Compulsive behavior in cats

Compulsive Behavior in Cats

The word �compulsive� describes the repetitive, irresistible urge to perform a behavior. Most compulsive behaviors are normal activities, such as eating, grooming, moving around or sexual behaviors, but they occur in the wrong contexts and to such an extent that they interfere with normal functioning.

The most common compulsive behaviors in cats are wool sucking or fabric eating (a form of pica) and excessive licking, hair chewing or hair pulling (called psychogenic alopecia). When performed compulsively, these behaviors can be harmful to a cat. Cats who eat fabric can suffer intestinal obstruction, and cats who over-groom can develop skin wounds. Sometimes a cat becomes so compelled to engage in a compulsive behavior that it interferes with her ability to lead a normal life and impairs her relationship with her pet parent.

What Causes Compulsive Disorders?

Compulsive behaviors often develop when a sensitive cat is frustrated or stressed. Initially, the cat performs a displacement behavior. She wants to do one thing but she can�t, so she gets frustrated and does something else. For example, when a cat sees another cat outside the window, she might want to attack�but she can�t get out, so she performs a seemingly irrelevant behavior instead, like licking herself.

If stressful situations like this happen repeatedly, the cat may continue to engage in the displacement behavior. At first, she�ll do it only in stressful situations, but she may eventually do it even when there�s nothing frustrating going on. At this stage, the behavior has become repetitive and compulsive.

While it�s not been confirmed, some experts believe that kittens who were weaned too early might be susceptible to developing compulsive disorder later in life.

For complete article and credits click here: