Why Do Cats Suck on Blankets?

Have you ever had a cat who sucked on everything in sight? I never have, but in some ways I almost kind of wish I had. Theres something ridiculously cute about watching a cat kneading and sucking on blankets while purring his fool head off. Need proof? Check out the video below. Of course, if you live with a blanket or clothing sucker, Im sure its not nearly as cute to you. If youve suffered from kitty spit-soaked bedding or ruined sweaters, I totally get that youd probably trade your wool sucker for one of my feline family members. Youve probably also wondered, Why do cats suck on blankets? Well, wonder no more. Here are some of the most common answers to Why do cats suck on blankets?

Is it okay for my cat to suckle blankets?

The instinct to suckle is very strong in young kittens, and they may try to suckle anything soft, warm and fuzzy, especially if it resembles a mother cat. This cat behavior can even last into adulthood, with a cat suckling on objects like a blanket, a fuzzy toy or a piece of clothing (often wool or a similar texture).

How do you stop a cat from nursing on blankets?

Remove the object of the suckling : sometimes just removing the blanket or toy will end the suckling, but, beware that this could cause too much trauma, so you may need to do it slowly over time. Sometimes you’re the one being suckled, so you will need to get up and remove yourself from the situation.

Why do cats suck on blankets and clothes?

Pica. Pica is when your pet eats non-food items, including blankets, shoes, and sweaters. Chewing or sucking on foreign objects results from poor social experiences, stress, anxiety, and inadequate weaning (before seven weeks).

Why does my cat suckle?

Basically, a cat or kitten will suckle as a sign of stress, compulsive behavior, or as way of expressing their contentment. When cats suckle, their eyes are usually closed and they are purring loudly—regardless of age. … While he is still a kitten, he continues to display cat suckling behavior as he grows.

Suckling is a common and, generally, non-harmful behaviour that occurs in all breeds and ages of cats but is most frequently observed in kittenhood. When kittens are first born, they are dependent on their mother for their nutrition. When suckling their mothers teats, kittens tread with alternate front paws at her body to stimulate the flow of milk.

Cat suckling is a common, generally non-harmful cat behavior that occurs in all breeds and all ages of cats. When cat suckling behaviors occur in adult cats, though, it tends to gets more attention and can be viewed as abnormal.

Excessive suckling behavior has been linked to early weaning in a number of cases. The diseases that would be direct causes of adult cat suckling would be behavioral disorders.

Virtually every stress-related behavior in cats can be attributed to a lack of proper resources. Separate eating, elimination and sleeping areas are paramount to a cats sense of well-being. Keep blankets, sweaters or other articles of clothing out of their reach, and if the cat’s desired object is a piece of furniture, isolate her from that room.

Boredom can be a part of the suckling, so it is a good idea to try playing, exercising, using puzzle toys or offering cat treats or small amounts of cat food to redirect the behavior and satisfy some of their other natural predation urges. Cat anxiety medication , such as buspirone (BuSpar) or gabapentin may work as well.

Having a favorite snuggle blanket is one thing, but some cats like blankets for more than just getting cozy. They like curling up with blankets and sucking on them like theyre sucking on a bottle or pacifier. Not every cat sucks on blankets, but its a relatively common behavior. It can be pretty cute to watch, but there are also cats that get carried away. They can ruin your favorite blankets, and you have to make sure theyre not also chewing and swallowing the fabric. Not to mention its hard to fall asleep when your cat is going to town on your comforter. If you notice your kitten, or even adult cat, sucking on blankets, know that theres a reason why theyre doing it.

Many behaviorists believe its a type of coping mechanism cats adopt when theyre dealing with significant anxiety in their everyday lives.

1. Natural Instinct

The instinct to suckle is very strong in young kittens, and they may try to suckle anything soft, warm and fuzzy, especially if it resembles a mother cat. This cat behavior can even last into adulthood, with a cat suckling on objects like a blanket, a fuzzy toy or a piece of clothing (often wool or a similar texture). You can think of it as being similar to human thumb-sucking, which, at least superficially, seems like a fair comparison.

2. Comfort

If a kitten is very relaxed or comfortable, kneading behavior usually occurs—often followed by suckling behavior. Both are normal and seem to be relaxing for a cat, whether milk is present or not. This is evident in the post-weaning kitten behavior of suckling when no milk is present.

3. Stress

If a cat is stressed, she may exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and that can include cat suckling. Other signs of stress include over-grooming behaviors, paw-sucking, tail-chewing or flank-licking.

4. Genetics

Oriental breeds, such as Siamese, Balinese, Tonkinese and their crosses, seem to be more prone to adult cat suckling than European or North American breeds.

5. Weaning Experience

Excessive suckling behavior has been linked to early weaning in a number of cases.

What Should You Do About Cat Suckling?

Probably nothing. As it is a soothing, calming and instinctual response for the cat, indicating comfort and contentment, it is probably best to just accept cat suckling as a normal cat behavior.However, if it is causing excessive stress to the owner or is leading to ingestion of foreign material (pica) resulting in excessive vomiting or gastric upset, you should try to reduce or eliminate the behavior.

They Left Mom Too Early

The most common reason why cats suck on blankets is because they were separated from their mothers at too young an age. They were weaned too early, and that potentially traumatic experience could have long-term affects. In an ideal world, kittens stay with their mothers until they’re at least eight weeks old. During those early weeks, they get all their nutrition from mom. They nurse and knead their mother’s tummy both when they’re hungry and when they’re seeking comfort. Even when they start eating solid foods, they’ll occasionally go back to mom for that sense of comfort and safety.But when a kitten leaves mom before they’re fully weaned and confident with being on their own, they can resort back to those kitten-like behaviors. When cats suck on blankets, it reminds them of suckling with their mom. It’s part of their instinct. If a kitten was denied that experience in its youth, it might turn blanket sucking into a lifetime habit.

They’re Dealing With Stress

If an adult cat suddenly has a new habit of sucking on blankets, it might not be because they left mom too early. This behavior has also been linked to stress. Many behaviorists believe it’s a type of coping mechanism cats adopt when they’re dealing with significant anxiety in their everyday lives. It’s a self-soothing strategy that seems to offer some cats relief from mental stress.There are countless reasons why a cat suddenly becomes stressed. Maybe you recently introduced a new pet into the household, or maybe a change in routine has put them on edge. Some cats also act stressed when they feel sick or are hiding an injury. If they start sucking on blankets in an attempt to make themselves feel better, they might choose to continue the habit even after that initial stress disappears.

It Makes Them Feel Comfortable

Even if your cat isn’t dealing with a significant amount of stress, sucking on blankets can still be a form of relaxation. It reminds them of those early days with mom, and who doesn’t want to feel like a care-free baby every now and again?For some cats, sucking on a blanket is a way to lull themselves to sleep. Fuzzy blankets especially remind them of those comfy days being cuddled up close to mom. They feel calm and safe. And the more they suck on blankets, the more of a habit it becomes.