Fabric eating in cats
PICA is the term used for the craving
of unusual articles. In animals it is characterised by licking,
chewing or sucking foreign materials. A study in 1992 by Neville
and Bradshaw showed that of 152 cats which ate fabric, 55% were
Siamese, 28% Burmese and 11% were cross breeds. Wool was the most
favoured material followed by cotton and then synthetic materials.
Theories why they eat fabric:
I. The cat is over-dependant on the
owner eats fabric when separated from them
2. The cat is kept indoors and denied the opportunity to hunt
3. Stressful events may trigger the behaviour
4. It is caused by boredom, lack of stimulation
5. It is a compulsive disorder, similar to" those seen in
How do you treat the situation?
Sometimes denying the cat access
to the fabric for as little as a few weeks is enough to break
the cycle. Letting your cat outside to hunt can reduce or halt
the problem, this can also stop them from becoming over attached
to the owner.
However, if this does not prove successful
or is not practical, providing the cat with objects to stimulate
it may help. Chewing and sucking wool and other fabrics is a stereotypical
behaviour, which may occur from lack of stimulation and boredom.
To prevent your cat from being bored,
a playmate may help! Alternatively, hiding the food under objects
and around the house means they have to forage for food. Many
cats will also like toys and chews to occupy their time.
Soaking the fabric in products containing
menthol, eucalyptus or lanolin (e.g. hand cream) can put many
cats off eating fabric for life.
Many people believe that fabric eating
is caused by a lack of fibre in the diet. This is unlikely, however
if you do want to test this theory it is not advisable to add
bran. Bran increases the fibre content of the diet but it can
affect the absorption of other important minerals, causing deficiencies.
Try adding vegetables, cooked or raw instead.
pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health