If you have a cat who can’t seem to control himself when it comes to kneading, sucking and chewing on the nearest piece of cloth, or if he can’t stop washing himself in a particular spot, he may be exhibiting compulsive behavior.

Compulsive behavior is helplessly repeating the same behavior over and over again. The behavior becomes obsessive to the point of causing health problems.

Root of the problem

Compulsive behavior can occur when the cat is stressed or anxious about something. The cat could be using these behaviors to substitute for some other activity that it wants to do, but can’t. If a cat has an overwhelming desire to go outside but can’t, she may choose to chew on a blanket instead. This becomes a habit and eventually compulsive behavior.

Cat Compulsive Disorder Facts


  • Cats that regularly eat things that are not food suffer from pica.

  • Cats that bite, pull hair or lick excessively suffer from psychogenic alopecia.

  • More female cats suffer from psychogenic alopecia than males.

  • Oriental breeds of cats like the Siamese are more susceptible to compulsive disorders.

  • Indoor cats are more prone to compulsive behaviors than outdoor cats.

  • The age at which cats usually show symptoms of these compulsive problems is less than two years.

  • These compulsive behaviors can be triggered by drastic changes in the cat’s life. For example; moving, adding new family members, new pets, or major home construction.

Is it really a compulsive disorder?

There are other medical problems that can cause this type of behavior in cats in addition to compulsive disorder. For example; a cat could be having an allergic reaction to something, or have some sort of skin infection that requires constant grooming.

Also, a cat that is eating a non-food item could be suffering from some type of vitamin deficiency. Always consult your veterinarian before deciding that your cat has a compulsive disorder.

What is the cause of the problem?

If the problem is not due to medical problems, you should try to find out how it originated. There are a number of reasons this compulsive behavior may have started:


  • The animal is upset that its home has changed in a major way.

  • The cat misses someone who has passed away or is having trouble adjusting to a new member of the family.

  • If there is a new pet at home that your cat does not get along with.

  • The cat may want to be outside.

  • Lack of entertainment, exercise, and social interactions due to a strict indoor life.

  • A cat in the neighborhood that your cat can sense or see.

  • They lack attention.

These problems are quite simple. As such, the solutions are generally easy to implement.

How to deal with eating cloth?


  • Clearly, one of the easiest ways to deal with the problem is to keep items out of reach that you think the cat would like to chew on.

  • Try a high-fiber, low-calorie diet to help keep your cat full. This can keep you from wanting to chew all the time. Be sure to consult your vet before making a diet change.

  • Provide catnip or catnip greens for your cat to nibble on. This is cost effective and will please your cat immensely.

  • Provide other fabric items as acceptable substitutes for household fabrics. Make sure this is only done if the cat is not in the habit of eating the fabric, but is just chewing on it.

  • A sure way to help your cat lead a less stressful and more fulfilling life is to provide a more interactive environment. This includes playtime with you and lots of fun things to play with around the house. A great toy idea is a paper bag with a few holes the size of a quarter. Cats like to stick their arms through holes.

While the issues may not be completely curable, being proactive about combating them will go a long way toward helping you co-exist with your overly compulsive pet.

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