, and 11% were crossbreeds. Typical age of onset was two to eight months. Males were as likely as females to present with the problem. Most animals were neutered. Ninety three percent started with wool and moved on to other fabrics (64% also ate cotton and 54% ate synthetic fabrics). Another author claims that this behavioural trait is generally restricted to the Siamese breed and the wool chewing begins at about the time of puberty. This author states that most cats seem to give up wool chewing within one year. Data compilation on this condition has not yet been performed in the United States. Some cats will progress to ingesting plastic, rubber and even wood.

The exact cause of the behaviour is unknown. Some authors have suggested increasing the amount of fibre in the diet, whereas others have given the cat gristly meat attached to large bones. Others have made an unwanted piece of woolen garment available to the cat generally at meal times. In some cats, the onset of pica (ingestion of non-digestible items) is triggered by a stressful event, for example, moving from the breeders to a new home or the addition of another cat to the household. Close attention should be paid to social interactions between household cats. Aggression can be present without overt signs. Cats will posture and can threaten other cats silently.

Wool sucking may be a behaviour that is “left over” from the prolonged 6-month suckling period common in feral cats. Cats that are weaned particularly early seem to be over-represented in that population. Again, different authors do not agree on whether wool sucking and wool chewing are distinct or related problems. Data compilation is lacking.

want4rain
January 15th, 2008, 08:33 AM
mine eats electrical cords. :wall:

which... i suppose is a little better than your situation cause i can spray everythign with bitter apple spray and not worry about it. clothing is a little difficult to spray. :) they are (in my case anyway) likely to shift their OCD habits to other things. one day my cat decided i needed a bath. ive been getting baths several times a day for months now. when i dont take the time to get a regular bath he chews his fur off. :rolleyes: he still chews cords and eats my kids toys(wooden OR plastic!!) but its not as bad now.

i would try different fabrics and see if there is a fairly durable one that you can find for him to chew/suck on.

-ashley

Kristin7
January 15th, 2008, 10:03 AM
Does she only eat clothes? If so, just put them away where she cannot get at them. Also, are the materials she has chewed on made of wool? If so, this is a trait of Siamese cats, they love wool and will chew or suck on it. Not all of them will but if you look around on the web you can find out more. Here are some examples:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?cls=1&cat=1310&articleid=1154
http://www.cat-world.com.au/PicaInCats.htm
http://www.petplace.com/cats/compulsive-feeding-behavior/page1.aspx
http://petcaretips.net/wool_sucking.html

The cats I've had that have chewed on things (like plants) have eventually grown out of it.

CyberKitten
January 15th, 2008, 03:33 PM
Yes, it is called pica and for some reason, bored Siamese kitties especially LOVE wool. Is she an only cat? The best solution is 2 cats or to jeep her really really busy. If you are away in the day - she WILL chew your clothes. It not all that uncommon in energetic meezers, It is not really an obsessive disorder - and I have researched it greatly. It is boredom. Find her a sister or brother and she'll forget all about wool or any material.

In the meantime, pick up or put away/hide anything you do nor want chewed when you are not home. IHere is a list of treatment options from a meezer org I belong to:

Treatment:

To rule out medical causes, a veterinarian should examine all cats displaying pica. Once your veterinarian gives your cat a clean bill of health, discuss with them what steps you can take to modify your cat's behavior. These may include the following:

1.

Remove targeted items - Placing clothing, blankets, houseplants and electric cords out of the reach of your cat is often the easiest solution. Storage containers, electric cord guards, and other useful items are available at most home supply stores.
2.

Provide alternative items to chew or eat - Food-dispensing toys, durable cat toys, or pieces of rawhide can be used to redirect your cat's chewing behavior to more appropriate and safe items (see handout). For cats attracted to houseplants, small flowerpots of grass or catnip can be planted and kept indoors. Birdfeed can be used as a safe source of plant seed.
3.

Provide lots of structured play - Many cats chew on household items out of boredom. Provide interactive toys and set aside time each day to play with your cat.
4.

Increase dietary fiber - It may help to increase the amount of fiber in your cat's diet. Besides providing more dietary fiber, high fiber foods usually contain fewer calories. Your cat may be able to satisfy their craving to eat more while still maintaining their weight. Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your cat's diet.
5.

Make targeted items aversive - Occasionally, applying aversive substances (e.g. hot sauce, Bitter Apple®, Bandguard®) to an item may deter a cat from chewing it. If this is not possible, spraying strong smelling substances (e.g. citrus air freshener, potpourri) or using physical deterrents (e.g. upside down carpet runner, Ssscat®, Snappy Trainers®) around an object may prevent cats from approaching.
6.

Consult with a veterinary behaviorist - If your cat continues to ingest non-food items, referral to a veterinary behaviorist is recommended. Further environmental and behavior modification plans, specifically tailored to your pet, may be needed. In some cases, medication may be helpful.

CyberKitten
January 15th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Here is another url that is helpful:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/88960/pica_in_cats_what_to_do_when_your_cat.html

I do know it is dangerous and can affect your cat's digestive system - meant to mention that. By far, of all the ppl I have spoken to - and I talked to literally hundreds of meezer peple - getting a 2nd cat is the BEST solution.

want4rain
January 15th, 2008, 04:16 PM
i ahve to say we didnt have much luck with exhausting Hunter. if he walked past something that was somethign that looked chew-worthy, he would chew it no matter how occupied he was. never knew what it was going to be either!! a piece of wood sticking at an angle he could get his teeth around (my CAT chewed my cabinets up!!!) or a plastic toy of my sons.... Cailyns Polly Pocket clothing... string of any sort... ive seen him taste cords 'just to make sure' they tasted bad!

Hunter has always had a buddy so i dont know if that will help or not BUT since we found Frances and she plays with him all the time im noticing i dont need baths so often anymore.

*shrugs*

-ash

flusteredinfla
January 25th, 2010, 11:54 PM
I have a large male red/orange tabby who has no Siamese ancestry as far as I know, but also eats clothing and for some odd reason the straps on recycled shopping bags and at least one purse strap, too. I jokingly call him the only true omnivore, but its going beyond ridiculous...I got a handcrafted tote for Christmas and hung it up on a wall hook, and he still managed to chew off two of the ties on one side...I do have another cat, but they are both fixed, so I'm thinking that can't be an issue, or can it? I brought him home in 2006, he was already an adult and homeless, too. He did have a dog buddy but the dog and his owner moved over a year ago. He is a people kitty, but this is something I don't know how to solve...Other than moving to a larger place where I can have a dog buddy for him, is there anything else I can do? I am an artist/creative just starting a small business so a cat psychiatrist isn't in the cards....Oh, BTW, they both eat good cat food, too, so it probably isn't a food issue....

catlover2
January 26th, 2010, 07:01 AM
You're just going to have to keep all your clothes put away. As others have mentioned Siamese can be obsessive about chewing holes, especially in wool. My Devon Rex girl only likes to chew shoelaces; her half brother doesn't chew anything. Another playful cat friend would keep her more content and amused. You might want to consider getting a kitten.

shirley1011
January 26th, 2010, 07:14 AM
I had a part siamese cat years ago that also ate holes in wool blankets...vet said to give her raw meat...so I gave her raw stewing beef on a regular and she never ate the blankets again! Maybe just a lucky suggestion but hey it worked!

bendyfoot
January 26th, 2010, 07:37 AM
Onster might have some insight here, her kitty Bunduk chews everything and anything (pica, I think it's called)