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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys. Sorry my presence here has been so sporadic lately. I had a few weeks of insane work hours, and then spontaneously lost my job a few weeks ago, so my life's been kind of a roller-coaster lately.

Anyway, that's not what this is about. Within the past few weeks, Athena has developed a habit of eating tissues. Obviously this concerns me as I'm worried she might end up with a blockage or something. I keep finding them torn up all over the condo, in her stools in the litterbox, and under the bed in stashes. I have no idea what started this.

I've been doing a lot of online reading, and I am wondering if this is similar to wool-sucking? We believe Athena was separated from her mother at a very young age (the shelter told us she had to be syringe-fed and was very sick when they first found her). She often displays kneading and suckling/licking behavior towards us in the mornings when she's hungry. She also has an affinity for socks, and some other cloth items.

I initially tried scolding her (saying "No" and taking them away) when I'd find her with a tissue, but it hasn't worked (now she just grabs them when I'm not looking) and in my reading I'm learning that may even make the problem worse (which I feel awful about of course) since the behavior is some type of stress-relief compulsion?

My latest strategy has just been to try avoiding giving her any access to tissues or other paper items she might eat. This has been tricky, as she pulls tissues directly from the box if she can't get them out of the trash. We've been trying to keep all trash cans without lids in the bathrooms with the doors closed, but I like having tissue boxes easily available in multiple rooms because I have seasonal allergies. It's been hard to keep track and make sure they're all hidden and that no stray tissues are grabbed when I'm not looking.

Has anyone else had experience with this sort of thing? Is there something else that's safe that I can offer her to lick and chew on and suck on that might give her the same satisfaction and hopefully distract her from the tissues? She has ample toys, but isn't very interested in the soft ones aside from occasional play, and the toys she does love (crinkle balls and ping pong balls) are more "chasing" toys than chewing toys. We have a small baby blanket that the shelter gave us but she's never shown much interest in it.
 

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So sorry to hear about your life/work troubles. I hope those sort out soon.

Pedro is a tissue chewer and my only way to keep him from doing it is to hide them. It's a pain for sure.

Apple loves to chew & suck on things in a comfort sort of way. She was chewing on one of my quilts so my mom made each of them their own quilt square. Just barely big enough for one of them to lay on. When Apple is feeling sooky she lays on hers with a corner of it in her mouth. Pedro thinks they are display mats for his wonderfulness. LOL Seriously though, they are just a nice thin batting with cotton fabric. Might she consider chewing on something like that?
 

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Hey Sai, so good to hear from you :)

Chikis does that too. He is obsessed with tissues and toilet paper. And he actually eats them too, as Athena.

Chikis is a wool sucker too, we found him abandoned when he was just 3 weeks! So after a long chat with the vet, she suggested this paper eating thing could be some sort of anxiety. She suggester Bach Flowers, so I have an appointment with a therapist from the same cat-only clinic.

Last week he vomited 3 times in one day, and I could see a lotta paper in his vomits. That was when I realized it was something to be concerned about.

BTW, I think I told you this before but both Athena and Apollo look a lot like Sun, my cat that passed away 8 months ago. Every time I look at your avatar picture my heart jumps. It is kind of sad...but I'm happy you have such beautiful kitties. They are gorgeous.

Hugs!!!
 

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I'm so sorry to hear about your job! You are very talented, so I'm sure someone will snatch you up soon!

As for Athena, I would give your vet a call because what you described sounds less like wool-sucking and more like pica. Pica is sometimes indicative of a dietary deficiency (lack of fiber for instance). If its not that, it could be that she has picked up on your recent stress, or sometimes pica is even genetic. I hope you can find a reason for her behavior and a way to stop it. Good luck!

Oh, and Pumpkin/Simone do the whole suckling/kneading thing too. They like fleece blankets and fuzzy rugs (my bathroom rugs specifically); maybe you could try one of those?
 

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Did this start when you're hours changed/lost your job? Could it be some sort of acting out due to stress or tension?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So sorry to hear about your life/work troubles. I hope those sort out soon.

Pedro is a tissue chewer and my only way to keep him from doing it is to hide them. It's a pain for sure.

Apple loves to chew & suck on things in a comfort sort of way. She was chewing on one of my quilts so my mom made each of them their own quilt square. Just barely big enough for one of them to lay on. When Apple is feeling sooky she lays on hers with a corner of it in her mouth. Pedro thinks they are display mats for his wonderfulness. LOL Seriously though, they are just a nice thin batting with cotton fabric. Might she consider chewing on something like that?
Possibly! She really enjoys socks. I was considering getting her a sock just for her, or some other similar fabric in the hopes that might redirect her attention.

Lenkolas said:
BTW, I think I told you this before but both Athena and Apollo look a lot like Sun, my cat that passed away 8 months ago. Every time I look at your avatar picture my heart jumps. It is kind of sad...but I'm happy you have such beautiful kitties. They are gorgeous.

Hugs!!!
I'm so sorry to hear about your Sun! I love lynx-point kitties. They definitely won my heart. They're all such beautiful cats.

I'm so sorry to hear about your job! You are very talented, so I'm sure someone will snatch you up soon!

As for Athena, I would give your vet a call because what you described sounds less like wool-sucking and more like pica. Pica is sometimes indicative of a dietary deficiency (lack of fiber for instance). If its not that, it could be that she has picked up on your recent stress, or sometimes pica is even genetic. I hope you can find a reason for her behavior and a way to stop it. Good luck!

Oh, and Pumpkin/Simone do the whole suckling/kneading thing too. They like fleece blankets and fuzzy rugs (my bathroom rugs specifically); maybe you could try one of those?
Thanks Swimkris. I was sort of prepared for it anyway, as the company was not doing well (thus the crazy hours. we were working hard to try to keep it afloat). I actually already have a 3-month freelance contract lined up, as well as another possible project for my former boss (he'd told me when I was laid off that if he could get any more projects going, he'd want to hire me for contract work) so it does seem like I have some prospects at least! I think I'm going to use this opportunity to try to transition to full-time freelance. I've always wanted to be a children's book illustrator (which is all freelance work) and this seems like as good a time as any to try that.

I was reading about pica and I was wondering if that might be it, but it would just baffle me if she had a nutritional deficiency. She's fed a wide variety of very nutrient-rich foods, and has been on this diet for about a year. The tissue eating just started a few weeks ago. I will definitely talk to my vet about this though. Athena actually has her 1-year appointment/vaccination boosters coming up next month. Do you think I should try to get her in sooner, or would it be alright to wait until then? I wasn't sure if it'd be okay to do her vaccinations so early (she's technically due at the end of Aug/beginning of Sept) and I'd ideally rather just bring her in for all of the above at the same time. I have also been reading that pica is very common in oriental breeds, and of course she's a siamese mix.

I've also been reading that another theory is it's displaced hunting behavior? Especially since siamese are so active. Could she be trying to simulate ripping fur and feathers off of things? I know Apollo did this to a felt toy he had as a kitten (I had to toss it eventually because he'd shredded it and was eating the felt), and they both pull feathers off of toys.

I have a few fleece toys my mom made for them out of leftover fabric and they show no interest in those unfortunately.

Did this start when you're hours changed/lost your job? Could it be some sort of acting out due to stress or tension?
Y'know I think it may have. I can't remember exactly but it seems like it might have coincided with when my life started getting more stressful. Perhaps she's picking up on that. :(

Aside from the obvious (working on my own stress) how else could I help her feel less stressed? Perhaps more rigorous play sessions or something? I recently got her DaBird and she is obsessed with that toy. I've been trying to play with her using it a bit every day and she always sits and licks/chews that for a little while after those play sessions. It seems to do a good job of distracting her.
 

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As long as you can keep her from eating too many tissues/paper, and she doesn't get "stopped up" from eating them, I would think it's okay to wait till her scheduled appointment. Pica's a weird behavior, I don't think anyone ever knows for sure why animals/people pick up the behavior. It could be something as simple as she licked a tissue one day and decided that she loved the texture, or much more complicated as the other reasons I listed before. Sometimes boredom is even the cause. I do think that "nutritional deficiency" might have been the wrong wording (since I think you have her on a balanced raw diet?), but it could be that she is getting some kind of fiber from the paper. Have you tried offering some grass to her (just an idea, not sure if it would work)? As for stress, I think you are on the right track with extra play time and maybe extra snuggles when you have time to spare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yup, she's on a combo of raw with some rotating canned in the mornings. Would grain-free/low-carb raw and canned be low on fiber? I try to keep her in a low-carb grain-free diet since she has digestive sensitivities, but I hope that's not limiting her fiber consumption on the flip side.

I've used cat grass before and she seemed to sort of enjoy that (I'm not sure how much she chewed on it). I'll pick up another pot of that next week and see if that helps.
 

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For fiber you could give her a little pumpkin. I've heard it helps cats with fiber issues. Finnick LOVES anything made out of paper (especially paper towels). Thus far, he doesn't eat it, but I watch him carefully. He's only allowed to have it under supervision (mostly because he strews it across the living room).

It's possible that she's just picking up on your stress-levels and taking it out on "her prey," especially since you do feed her such a high-quality diet.
 

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Yup, she's on a combo of raw with some rotating canned in the mornings. Would grain-free/low-carb raw and canned be low on fiber? I try to keep her in a low-carb grain-free diet since she has digestive sensitivities, but I hope that's not limiting her fiber consumption on the flip side.

I've used cat grass before and she seemed to sort of enjoy that (I'm not sure how much she chewed on it). I'll pick up another pot of that next week and see if that helps.
Fiber is cellulose, aka the molecule that gives plants there structural shape- so, yes, a grain free diet would not include fiber. Just try out some cat grass or tiny bit of pumpkin like Braxen suggested; it may not be the solution, but it won't hurt to try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok thanks guys. Will give those a try! Hopefully she can handle a little bit of grass/pumpkin without stomach issues. There are some veggies in her raw blend (Primal) but it's one of the lower-carb ones, so there are not a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I finally had a chance to pick up a pot of cat grass and cat nip today!

Athena has no interest in the cat nip (she's never cared about the dried stuff in toys either) although Apollo is enjoying it.

However the grass was a big hit! She chowed down on it immediately. Hopefully this will solve the problem. Whether she was lacking fiber or just wanted something to chew on, she seems to be enjoying this new alternative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Super delayed update on this issue. It's been a busy few weeks. We finally got in to the vet today and her vet thinks it's a texture fixation.

The cat grass was limited in its success. We finally got covered cans for all our rooms so she can't get tissues out of the trash anymore. I've had to remove some of her toys as she's now chewing pieces of fabric off anything that is fuzzy, or anything with feathers.

The vet suggested trying a kong with something tasty spread on it, or various cat-safe chew treats. She mentioned CET chews but I was iffy on the ingredients.

Of course if this is a texture fixation, I assume what she'd really like is something fuzzy to chew on. Are there any safe, durable fuzzy toys you guys know of that I could offer her? Everything she seems to enjoy, she ends up eating.

She loooved this: KONG Swizzle Bird Teaser - Cat - Sale Category - PetSmart but pulled all the feathers out and when I removed the feathers she just sat there gnawing on the end of the toy until she actually severed it...and swallowed that.

She has a bird that she really liked. Can't find it online but its wings and tail were made of the same stuff as the tails on these mice: KONG Kickeroo Mouse Catnip Cat Toy at PETCO and she chewed off the wings and tail.

So that's what she enjoys...any ideas on what might be similar to that stuff but less likely to be ripped up and eaten?
 

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Does she like felt? Try getting some long scrap pieces (like 6-10") from a fabric store (the kind you make those knotted blankets out of), and tie them all together into a ball. My cats are fixated on some soft things (they only nurse- no eating), and they really like their felt ball & blankets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Does she like felt? Try getting some long scrap pieces (like 6-10") from a fabric store (the kind you make those knotted blankets out of), and tie them all together into a ball. My cats are fixated on some soft things (they only nurse- no eating), and they really like their felt ball & blankets.
Apollo used to have a felt mouse but ripped it apart and started eating it, so I haven't bought any since. I'd be worried she'd do the same.
 
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