What is wool sucking? Your cat might be a wool sucker if:

*You find moist, slightly bad-smelling spots on carpets and furnishings.
*Your cat appears to nurse or lick soft objects.
*Your cat nibbles on your hair, ears, or clothing a lot.
*Your cat looks like he’s “massaging” a pillow, blanket, or other pet.
*You find soft, “missing” things such as stuffed animals or scarves stockpiled in a closet or under a bed.

Wool sucking is the habit some cats develop as a self-comforting technique. Like a human child sucking his thumb, a young cat may find stress relief and feel safer while sucking on an object that’s like his cat mother’s belly (hence the kneading, which nursing kittens do to increase milk letdown).

Though some theorize that kittens taken away from their mothers too young turn to wool sucking, it may also include cats that are simply more introverted and insecure by nature. Oriental breeds, such as Siamese, tend towards wool sucking more than other breeds.

Cats in a stressful environment, or who are bored may pick up wool sucking. In case of the latter, a pet sitter can help break up kitty’s dull day with a mid-day visit.

Some kitties outgrow it, but others keep on suckling. It may seem strange to see a 12-pound cat sitting around “nursing” a throw pillow; however, there’s no real harm in cats wool sucking. As long as he doesn’t eat pieces of things he sucks or suckle his own paws or tail, the habit is harmless.

For some felines, a cat pacifier offers the suckling he wants. If you’re tired of finding spit-soaked towels or not finding items kitty has dragged away, the Catsifier, a cat pacifier sewn onto a faux fur pillow, may offer all the comfort he needs. Other cat binkies have lamb’s wool around the faux nipple.

Though finding kitty spit here and there is a pain, stay patient with your cat. Try to remove things that tempt him to wool suck and offer more cuddle time to fill his need for snuggling.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant