DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jul 1 2014

Psycho Kitty!

by Hope L

catThings are crazy around our house.  Literally.  For years I have suspected that our aging orange tabby Autumn might be a candidate for the cat psychiatrist.  Then I read Psycho Kitty by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (or, as she is listed on another book, “Feline Behaviorist”).  I learned a lot.

Now, although the author is talking about wool-sucking in the paragraph below, where the cat finds socks, blankets and assorted laundry to abscond with and knead and lick, Autumn actually steals any laundry within reach and slowly plods around meowing, Rawwwr…. rawwwr, while dragging said laundry. I had asked a vet a long time ago what it might mean. The vet told me that Autumn was pretending the laundry was her kitten and wanted to call our attention to what she was bringing us. (Btw, I have tried to get Autumn to then put the laundry in the hamper, to no avail.)

But Johnson-Bennett’s theory is premature weaning, which would make sense because I was given Little Autumn as a wee thing, so small I had to feed her baby formula with an eyedropper. (I was told Autumn’s mommy was hit by a car.)

“Many cat owners have seen it, heard it, and been driven nuts by it–wool sucking.  It’s the strange behavior some cats display that consists of sucking and kneading on anything from the corner of a blanket to the hair on an owner’s head.  This behavior is named wool sucking because many cats focus this activity strictly on wool or wool-like fabrics, such as blankets, sweaters, and socks.

…Wool sucking mimics nursing, including the milk tread, the kneading motion kittens do with their paws to stimulate release of milk from the queen.”


Whatever the reason, Autumn is definitely a Psycho Kitty, to use the author’s apt title.  We have five animals (three cats, two dogs) and two humans–and Autumn is far and away the nuttiest in the household.  She hissed and growled at my partner Deb for the first few years of our nine years together.  Autumn still hisses and growls at our lone male kitty Butch, who loves to egg her on by playfully attacking her when he gets bored. When Autumn is sleeping or relaxing next to me on the bed, if I move and accidentally nudge her–or heaven forbid I move her out of my space–you guessed it, again with the growling and hissing. Some might call her cranky or crabby.

Okay. Obviously, I didn’t read Johnson-Bennett’s Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat–NOT a Sour Puss. And, no, I didn’t arrange for quality play dates for my kitties with their peers or enroll them in tap or ballet.

The dragging and rawwwring is definitely in another class.  She will even do it backwards, and I imagine the beeping of the garbage truck as she slowly backs up with the t-shirt, washcloth or sock between her legs.

Now, do you think my firstborn, my sweet, black pedigree Persian, Bella (my favorite, can you guess?), would lower herself to such depths of aggravating and distasteful behavior?  I think not!  And she was raised in the same home as her sister Looney Tuna.



But, hey, I raised Autumn. I bonded with her with the eyedropper and the Similac and episodes of Nancy Grace.  But I bet I know what you’re thinking …

         Crazy Cat Lady, anybody?


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Whitehead S. July 2, 2014 at 6:26 PM

I like this post, although I am no lover of cats. I suddenly find myself wanting to read a book with felines in it. Hmm…perhaps I’ll find a good weretiger story in the library…

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