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What To Do If Your Cat Has a Sucking Problem

 by danielle on 19 Jul 2014 |
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Some cats, when cuddled up on their owner’s lap, have a habit of taking a hold of part of their clothes in their mouth and sucking. It can be baffling behaviour for people who have not had a cat prone to it before – what on earth are they up to?
 
Why 'Sucking'?
 
Whilst it may seem peculiar, sucking cats are just continuing a natural kitten impulse into adulthood. Kittens suck on their mothers for milk, often kneading her body at the same time with their paws. Adult cats are simply treating their owner’s as ‘Mothers’, sucking their clothes and pawing as they would have as babies.

 
 
Though they don’t receive milk for their efforts, sucking clothing, like a child sucking its thumb, can be a comforting and relaxing thing to do for cats. Cats that have been weaned too early or orphaned are especially likely to engage in the behaviour, their reduced ‘childhood’ creating an infantile adult.
 
Sometimes sucking is simply an expression of relaxation, but it can also be a response to anxiety or boredom. If your cat seeks you out to suck, it may be a sign they have been fretting about something and sucking is their way of lowering their stress levels.

 

Can I stop it?
 
If your cat only sucks occasionally and they seem otherwise happy with their life and only seem to do so out of affection, it may be best to just leave things be.
 
If it is a compulsive habit however, there are some actions you can take to help minimise your cat’s habit.
 
1. Get Up and Walk Away 

If your cat starts sucking, simply place them gently on the ground and leave the room. This is a simple way of showing them their behaviour is not appreciated. Make sure you act as soon as the sucking occurs so your cat can make the association that sucking leads to the end of your petting session.
 
2. Distraction

Distraction with toys or play can be another way to help break the compulsion. If your cat is prone to suck out of boredom, increased stimulation could take away the root issue - and their really is no cat that won’t benefit from increased environmental enrichment.
 
3. Kitty Chew Toys 

 

If your cat finds oral behaviours relaxing and you only want them to stop using you as their own personal sucking station think about buying them some cat chew toys. There are dental health cat toys that help clean your cat’s teeth and your kitty can suck and gnaw on them until their heart’s content.

4. Remove Stress

If you are worried your cat is anxious, try discovering what in their environment might be causing them issues. Is it another cat in the house or neighbourhood? When the family dog barks? A change in the daily routine? If you can’t change what is upsetting your cat try adding more hidey-holes and cat poles to your home so your cat has lots of places to ‘escape’ their worries.

 

Another possible solution is getting a feline pheromone diffuser. It has been shown to have positive effects of nervous cats and help reduce a wide variety of problem behaviours. 
 
 

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