CHEWING DISORDERS IN CATS
By Connie Limon
There are cats, which are universally characterized as finicky eaters, who orally obsess upon objects such as fabric, string and plastic. They can proceed to suck, chew or ingest these materials as well.
Some animal behaviorists believe kittens that are orphaned or weaned too early were never taught by their mother to stop nursing. Consequently, later in life the cat may pick up where it left off using a synthetic mother-substitute. A little chewing or sucking is absolutely normal for inquisitive kittens, however, it can be a problem when the behavior is repeated over and over again or damaging to the cat and/or household that has been thought to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The disorder can occur with any cat breed of any age, but wait; animal researchers now believe there appears to be some genetic components to these behaviors.
Some veterinary behaviorists believe that when it comes to chewing disorders, wool sucking and chewing in Oriental breeds (the Siamese and Burmese Cats) are the number one problem seen for diagnosis and treatment on the behaviorist's couch.
Kittens are much like human toddlers, therefore, many of their weird chewing or ingestive behaviors can be related to their natural desire to play and put things in their mouths for exploration purposes.
It is the adult cats that suck, chew, or eat strange things who are more likely afflicted with a compulsive disorder. Some veterinary behaviorists theorize these cats may be simply following the saying of, "if it feels good....do it!" Others theorize that the act of chewing releases endorphins in the brain that gives cats a "meow high." When these cats suck or chew, the happy-hormones are released, and consequently these cats become happy-hormone addicts.
If you are experiencing a cat with a chewing disorder, the experience is certainly a challenge. You may find yourself trying to cat-proof your entire house very much like you would do for young human toddlers. And it may seem, regardless of how good you cat-proof things, the cat still finds something "unusual or abnormal" to chew on or eat.
The most favorite kind of materials for cats seems to be "wool fabric," especially in the winter season. Fabric chewing cats like the crunch of the fabric. This is especially true of cats fed only soft foods. Behaviorists theorize that cats start this bad habit because they are bored, anxious, stressed or inadvertently rewarded for the behavior.
Tips for owners of cat chewing disorders:
Cat chewing disorders can be a serious health and medical problem. For example, imagine if your cat chewed and swallowed something such as your daughter's hair crunchy. The cat would probably require a major surgery to remove the foreign object. Eating substances that can cause intestinal blockage are the most dangerous, and can carry a high fatality rate.
- The best preventive for chewing disorders and strange appetites is to provide kittens with proper chew toys and interactive forms of exercise.
- You can teach kittens good habits by praising him or her for good chewing and healthy, desirable behaviors.
- Nutritional deficiencies are seldom the reason behind chewing and strange appetites.
Treatment might include:
- Stopping the nasty chewing habits before the cat gains a substantial appetite for them and stops being a cat with regular routines of playing, resting and grooming itself.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any kind of health problem in your cat. You should always consult with a trusted veterinarian for all health problems.
- Keeping household changes to a minimum
- Switching "good chew" objects for bad ones
- Using repellents or other deterrents around taboo areas
- As a last resort, drug therapy
- Remove wool or plastic or any other foreign objects for the cat and give them dry food, lettuce or whole baby carrots.
- Provide alternative oral stimulation in the form of rawhide soaked in chicken broth or other dog chew treats.
- Create a cat-tractive window box filled with catnip, grass and other items designed to lure your cat away from the offending items.
- Bored cats can become destructive cats. Provide plenty of places to climb, crept, leap and race, use cat activity centers and the newer interactive toys to engage kittens mind and body.
- Consult with a veterinarian at the earliest signs of a problem as treatment is always easiest in the early stages of any kind of problem.
Source: The Winn Feline Foundation Online
About The Author: Connie Limon. I raise the beautiful, emerald green-eyed shaded and chinchilla silver Persian cat from champion and grand champion lines. For more information about us and to be added to our contact list, please visit http://www.fairydewsilverpersian.vpweb.com or http://www.fairydewpersiancats.com
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