Just like humans, cats are prone to compulsive disorders borne from anxiety, fear or excess stress. Compulsive means a repetitive and irresistible urge to do something. Here is what pet parents need to know about this condition:
Signs of Compulsive Disorder in Cats
Cats with compulsive disorder will exhibit strange behaviors like nursing on fabric, excessive licking, yowling, plucking easily accessible hair (psychogenic alopecia) or rubbing a patch of skin raw on furniture. Sometimes the urge to perform these behaviors is so strong that it gets in the way of the cats normal life and make other relationships (humans and other pets) strained.
Causes of Compulsive Disorders
In general, compulsive behaviors develop in response to stress and frustration in sensitive cats. Cats who live in busy households with many other animals or children and cats that are confined to strictly indoor living are most at risk.
The trigger is thought to happen when a cat is blocked from doing something and becomes frustrated. To relieve the frustration the cat then does something else. If the stressful situation repeats itself a cycle of displacement behavior ensues which can then potentially cause these behaviors to occur even in times of low stress.
Major disturbances in a cats normal life like moving home, home improvement work, new pets or children should be carefully managed as these are significant causes of stress in cats.
Treatment for Feline Compulsive Behavior
If your cat is exhibiting compulsive behavior it is first critical that your veterinarian rules out any other medical conditions. Excessive licking could be the result of pain for example.
Once illness has been ruled out, the course of treatment generally involves identifying and removing the environmental stimuli that trigger the obsessive behavior.
Quality of Life for the Compulsive Cat
Although compulsive behaviors often cannot be completely eradicated they can be managed and reduced. Work with your veterinarian to track progress and also consider speaking with a behavior specialist.
We have a number of articles for helping to manage specific causes of stress and improve quality of life :
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