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Siamese cats eating wool – What should I do?

If you have a Siamese cat, you know how playful these kitties can be. They love all toys–whether they be feather teasers or wool mice. Yet, occasionally, your cat may destroy their toys. In these cases, it’s important to make sure your Siamese cat doesn’t swallow any of the materials, such as wool.

Of course, there are other ways a Siamese cat can ingest wool. If you knit or crochet, your fun-loving fur baby may be obsessed with your yarn. Siamese cats are also more prone to licking, chewing, and even eating plastics, string, and other non-food items. 

Siamese cats can develop behavioral problems such as pica, where they eat wool. Eating wool puts a cat at a high risk of forming an intestinal blockage. So, it is important to prevent this behavior before it gets out of control.

So, let’s take a look at why some Siamese cats eat wool and what effects this behavior can have on their health. 

Dangers of Siamese Cats Eating Wool

Siamese cats, in particular, are fascinated by nonfood items. Bits of plastic lying on the ground, threads, cords, cardboard, and yarn can be irresistible to your kitty. However, these items can be dangerous. If your cat chews on these, they run the risk of getting hurt.

The most common problem associated with eating nonfood items is the possibility of an intestinal blockage. Essentially, the cat gets the foreign object stuck in their digestive tract. The foreign object causes them discomfort and issues.

Intestinal Blockages

A cat with an intestinal blockage may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulties defecating
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in behavior

Intestinal blockages occur in three different ways. 

First, it could be a partial obstruction. When a small toy or object gets into the digestive tract, there are fewer symptoms, and these cases can be treated with IV fluids and some medications to help the object pass.

The next type of intestinal blockage is a linear obstruction. This is usually in the case of an ingested string. 

With wool, if it is in the form of yarn, the string can get wrapped around in the intestines and even emerge through the anus as the cat tries to pass it. This happened to one of my cats once. It was terrifying, and my instinct was to try to remove the string by gently tugging.

If you ever see a string dangling out of your cat’s anus, please do not tug at it. Not only is this painful for your cat, but it can also damage the intestines. The string is only partially visible on the outside. Inside, it may be tangled around the intestinal tract, and a tug could rip parts of your cat’s innards. 

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An ingested piece of yarn runs the risk of causing perforations in your cat’s digestive tract even if you don’t see it emerging. This type of intestinal blockage is serious and can be life-threatening. Inflammation and infection can occur, so seek immediate veterinary assistance. 

Finally, if your cat has swallowed several objects or a very large object the symptoms present very quickly and need immediate attention. This is called complete obstruction.

Expensive surgery is usually the solution to intestinal blockages.

It is always best to seek out a vet when you suspect or have evidence of a cat ingesting foreign objects. Your vet will best know how to handle the situation and protect your cat from internal damage. 

Pica

Pica refers to the consumption of non-food items as a behavior issue. It is also sometimes referred to as “wool eating.” Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese, and Orientals are more likely to exhibit this behavior. Some scientists have suggested there may be a genetic component to explain why these breeds suffer from pica more often than other breeds.

Cats with pica consume a large number of nonfood items. Many are synthetic materials such as

  • Rubber
  • Leather
  • Plastic
  • Cellophane
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Wool

This behavior can begin in kittenhood. Some kittens eat their bedding as early as 3 months old. Many kittens outgrow these behaviors, but others keep suffering from pica into adulthood. 

A cat with pica will not simply chew on a material, they will put it between their back molars and grind it. This behavior releases feel-good chemicals in their brains that lead to addiction. Cats with pica will not just chew these items but swallow them, which can lead to serious complications.

If you notice your cat exhibiting the characteristics of pica, be extra vigilant about the materials you have lying around. You may also need to seek out a behavioral specialist for severe cases.

Preventing Siamese Cats from Eating Wool

For Siamese cats with a love of eating wool, you may have to restrict their lifestyle. This will help to eliminate the sources of their nonfood chewing and eating. 

Indoor Living

Cats with pica should be restricted to indoor living. This will narrow their likelihood of encountering and ingesting foreign objects. 

However, remember that Siamese cats are dog-like and need lots of mental attention, so if they are restricted indoors, make sure to give them plenty of playtime and mental stimulation. 

Alternatively, you could allow your Siamese cat out onto a secured garden or enclosed porch to get some exercise, while also closely monitoring their behaviors. 

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Different toys

You may have to change the types of toys you allow your Siamese cat to play with. If they are breaking apart and eating wool toys, you may want to exchange those for some moving toys that are hard to hold onto and chew. There are lots of automatic toys on the market that can entertain your cat.

Also, you may have to buy cat toys made with a less desirable material to help keep your kitty from gnawing on them. You may even have to lock up certain home items or toys when they are not in use to keep your Siamese cat from munching on them. 

Use Bitter Oils

You can apply Bitter Apple, a substance used to deter chewing on surgical stitches, in small quantities to deter your cat from chewing on certain objects. You will need to apply a thin coat and reapply it after a few days. The bitter taste should make your cat turn up their nose at eating the coated wool, but some cats are persistent no matter what. 

Seek Behavior Help

If you’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to fix the problem, you may need to seek out a behavior specialist. This person can come to your home, assess the situation, and give you tips to manage this difficult behavior. 

Your vet may also need to prescribe your Siamese cat antidepressants in conjunction with behavior therapy to help your cat overcome their addiction.

What should I do if my cat has swallowed wool?

If you suspect your Siamese cat has swallowed wool or any other nonfood item, it is important to get your cat checked out by a vet. Smaller objects may pass naturally, but larger objects or ones that are string-like can cause serious problems for your cat. 

A vet can do X-rays or ultrasounds to check for obstructions. Then, they will give you a course of action to treat the intestinal blockage. Oftentimes, vets need to perform surgery to remove the obstruction.

Conclusion

Siamese cats are more prone to developing pica than other breeds. As such, it is important to keep desirable nonfood items away from your cat. If you notice them chewing on wool, take it from them immediately and check for signs of consumption.

If you believe your cat has ingested wool or any other foreign object, monitor them for symptoms and seek out veterinary attention as soon as possible. 

Cats who have pica may be addicted to chewing on these materials, so you may need to seek out a behavioral specialist if the issue persists.