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OCD in Cats

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

My cat Julia is just over a year old and has been diagnosed with OCD by her vet.

She is constantly chewing wooden furniture that is around the house, and has various other compulsive tendencies. The vet ruled out health problems and pica, and said that she has kitty obsessive compulsive disorder. I have tried rubbing the wood with various things (something bitter, spicy, citrusy, Listeriney) but it only works to a certain extent. So far, we have had the best luck with Listerine, but it evaporates quickly, and once the smell is gone Julia is back at it. Also, when the bed frame or the dresser (her two favorite chew toys) are stinky, she just goes and chews on the table. I can only use so much Listerine.
Aside from the chewing, she seems anxious a lot of the time. When we lock her out of the bedroom she sits outside of the door and meows incessantly until we let her in. And then she goes straight under the bed and chews on the bed frame.
I can continue to try to stop her from chewing my furniture, but it's obvious that the problems go beyond that. If she is so anxious that she needs to be constantly chewing on something, then my worry is more with her quality of life than the quality of my furniture. What do I do?
post #2 of 2
When the vet checked her, they checked her teeth? I know she's young to have problems, but our Spooky has REALLY bad teeth. She didn't express the problem by chewing on things, but when we brush her or brush her teeth (which we started after finding out she has problems), she'll push into it so hard she'll make her gums bleed. She's seven now, and has already had 4 (or 6? Sorry, I'm not sure) teeth pulled already.

If you're positive her teeth are ok (not genetically prone to plaque build up), why not get her wood to chew on? Given she's chewing the furniture, why not just get stuff that IS ok for her to chew on?

Cats learn by re-direction and positive reinforcement - but an important part of that is not having whatever they shouldn't be doing available to them. Like when cats are scratching on couches, best to get them covered up while "re-directing" them to scratching pads and posts. I'd think the same thing applied here. If you're willing to, wrap the exposed wood she chews on with aluminum foil for a month or six weeks. In the meantime, get wood (from some lumber supply place so you're sure there are no bugs) of varying thickness and density - and put those out for her to chew on. Tell her WHAT a good girl she is - when she's chewing on the right stuff. Like people with kitties scratching that's a problem, maybe make her some wood posts that are OK for her to chew!

Giving her an alternative might help.

And meowing outside a door is very standard for many cats. We let ours sleep with us, so it's not a problem. But unless you get into a routine - hours when bedroom access is OK and hours when it is not - it can be very confusing for them. As you get that routine set, basically you just have to get ear plugs.

If she seems anxious, there are a number of things you can try. I would definitely invest in Feliway (a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks. In fact - if you don't want to wrap your furniture legs, you can try spraying the Feliway on it every 2 - 3 days). I'd also give Bach's Rescue Remedy (flower essences) a try. They're available at most health food stores or here: http://www.catfaeries.com

The flower essences don't work for all cats, but when they do work, they work.

I'd also give her lots of attention and play. Play really helps reduce stress in kitties.

The other thing to consider, though it's never any guarantee - is getting her a playmate.

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