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C2010-44

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat Oreo has been licking the dining room furniture lately. Why does she do this? My other cat doesn’t.

Christopher Responds

Begin your investigation by thinking about any recent changes you’ve made at home. For example, did you start using a new furniture polish or switch Oreo’s food?

If not, schedule an exam and lab work with your veterinarian, who can help figure out whether Oreo’s licking is motivated by a medical or behavioral problem.

It’s important to determine whether Oreo has dental disease, mouth pain, stomach distress, liver disease, a kidney problem or an overactive thyroid gland. Any of these may have triggered her new behavior.

If your veterinarian rules out physical illness, Oreo’s furniture licking may be a compulsive disorder. If it’s severe enough to warrant treatment, her doctor can prescribe medication or refer you to a veterinarian who specializes in behavior problems.

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