Q: My cat loves to suck on my wool sweaters, and it’s ruining them. Not to mention it can’t be good for her. Why does she do this, and how can I get her to stop?
A: This condition, unimaginatively called wool-sucking, isn’t all that unusual in cats, although Siamese and other Oriental breeds seem to be especially fond of doing it.
The behavior is a misdirected attempt at nursing that may occur in cats who were weaned too early or who are responding to stress.
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The easiest way to stop her is to keep your sweaters where she can’t get to them.
If you do catch her sucking on one (or any other wool or acrylic item), distract her with an unusual sound. When she looks up, remove the item and focus her attention on something else.
Reward her with praise and a treat every time you see her sucking on a toy or some other acceptable item. This may help her to kick the habit.
Some experts believe that adding a little fiber to the cat’s diet may help. It can’t hurt to add a couple of teaspoons of plain canned pumpkin (no sugar or spices) to her meals.
Be concerned if your cat is actually ingesting wool, because this can cause an intestinal obstruction.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com.