Cats and obsessive-compulsive disorder
Oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Birman cats, are more prone to wool-sucking. Though there appears to be a genetic susceptibility for the behavior, we hypothesized that the expression of wool-sucking was associated with either physical characteristics (head shape in Siamese, coat color, claw status), an abnormally intense appetite, medical problems and/or environmental factors (weaning age; litter size; obtainment source; number of cats in the environment; residence in a home or cattery; and use as a breeder, show cat, or pet.) The purpose of our study was to distinguish environmental and physical differences between affected and control cats and to determine whether these differences impacted the expression of the compulsive behavior. Two hundred and four Siamese and Birman cats were enrolled in the study. Owners of the cats were surveyed regarding signalment, physical characteristics, current and previous medical conditions, presence of an abnormally intense appetite, and environmental factors. Early weaning and small litter size were associated with an increased risk of wool-sucking in Birmans, only. The presence of a medical condition was associated with an increased risk of wool-sucking in Siamese cats. The presence of an abnormally intense appetite was seen in all affected cats. No relationship was seen between physical characteristics and wool-sucking in Siamese or Birman cats.