Dear VetBabble: Why is My Kitten Constantly Suckling on Blankets and How Can I Get Her To Stop?
One of our readers recently shared a concern about her 10-week-old kitten that was taken in from the streets before being properly weaned. The kitten has developed a habit of constantly suckling on blankets, and the pet owner is curious about the reasons for this behavior and how to help the kitten overcome it. In this article, we will dive into the possible reasons and provide solutions to ensure a comfortable environment for both the kitten and the pet owner.
Understanding the Suckling Behavior in Kittens
The act of suckling and kneading is often a stress response or a way for cats to comfort themselves in various situations. This behavior might have been triggered due to the kitten being separated from her mother before getting weaned, as explained in our article about Queens and their New Kittens: What to Expect. Kittens might also display this behavior as a way of bonding when they feel calm and comfortable. Thus, it is essential to ensure that your pet has a stress-free and comforting environment.
Creating a Comfortable Environment for Your Kitten
To help your kitten feel more relaxed and at ease, try the following:
- Make sure that your kitten is not bothered by other pets or people in the house.
- Ensure that your kitten has plenty of exercise and playtime, as this can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Provide your kitten with easy access to her own food, water, litter, and hiding spots.
If your kitten was orphaned or taken from her mother too soon, make sure to read our guide on How to Take Care of Orphaned Kittens. It is crucial to be prepared for the first night home with a new kitten, especially in such cases. You can learn more about what to expect in our First Night Home with a New Kitten: What Should I Expect? article.
Keep in mind that some cats may continue to suckle and knead through adulthood, and it may never stop entirely. Unless you notice other signs of stress or illness along with suckling, there’s usually no need to be worried. However, if the behavior is causing distress to you or your kitten, consider further steps to manage the issue.
Managing Suckling Behavior in Your Kitten
If the suckling behavior has remained persistent despite creating a comfortable environment, consider the following options:
- Provide your kitten with a soft, plush toy or blanket specifically designed for this purpose, and redirect her attention to it whenever she starts suckling and kneading your blanket. This way, you can avoid damage to your belongings while allowing your kitten to indulge in her natural instincts when needed.
- Introduce gradual weaning from the suckling habit by creating positive associations with activities that don’t involve her blanket, such as playing, grooming, or snuggling with you.
- If the behavior persists, consult with a veterinarian or a professional behaviorist. It might be helpful to rule out any underlying health issues or anxiety disorders that could be contributing to your kitten’s behavior.
Above all, understanding and patience are key when dealing with kittens that display suckling and kneading behaviors. Remember to refer to our How to Care for a Kitten: Kitten Care Basics article for further guidance on caring for your kitten and ensuring her overall well-being.