Wool sucking: feline obsessive-compulsive disorder


We all love cuddling our balls of fur, giving them warm hugs, showing how much we care for them. But imagine if they start chewing our sweaters while we are expressing our love…well, a bit inconvenient. This strange behavior when they chew on sweaters, towels, blankets or even carpets is commonly called wool sucking… here’s more info about the same.

Cravings to chew…

  • The causes of this behavior are not well understood, but it is mostly seen in oriental breeds (Siamese and Burmese cats).
  • Some kittens are weaned early resulting in suckling deprivation and such cats when grow up mostly exhibit this habit.
  • It has also found that odor of lanolin in wool is similar to the odor of the fur around the nipples of the kitten’s mother, which contributes to this inappropriate behaviour.
  • Anxiety and stress also contributes to this behaviour to some extent.

Remediation…a better solution

  • The best solution is to keep ‘Chews’ out of reach, keep sweaters etc in closet or at a place, where kitties cannot reach…to chew on.
  • If there’s a favourite spot to chew on…spray it with a bitter spray or apply anxious-tasting substances such as cologne, pepper sauce or a commercial repellant to these objects…once bitten twice shy…this will work wonders.
  • Leave kittens with mother for at least twelve weeks.
  • Provide other things for the cat to chew on, such as a sock with a ball in it or a cat toy.
  • Keep a vigil on your cat and if found sucking, immediately use trusty water pistol to shoo her way.
  • Consult your veterinarian for a solution and medication…if required.


In some cats, the sucking begins with wool, but then progresses to other available materials such as cotton or even plastic. The behaviour most often begins at puberty; if it is not cured at the initial stages, sometimes it might prove fatal, as they may swallow non-food items, such as plastic or fabric, which could lead to an intestinal obstruction or serious digestive illness. It is therefore essential to get rid of the habit at its earliest.

(Dr. Deepa Katyal, MVSC (Mumbai), MVSt (Australia) is a veterinary practitioner at Chembur, Mumbai. She is CEO of K-9 Klub for dog lovers. She can be contacted at 9819742557.)