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Ask the Vet: Use Hand Signals to Train Deaf Dog

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Q: Mulan, my 2-year-old Siamese mix, recently started sucking my clothing, though she doesn't chew holes. She's especially drawn to my wool sweaters. Why does she do this?

A: Wool sucking is common among Siamese, Burmese and related breeds and mixes, so it's probably an inherited behavior. Cats that suck fabric most often choose wool, followed by cotton and then synthetics.

It may be that the lanolin in wool reminds Mulan of her mother's nursing her, or that the soft texture induces her to knead the fabric, which leads to sucking. Another theory is that stress may play a role.

You can interrupt Mulan's wool sucking by distracting her with an interactive toy, such as a laser pointer, Mylar cat teaser or feather on a fishing pole. Offer alternative oral stimulation, such as a dog chew toy.

Make feeding sessions more fun by letting Mulan hunt for her food. Hide small meals throughout your home, or put some kibble inside a food puzzle or feeder that opens when she manipulates it.


When Mulan cuddles in your wool-clad arms without sucking your sweater, reward her with a cat treat. Gradually lengthen the time until she receives the treat.

If Mulan chews holes in your sweaters and these recommendations don't help, make an appointment with her veterinarian.


Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at

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