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OCD, Wool suckling, wood eating, oh my!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Greetings everyone. Not sure where to turn, as our vet has been limited help, but, here we go.

My fiancée and I have two cats, Audrey and Gilbert. Both are about three and a half years old. We adopted them about six months apart (Audrey first, then Gil). And, well, here we go.

When we adopted Gil, we knew he was a wool suckler, except he's not the traditional case. He has his 'drool rags' that he uses, and that's fine; no problems if it stopped there.

Gil also has (as far as we can tell), the kitty form of OCD. He eats a number of things he shouldn't, most notably wood. He also eats things like fleece (we discovered this after he at a meter long piece of fleece on a kitty toy, which he passed through just fine). His most infamous eating was a piece of foam yoga mat, which was removed from him six months later and costing us quite a bit.

Now, Gil loves attention (side note: doesn't seem to like it 100% when we play with Audrey; he some times runs after and chances her after this). He also loves food. We started leaving a bowl of food down and night, which has helped a lot to sleep through the night (I am a very light sleeper). But, Gil's thing is that he will chew on the corners of our night stand to get attention.

We can't kick him out of the bedroom for two reasons: one, he meows under the door and projects his voice into our bedroom, making matters much louder, and two, he chews on the bottom of the door (there is about a two, three inch gap between the door and floor). We have also tried locking him in the bathroom to deal with the problem, but then he just chews on the metal door stopper (which probably contains lead paint, or traces of).

Oh, and he also loves cardboard, and will rip through boxes like no bodies business. He just rips off small pieces from the box, spits them out, and then goes back for more. This we feel is the least damaging thing he can do, but we aren't sure if we are encouraging him.

Finally, as icing on the cake, despite him really enjoying his scratching pad, he tends to like the carpet and the futon more.

So, we've tried just about everything under the sun to get him to stop any one of these behaviours. Loud noises, water bottles (which turned into a game), Feliway, attempting to wear him out, bitter spray.

This has been steadily getting worse in the two and a half years we've had Gil, so, not quite sure what to do or how to handle this anymore. I've been up at four am the last two days, and it's beginning to take it's toll on me.

He is a very sweet, loving cat. But he is also a pain and really making things tough for us as we have no idea what is the correct way to respond to him any more (after reading so many sites, including Cornell's feline OCD article).


post #2 of 8
Hi and welcome! It sounds like he has more of a oral obsession then anything! This is not an easy thing to correct, especially if it has been growing for years. How old were they when you adopted them? It may take as much obsessive watching him to try and break the behavior. When it comes to extreme behavioral disorder patterns, all of the suggested water, tape, so on.....just aggravates the stigma and turns the focus on something else. I would consider a behavioral therapist/vet, some way to find the cause of the effect..............
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
We adopted Gil when he was a year and a half when we adopted him, so, most of his behaviours would have been on their way to what they have developed into.

We have talked to our vet (our vet's office has three vets, and we've spoken to each of them). They don't want to give him Prozac or other drugs because he is so young, but, yeah.

As for obsessive watching, that's the problem. I work from home and I do watch him, but there is only so much I can do, and know how to do properly. To be quite frank, this cycle has turned into a game, and he runs off when I come to pick him up and stop him.

So, it's more, how do I do off the game/attention getting aspect of this relationship?
post #4 of 8

Welcome to TCS.

For what it's worth, to me this actually sounds more like it might be Pica than OCD. That doesn't change the fact that this is problematic behavior for both you and Gil, but it might change the way that the issue gets resolved. Did the vet happen to mention Pica at all?

I don't have any first-hand experience with Pica so unfortunately I really don't have any concrete advice to give you. I do know that there are lots of articles that turn up on a Google search, so perhaps you might want to read some of them. And collectively, the members of TCS seem to have experienced pretty much everything under the sun when it comes to their kitties, so hopefully knowledgeable members will come along and help you and Gil work to modify the behavior.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Now that I read about Pica, it does sound a little familiar. Thanks for the thought there.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but the major obsticle here is that Gil only responds to things for so long...at the most a month, then goes right back to his old ways. So, it's constantly trying to figure out when he is going to stop responding to one treatment and then thinking up a new one to stop him.

The other problem is that he chews on furniture, hardly something that is easy to hide/put away. I think I might have to invest in some double sided tape, and see where that gets us, but, again, thanks for the advice!
post #6 of 8
I was just reading this very touching story about the death of her dog
so I got out Dr. Overall’s book to see if there might be something in it that could be helpful to you. There is. So, if you wouldn’t mind buying the book, you could look over her suggestions, explanations and the treatment options she lists and then perhaps talk to a professional about them.
There is one thing (providing such cats with rawhide bones) you could even try on your own. You'll find the details about that too in the book.
The book is: Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals by Karen L. Overall (veterinary behaviorist).

I really hope you can find the help you need for your kitty. You have my best wishes.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Violet -

Thanks for the reply. I completely forgot (until you mentioned it), but yes, we did try rawhide bones, and Gil completely ignored it (as you can see, we've tried a lot of things). I might have to see if I can find Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals at the library. Thanks!
post #8 of 8
Has he had his mouth checked recently?? He could have something really bothering him in there causing him the problem!! Sore tooth maybe, absess, ect. The scratching thing Im pretty sure is normal cat behavior though... All my cats do that, and every cat I ever had did that. They didn't like the scratching post either.

After a month or so of the punishiment do you start to let down your gaurd a little bit?? That would probably something I would do that could create problems!

If all else fails, go to a different vet for different advice!
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