Why is my Kitten Nursing on Objects?
Do you have a kitten suckling blankets or shirts or literally anything? So, how is it? Is it cute or is it annoying you? Knowing the reason behind why kittens nurse on objects is essential in order to understand these kittens better and see if they need to put an end to this behavior.
Read more below to understand why your kitten (or probably even your grown cat) does this!
Why do Kittens Suckle?
Seeing a kitten suckling blankets or shirts or any other thing that it gets its paws on will really make you wonder about the reason behind this behavior.
Well through the years that this behavior among kittens (TRIVIA: This behavior is not only observed in kittens, you may also see this in most some grown cats) has been observed, experts have come to provide us with answers.
1. Seperation from mother – This is the primary reason that experts found to be responsible for the nursing behaviors in kittens. It seems that if kittens are weaned too early from their mothers, they are most likely to develop this behavior.
Kittens who are weaned too early recreates the feeling and actions involved in nursing with its mother, in objects that may simulate the feeling as well. That is why; we often see blankets, shirts, cloth, teddy bears and even our skin (arms, legs, neck, ears, etc.,) as the favorite items of kittens that suckle.
It is observed that kittens who are weaned before 6 months are usually almost always going to suckle – maybe even until he or she grows older. While there is still no definite proper time to wean a cat, an approximate of 6-12 months should be given before a cat could be weaned from its mother.
2. Possible health problems – Well, here is one reason that should make you want to take a visit to your vet. Older cats that develop the suckling behavior may be an indication that there is a problem and it needs help.
Together with other symptoms that you can learn about in one of our posts (Read: How to know if your cat is in pain), you might want to bring your furball companion to the doctor. He or she may have hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or tooth and gums problems.
Of course, this is an indefinite diagnosis and bringing your cat to your most trusted vet is always the best option, to know about your cat’s condition.
3. Feeling stressed – Experts also say that this may mean that the kittens feel stressed, trauma, anxious, bored, lonely, etc, It is a wide variety of feelings that the kitten may find uncomfortable to deal with, therefore turning to nursing instead.
Is this a Common Behavior?
Well, it is a common behavior seen among cats who were weaned at a very early age. Depending on the situation, you do not have to be that worried about kittens who nurse. It may be a sign of problems but it is not unusual.
What you can do as soon as the kitten nurse is to observe the situation and scenario that surrounds it, then you can read further this article to know tips that can be done in particular situations.
Should I go to the Vets?
The answer to this question is on a case to case basis. First, observe the material that your kitten usually nurses on. See if it is going to be harmful to your kitten. While a kitten is young, it is okay for it to nurse in order to relieve any possible uncomfortable feeling (be it about health problems or emotional concerns) – as long as your kitten will not harm itself, its fellow litter mates, or even you in the process.
If in any case, your kitten is in danger of hurting itself, or its litter mates (and even you, of course), there are certain actions and measures that you can take in order to be able to stop your kitten from doing this.
Should I Stop my Kitten?
This question will also give a situational answer. If you abruptly stop your kitten from doing so, it may possibly only induce more trauma or stress to your kitten. If the situation calls for it, then maybe you could stop your kitten from doing so – but never abruptly and sudden. If the suckling is harmful, you can try to slowly veer away your kitten from it.
As long as the nursing behavior of your kitten is not destructive of itself and others, maybe you can allow it to occur for a few months; then you can already start maneuvering your cat into avoiding this suckling behavior.
Will it Stop Eventually?
To some kittens, they eventually grew out of this behavior; but some kittens grew with this behavior - never able to shed it off as they aged. Some also may have it toned down a bit – a little less frequent when they are still kittens.
It varies really, depending on the cause that elicits this behavior in your cat. Just watch your cat closely and observe the instances that he or she does it.
What Can I Do?
1. Keep things safe for both you and your kittens – Look closely if the things that your kitten nurses on are safe. This means, observe if the materials may become harmful – like things that may have certain loose parts that could be in danger of being swallowed by your cat. If the nursing becomes painful, slowly divert your cat away into something else. Make sure that the things your kitten is suckling on are not dirty or contaminated.
2. Substitution of objects – You can also intentionally give the kitten its very own nursing toy, especially if it is the blankets or your shirts that he or she is fond of suckling. You can give it its own blanket or its own teddy bear. And to make the substitution better, maybe you can rub some of your scent into the substitute object so that your kitten may still recognize it as you.
3. Training to eventually shake it off – As we have said earlier, the sudden stop of the behavior may mean aggravation in your cat’s situation. You can train your cat to eventually stop nursing on objects by slowly giving your cat the signal that the nursing should end. If your kitten nurses in long periods of time, what you can do is slowly shorten the time the kitten spends on nursing. The key is the pacing, too sudden and your cat will only be doing it more.
4. Distraction from the behavior – Provide your kitten with all the exercise you can give. This may somehow divert your kitten’s attention from nursing to playing or moving around. Perhaps you can give your kitten something to be busy on like lots of cat toys, a cat tree, anything that will re-channel your kitten’s attention.
5. Spend more time with your furry friend! – Nothing beats spending quality time with your kitten! Creating a nurturing, warm, caring, stress-free and secure environment for your kitten may eventually stop him or her from the suckling behavior.
Whether or not we find the suckling behavior cute or not is already out of the question, what is important is that we as human companions understand why our furry friends do this. From there, we can take further action – one that is suitable and appropriate that will not aggravate your cat’s welfare.