Why does my kitten like to eat?
Do you have a blanket to nurse a kitten, a t-shirt or something? So what is going on? Is it cute or does it bother you? Understanding the reasons why kittens suck on objects is critical to better understanding these kittens and understanding whether they need to end the behavior.
Read more below to find out why your kitty (and maybe even your adult cat) does this!
Why do kittens suck?
Seeing a kitty suck on a blanket, shirt, or anything else it has its paws on, you really want to know the reason behind this behavior.
This behavior in kittens (CURIOSITIES: this behavior is not only observed in kittens, you probably see it in most adult cats as well) has been observed in kittens for years and experts have come to give us the answer.
1. Separation from mother – This is the main reason why experts find it responsible for the care behavior of kittens. It seems that if kittens are weaned early, they are more likely to develop this behavior.
Prematurely weaned kittens will recreate the sensations and movements involved in nursing with their mothers on objects that can mimic that feeling. Therefore, we often see blankets, t-shirts, fabrics, teddy bears and even our skin (arms, legs, neck, ears, etc.) as the favorite things of nursing kittens.
It has been observed that a kitten weaned before 6 months will usually almost always be fed, possibly even until it is too small. Although there is no clear and appropriate time to wean cats, it takes between 6 and 12 months for cats to wean from their mothers.
2. Possible health problems – Well, here is a reason why you might want to go to the vet. An older cat exhibiting nursing behavior may indicate a problem and needs help.
Along with other symptoms you might read about in one of our posts (read: How to Tell If Your Cat Is in Pain), you may want to take your furball friend to the doctor. He or she may have hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or tooth and gum problems.
Of course, this is an uncertain diagnosis and taking your cat to your trusted vet is always the best option to find out how your cat is doing.
3. Feeling stressed – Experts also say that it could mean that the kitten is stressed, traumatized, anxious, bored, lonely, etc., and that the kitten may become uncomfortable and resort to nursing.
Is this common behaviour?
Well, this is common behavior in cats weaned at a very young age. Depending on the situation, you don’t have to worry about nursing kittens. This could be a symptom of a problem, but it’s not uncommon.
What a kitty nurse can do is look at the situations and scenarios around you, and then you can read more in this article for advice on what you can do in your particular situation.
Should I go to the vet?
The answer to this question depends on the specific situation. First, take a look at what your kitty normally eats. Find out if it is harmful to your kitty. While the kitten is young, nursing can ease any potential discomfort (whether from health or emotional issues), as long as your kitten isn’t hurting herself, her littermates, or even you.
In any case, if your kitten is in danger of harming herself or her littermates (and of course, you), there are certain actions and steps you can take to prevent your kitten from doing so.
Should I block my kitty?
This question also gives situational answers. If you suddenly stop your kitty from doing this, it may cause her more trauma or stress. If the situation calls for it, you may be able to stop your kitty from doing it, but never suddenly. If breastfeeding is harmful, you can try to slowly wean your kitten.
As long as your kitty’s sucking isn’t destructive to herself and others, you may be able to allow it to happen for a few months; then you can start manipulating your cat to avoid it.
Will it stop eventually?
Some kittens eventually get rid of the behavior, but some kittens grow up with the behavior and are no longer able to get rid of the behavior as they get older. Some can tone it down a bit too, less often when they were kittens.
It varies, depending on what is causing your cat’s behavior. Just watch your cat closely and watch him do this.
What I can do?
1. Keep you and your kitty safe – Double-check that what you are feeding your kitty is safe. That means seeing if the material could become harmful, something that might have certain loose parts that could be a risk of being swallowed by a cat, for example. If nursing becomes painful, slowly move your cat to another location. Make sure nothing your kitty eats is dirty or contaminated.
2. Substitution of objects – You can also intentionally give kitty her own nursing toy, especially if it’s a blanket or your t-shirt she prefers to nurse on. You can give him his own blanket or his own teddy bear. To make the replacement even better, maybe you can rub some of your scent on the replacement so your kitty can still recognize it as you.
3. Training to finally get out of the woods – As we said before, a sudden cessation of behavior could mean that your cat’s condition has deteriorated. You can train your cat to eventually stop nursing objects by slowly giving him the signal that he should finish feeding. If your kitten is nursing for a long time, what you can do is slowly reduce the amount of time your kitten is nursing. The key is pace, too sudden and your cat will just do more.
4. Distracts from the behavior – Give your kitty all the exercise you can. In some ways, this can divert your kitty’s attention from nursing to playing or walking. Perhaps you can give your kitty something to keep her busy, like lots of cat toys, a cat tree, or anything that can redirect your kitty’s attention.
5. Spend more time with your furry friends! – There is nothing better than spending quality time with your kitty! Creating a cozy, warm, affectionate, stress-free, and safe environment for your kitty can end up discouraging her from nursing.
Remember that all the data presented here is just a compilation of information from the internet, be careful when using it. Always consult an expert before making a decision about the health of your pets.