Can my cat get obsessive compulsive disorder?

Cats can actually get OCD, as weird as it sounds. Nobody's really sure if it's the exact same thing as in humans, because we can't talk to them and ask - but they definitely can start doing strange, repetitive behaviors that have no other explanation. This can involve excessive licking, repeatedly biting their tails, and sucking or chewing on their fur. It is thought this might be caused by a form of cat stress - your cat can get anxiety attacks and feel a wide range of emotions, just like people can. Sometimes the cat will act out towards something else, particularly fabrics. They may frequently suck on or chew on sheets or other fabrics in the house. This kind of behavior is most common in "Oriental" cats - Siamese cats, Burmese cats, etc.


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There are a number of treatment options. First, you can try getting your cat something to do to distract it. Play with the cat more often, and if there's an obvious cause of anxiety (new pets, new baby, etc.) giving the cat attention may reduce this. Second, you can try drug therapy. Many human anti-anxiety drugs are used on pets as well. There's not as much data on their effectiveness, but it doesn't hurt them and can help dramatically in some cases.

One big thing to remember is that punishing your cat will probably not help. This kind of behavior is caused by stress and anxiety - and yelling at the cat will only add to that. This is not a training problem, it's a mental health issue, so deal with it that way.

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