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Compulsive wool-sucking in Siamese and Birman cats

Borns-Weil, Emmanuel C, Dodman N, et al. A case control study of compulsive wool-sucking in Siamese and Birman cats (n=204). J Vet Behav: Clin Appl and Res. 2015 Nov-Dec; 10(6): 543-548.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans and compulsive behavior in animals are characterized by repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, which interfere with normal activities and functioning. Specifically, in domestic animals, compulsive behaviors such as wool-sucking are exaggerations of natural behaviors such as grooming, eating, or suckling. Wool-sucking is a stereotypic, oral compulsion that manifests in cats as the chewing, sucking, or ingesting of nonfood items such as wool or plastic. Oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Birman cats, are more prone to wool-sucking.

The purpose of this study was to distinguish environmental and physical differences between affected and control cats and to determine whether these differences impacted the expression of the compulsive behavior. Two hundred and four Siamese and Birman cats were enrolled in the study. Owners of the cats were surveyed regarding signalment, physical characteristics, current and previous medical conditions, presence of an abnormally intense appetite, and environmental factors.

Early weaning and small litter size were associated with an increased risk of wool-sucking in Birmans, only. The presence of a medical condition was associated with an increased risk of wool-sucking in Siamese cats. The presence of an abnormally intense appetite was seen in all affected cats. No relationship was seen between physical characteristics and wool-sucking in Siamese or Birman cats.  (MK)

See also:
Lepczyk CA, Lohr CA, Duffy DC. A review of cat behavior in relation to disease risk and management options. Appl Animal Behave Sci. 2015 Dec; 173:29-39.