Q: My cat chews on wool. Is that normal?
A: I have found that the need to chew on something unusual is not all that uncommon. It even has a name, pica, and both male and female cats do it. One of my clients told me a funny story about his cat Ike. It seems Ike had chewed through the cuffs on an expensive pair of wool pants. His tailor told him the pants could not be repaired and would now be cuffless. No problem, said my client, who took it all very well but now makes sure all closet doors are shut and all clothes put away. Fortunately Ike only seemed to go for wool.
Meanwhile, some cats like to knead on fabric. My cat Ethel is one, particularly if it is something I am wearing. This can be a bit painful if her nails haven’t been recently clipped, but I allow it. She has an expression of total contentment while doing so, and I often feel she is remembering when she was a kitten with her mom, but that’s just me.
Chewing on objects like plastic, string, wood and wool should not be encouraged. Swallowing some of it could be harmful, and I even know someone whose cat ate one of her camisoles! Best to keep temptation out of the way and fill the house with catnip toys, small balls with bells, toys filled with treats and cardboard scratching posts. Bored cats can get into trouble, so you want to encourage positive activity. Chewing on plants might be a sign that your cat needs more fiber in its diet. Ask your vet and also check the ASPCA list of poisonous house plants. You would be surprised what is on it.
Use common sense with your cats and always make time for praise when they are good.