Why does my cat bite my clothes?
Watching everything your cat does is surely one of your favorite diversions. However, there are behaviors that, rather than being funny, intrigue us to find them inexplicable, so knowing what causes them is crucial to understand 100% everything your cat wants to tell you.
What things can a cat bite and when should we worry?
As you know, cats are very curious animals, so many times that same desire to explore leads them to nibble on some things they find just to get a better perspective on what kind of object it is. If it is an occasional behavior, when the kitten discovers something new, you have nothing to worry about. However, some cats become obsessed with nibbling on certain materials , including clothing. For the most part, the cat that bites clothes begins this habit by chewing or sucking on woolen garments, but over time it spreads to other types of textile fibers.
Other cats prefer to bite different objects, such as plastics, bags, cables, cardboard, among many other materials. Some cats just bite or suck on these objects, while others swallow them; when this is the case, it is called pica syndrome .
Does your cat suffer from pica syndrome?
Knowing whether or not your cat suffers from pica syndrome is very easy. Pica is a disorder that consists of the need to ingest inedible substances. Usually, the cat is obsessed with a specific material, and it has to do with a type of nutritional deficiency , so the consumption of the chosen substance is directed, unconsciously, to try to make up for said deficiency.
If your cat is only limited to biting and sucking clothes, then it is not pica syndrome, but a behavior that can be caused by different causes that we detail below.
Reasons that lead a cat to lick clothes and bite them
The causes that prompt your cat to lick your clothes or bite them are varied, but they have not really been studied very thoroughly. It is known that there are certain chemical reactions produced by chewing and licking that generate pleasure and even tranquility in the cat, leading it to repeat the behavior. What is confirmed is that this type of behavior affects cats of any age, males and females alike; however, in most cases it occurs before 8 months of life, and may cease in a short time or, on the contrary, become a problem that the cat carries during its adulthood.
Now, the most common reasons why a cat bites clothes are the following:
It occurs in kittens that have been separated from their mother before their time . Felines, like children, need not only mother’s milk to develop fully, but also the warmth and tranquility that the act of suckling represents. That is why in cats that have been weaned prematurely, the habit of sucking on fabrics, especially if they are made of wool, is a way of emulating the sensation that the breasts gave them. This behavior can extend beyond childhood.
Nutrient deficiency or anemia
Related to pica disorder, but without becoming it because the cat does not eat the cloth, it just sucks and bites it. As with this syndrome, it is possible that the cat begins to chew your clothes because he feels that there is a lack of a nutrient or vitamin in the food that you give him.
It is a general rule: stress harms cats, and a lot. What things can cause stress in a domestic feline ? Basically those that represent a change in your routine , such as the arrival of a new member to the family, be it a baby or another pet, a drastic change in diet, a move, among other situations. Your cat may also display stress when opportunities for her natural instincts are hampered, such as when she doesn’t have a scratching post and you scold her for scratching furniture instead of providing her with a healthy outlet.
As a result of stress, the cat will look for outlets to try to calm its nerves and get some peace of mind. This can be manifested in different ways, and one of them can be biting clothes or any fabric that is within reach.
The lack of adequate stimuli is detrimental to cats. Boredom turns a cat into a destructive little feline, and drives it to behaviors that are not normal in order to distract themselves a little. This may be the reason why your cat licks or chews on clothing. This is usually more common in cats that do not have access to the outside or to toys.
It has been shown that some breeds have a biological predisposition to enjoy biting and sucking on textiles, in which case there is nothing to worry about if the kitty is limited to only these actions, and does not swallow them. These breeds are the eastern ones, such as the Siamese and the Burmese .
Some serious diseases cause unusual behaviors in cats, as a way to calm down and perhaps distract from pain or discomfort that they may be suffering, as in the case of cancer, or as a result of behavioral changes due to neurological disorders. Check out the 10 most common signs of pain in cats and find out if your cat has a health problem.
How to prevent the cat from biting your clothes?
If your kitty chews clothes only from time to time, there is no problem; however, when it becomes a recurring and even obsessive behavior, it is time to take action on the matter. The first step is to detect the cause that leads the cat to lick clothes or bite them, only then can you choose the way to solve it. In principle, it will be necessary to rule out if it is a disease, so you should consult a veterinarian for it.
If it is not a health problem, it is time to detect the cause in the environment. In kittens, weaning should take place after 12 weeks, never before. If it is an orphan feline, it will be necessary to look for alternatives to avoid this behavior in the future.
Review the diet you feed your cat to find out if there are any nutritional deficiencies. Remember to vary the dry food with the wet one, and add raw or semi-cooked food sporadically to complement the menu. If necessary, change the feed to a better quality one or add vitamin supplements, this with the recommendation of a veterinarian.
Never punish him when you catch him chewing on clothes. The best thing is to remove all the clothes from his reach, tell him no and put the piece away when you find him biting one. Replace it with a toy for cats, and enrich the environment with different accessories intended for their fun, bought or made at home, as well as play time shared with you.
Some cats may require medication with drugs similar to those prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. This, of course, if so recommended by the vet. In these cases, do not rule out the possibility of also using natural therapies, such as homeopathy, as long as the specialist so advises.