I followed my Cornish Rex, Carson, when he was once about four months previous. He was once a candy, affectionate kitten, however he had an atypical conduct: He would suck on his chest and abdomen, maximum frequently in eventualities the place it gave the impression he sought after to convenience himself, in particular when he was once adjusting to his new house.

Once I requested my vet concerning the conduct, he stated that it was once most probably led to through Carson being weaned a bit of early. He prompt me to keep watch over the conduct to verify Carson wasn’t making himself bleed or significantly frustrating his pores and skin. In my case, essentially the most injury my cat ever led to was once to make the fur on his chest and abdomen beautiful damp. So, what’s up with cat nursing behaviors and when will have to you concern? Let’s have a look:

Wool sucking

A cat sucking on a blanket.

Wool sucking in cats is a commonplace self-soothing conduct. Images ©ElenaBoronina | Thinkstock.

The identify maximum regularly used to explain Carson’s nursing conduct is “wool sucking,” because the kittens who have interaction on this job might suck on pieces corresponding to sweaters and blankets (therefore the “wool” within the identify) in addition to shoelaces, ribbons and different fabric-like pieces together with carpet. The kitten may additionally suck on himself (as in Carson’s case) or any other animal’s tail. Wool sucking in most cases signifies {that a} kitten was once separated from his mom too early, explains Marilyn Krieger, an authorized cat conduct marketing consultant and creator of Naughty No Extra!

“However there are different causes for the conduct,” she says. “Separation nervousness and tension too can cause cats to wool suck and nurse. A couple of stressors come with surprising adjustments, new pets and community cats.” Different occasions like too many pets in the house or the surprising absence of a circle of relatives member (corresponding to thru divorce or a tender grownup shifting out of the house) too can cause the conduct.

Don’t concern: As my veterinarian discussed with Carson, a cat nursing himself in most cases does now not motive himself any hurt. Krieger says that almost all kittens outgrow the conduct as they mature.

“Maximum kittens will progressively prevent nursing after they’re offered to forged meals,” she explains. “Kittens will have to stay with their mothers till they’re 12 weeks previous. Some will proceed to take a look at to nurse on their mum however will in the end develop out of it.”

Be involved: Wool sucking, alternatively, can change into extra critical if the kitten or cat prefers to suck on material pieces. “There may be the chance of chewing and drinking the fabric, in all probability leading to an intestinal blockage,” Krieger says. She additionally cautions homeowners to be involved if the conduct extends previous the cat’s first yr of existence.

“It’s necessary to resolve the explanations in the back of the self-comforting conduct,” she explains. “House owners will have to first have the cat evaluated through a veterinarian. Even though substituting one thing this is more secure for the cat to suck can assist, it’s necessary to spot and maintain the supply of the strain. Along with figuring out and coping with the triggers, other people can assist thru enriching the [cat’s] atmosphere.” Krieger cautions towards seeking to power a cat to forestall wool sucking. “It creates extra nervousness and tension for the cat,” she says.


Every other conduct related to cat nursing is kneading. In our space, we name this job “the kitty dance,” because it looks as if the cat is training a pussycat tango regimen. Jack, my 9-year-old crimson tabby, is essentially the most common “dancer” in our family and frequently plays this job on a cushy pillow on our sofa simply prior to curling up for a snooze.

Krieger explains that cat kneading frequently accompanies wool sucking and cat nursing and is any other self-comforting conduct. As an example, kittens knead when they’re nursing to assist stimulate their mom’s milk manufacturing.

“Feral cousins of our family kittens frequently knead to make a cushy position among the plants for sound asleep,” Krieger provides. “One idea states that kneading may be probably the most ways in which cats would possibly mark their territories. They have got odor glands at the backside in their paws. Once they knead, they’re activating those glands and leaving their odor.”

Don’t concern: Kneading in most cases is identified as some way cats specific their happiness, and lots of cats will proceed to knead right through their lives (as Jack loves to exhibit on nearly a day-to-day foundation). In truth, cats nearly all the time purr after they knead and may also contain all 4 paws within the rhythmic up-and-down job.

Be involved (however just for your self!): Many cats affiliate their homeowners’ laps with happiness and might start to knead whilst enjoyable with their people. The happier your cat turns into with this case, alternatively, the extra intense the kneading might change into, and in case your cat comes to his claws within the job, it might change into a bit of painful for you!

Let us know: What peculiar cat nursing behaviors does your kitty have?

Thumbnail: Images ©Silvia Jansen | Alamy Inventory Picture.

This piece was once firstly printed in 2017.

A lifelong cat proprietor, Stacy N. Hackett writes incessantly about cats, cat breeds and a variety of pet-related subjects. The muse for her writing comes from her 4 cats — Jack, Phillip, Katie and Leroy — and her Cocker Spaniel/Labrador Retriever combine, Maggie.

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