My Cat is Eating All My Clothes

This is Morgan.  Morgan is just under two years old, and has been pure hell on wheels since I got her.  She stalks and harasses the other cats, jumping on them while they sleep.  Other times she hops on their backs when they attempt to Beastrun away, riding them through the house like they were her own personal pony.  She jumps up on countertops and knocks stuff down.  She literally runs up walls and tries to grab on to pictures or holiday decorations.  She even figured out how to open cupboards and began chewing open cans of food.  It got to be that everyday she would up her game, figuring out new ways to be destructive.  Morgan didn’t even seem a proper name for her, so I started occasionally calling her Beast.  She actually seemed to like it.  Thing is, I probably should have known that she might try to live up to the moniker.  Well, live up to it she has, because lately this Beast has begun to eat my clothes.  No, seriously.

It all started with shoelaces.  Normal enough, I thought.  She’s a cat.  Cats like to play with strings, right?  I couldn’t be surprised if I found a piece of my shoelace missing a time or two here and there.  I’d just start putting my shoes up and tucking the laces inside.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought, anyway.

Next I caught her chewing on my blanket a few times while I was laying in bed.  A little weird, but I was able to scare her off by yelling or clapping my hands.  No real harm done.  She just seemed to *enjoy* nibbling at it, I don’t know why.  But I couldn’t very well let her chew holes in it either.

That’s when things started getting bizarre.  I’d start to find holes in my pajama pants, for instance.  At first I’d attempt to rationalize it away.  They’re a few years old, maybe they’re just worn out.  It couldn’t be the cat.  Just couldn’t be.  Why in hell would a cat want to destroy my pants?  Besides, I wasn’t finding any of the missing pieces of cloth laying around anywhere, and Beast frequently likes leaving little trinkets (such as candy wrappers, balled up receipts, bottle caps) that she has found along her journeys out in the living room to play with later.  I even checked in her “lair,” which is what I began calling the area behind and underneath the sofa where she would hide out at times.  Nothing.  Not a damn thing.

But then I was getting dressed for work one day, and my brown shirt had a huge piece missing at the bottom.  There’s no way this could be explained away as normal wear and tear quite so easily.  Still, I had not seen any piece of the cloth laying around and, wait a minute, it’s not like I left the shirt laying around anywhere.  It had been hanging up in the closet for the past week.  If she had actually ripped it off with her teeth, she would have had to be standing on her hind legs to do it.  I knew she was a Beast, but would she really put that much effort into something like that?   few days later, I find out my favorite blue flannel has holes up and down the sleeves.  What in hell is going on here?  And where in hell is the cloth?  Could she really be eating it?

flannelNo, couldn’t be.  If she was really eating the missing cloth, she would be sick.  Refusing to eat.  Vomiting.  Something!  But no, this cat had all the energy in the world, and an appetite to match.  She wasn’t even lethargic.  Hell, she barely seemed to sleep.  It just didn’t make sense that she could be eating shoelaces, pajama pants, and my t-shirt, and not show some signs of distress.

I began to look online for answers.  It turns out that a number of people had cats who were doing similar things.  They wanted to know why.  Some suggested their pet had separation anxiety, or was just bored.  Others said the cats had the feline form of pica, where you crave and eat non-food items such as clay, dirt, or, I guess, shirts.

That’s when I found a piece of clothing in her stool outside the litter box.  Now I’m nervous, and kicking myself for not getting her to a vet sooner.  Why in hell did I wait?  Shouldn’t I have realized it didn’t make sense for all the missing material to have just disappeared?  The appointment was made to get her an x-ray and find out if she needed surgery to alleviate the obstruction in her bowels that I had now convinced myself she had.  This poor cat.  She is days from serious health problems, and here she is running and bouncing off the walls, terrorizing the other cats wherever they go.  She doesn’t even know the trouble she is.

The day of the vet appointment comes, and I even bring along my flannel shirt so they can see what we’re dealing with.  I’m just waiting to hear how much is in her belly, and how much it’s going to cost for her to have surgery.  They do an x-ray and it’s the strangest thing.  It’s totally clear.  She doesn’t have a scrap of t-shirt in her.  The vet says that, strange as it may sound, it’s likely that my clothes simply broke down in her belly, and she digested them like she would normal food.  So, does she have pica?  No.  Pica is extremely rare, and simply feasting on my clothes alone isn’t evidence of it.

So, what in the hell is it?  It turns out that it’s similar to something I wrote earlier.  She just enjoys chomping on clothes.  It soothes her, makes her feel better.  Nothing more or less than that.  She’s just a cat who needs to be kept occupied, and when I’m sleeping, away at work, or even just sitting quietly in the living room, she needs something to do.  So, when there’s no cats around to chase, or she’s a little bored of leaping up the walls, she might take a stroll around the house looking for something to chew on to give her some relief.

Though I’m down a few shirts, admittedly I feel a whole lot better.  Still, I’m not leaving clothes within her reach quite so easily anymore.  I’ve stopped using a hamper for laundry, and started using a tote I can lock up instead.  And I keep my bedroom door closed a lot of the time so that she doesn’t get any ideas about heading toward the closet.  It’s kind of a pain in the butt having to implement these changes, but in the end it is a tradeoff I’m happy to make.

Still, I wish I had started calling her something sweeter sounding.  You know, like Buttercup, maybe.



4 thoughts on “My Cat is Eating All My Clothes

  1. My ex-wife and I had a cat who was obsessed with eating plastic bags and photographs. It became second nature in our house to make sure all grocery bags were always dealt with and we couldn’t use them for storage. And after the first few photographs were destroyed we quickly learned to keep them put away or in albums.

    It seemed a hassle as first, but eventually it was just habit. And while he did actually eat the plastic bags, he’d only bite the pictures, leaving them perforated with little teeth holes.

    His name was Tuffy (my wife named him, not me).

    • Jeez! I’m really starting to find out how weird cats can be. I’ve kept them as pets all my life, but never knew they did stuff like this. Seemed like more of a dog thing. :p

  2. Wow, I have never heard of this type of cat behavior. Like you Jason, I would assume it to be a dog thing. Maybe she needs a companion? I would suggest some cat toys, but it sounds like she would end up eating them.

    • It’s definitely strange to find out your favorite clothes are being eaten by your cat, haha. She does have a couple other cats she could hang out with, but they don’t like her much because she chases them and beats them up all the time!

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