Behavior

Clinical trials for the Behavior specialty

  • Description

    “Wool sucking” is a behavioral condition that involves the repetitive searching, suckling, chewing and ingestion of non-food items. While items made of wool can be the preferred substrate, cats may also seek out and chew items made of cotton, rubber, nylon, paper, cardboard and plastic. A negative consequence of this behavior is breakdown of the human-animal bond due to owners’ frustration with property damage. In its most severe form, the cat cannot be maintained safely as an indoor cat. While wool sucking behavior can occur in any cat breed, the incidence is higher in oriental breeds, suggesting a genetic susceptibility. To identify potential genetic components of the compulsive “wool sucking” behavior in cats, DNA samples will be collected via saliva from normal and affected Siamese and Birman cats. An at-home DNA sampling kit and survey will be mailed to owners; no veterinary visit is required. Since “wool sucking” is an excellent animal model of human obsessive-compulsive behaviors, the identification of a genetic cause could lead to development of carrier testing, as well as better treatment options for both cats and humans with these disorders.

    If you own a purebred Birman or Siamese and are interested in participating, please contact Jami Longo at: jami.longo@tufts.edu

    Inclusion Criteria

    Purebred Siamese and Birman cats (both normal cats and those who exhibit wool sucking behavior)

    Exclusion Criteria

    Cats who do not exhibit wool sucking behavior must be greater than one year old.

    Client Benefits

    Owners of affected cats will receive a written treatment protocol.

    Contact Information

    Nicole Cottam
    Phone: (508) 887-4802