Cats have a lot of unusual behaviors that are fairly baffling to their human owners. One of these is a tendency to suck on soft blankets. If you’ve spotted your cat has started to chew on blankets, you might be wondering exactly what is going on.
While blanket suckling can seem like strange behavior, it’s actually fairly normal in cats, particularly kittens. They’re likely seeking comfort and may find that sucking on a blanket helps them relax. But it can also be an indication that your cat is experiencing stress.
It’s important to understand the reasons behind this habit, so you can better understand your cat.
Why Does My Kitten Suck On Blankets?
It’s not unusual to see young kittens sucking on blankets. This is because they were taken from their mothers when they were still very young, and it’s just the natural urge to wean.
Kittens have an instinct to suckle, as it’s vital for their survival. Without their mothers around, the kittens turn to other things to suckle. This might mean blankets, toys, or even fingers.
The reason why blankets are so popular for suckling is that they’re soft and comfortable. The kitten might be reminded of their mom, which will encourage weaning behavior.
You might spot that your kitten accompanies suckling with purring and kneading. They’re doing this to soothe themselves and relax.
It’s likely that your kitten will eventually grow out of this behavior. As they start to eat solid foods and relax in their new home, you’re likely to see a decrease in suckling,
Why Does My Adult Cat Suck On Blankets?
While seeing a kitten suck on a blanket isn’t unusual, it might surprise you to see it from an adult cat, especially if it’s a habit they’ve only recently picked up. It could be a sign that they’re feeling stressed, anxious, or lonely.
It’s An Instinct
If your cat has developed a blanket suckling habit, it might just be an instinct that they’ve yet to grow out of. This is particularly true if they displayed the same behavior as a kitten.
We all have habits from childhood that we’ve struggled to shake, and the same is true for cats. It could just be a childhood habit they’ve kept as they grow.
It could also be something that they enjoy doing. Cats find the strangest things fascinating, and just because we don’t get it, it doesn’t mean they aren’t having a good time. Blanket sucking might just be your cat’s kind of fun.
It’s In Their Genetics
For some cats, suckling just appears to be a part of their genetics. Siamese, Tonkinese, Balinese, and other Oriental breed cats are more likely to show blanket sucking behaviors.
There’s no clear genetic reason why Oriental cats behave this way, but it’s likely to be linked to their longer weaning times.
They’re Looking For Comfort
Sucking on blankets is a habit often seen in young kittens that have been seeking comfort normally provided by their mom. When this behavior continues into adulthood, sucking could be a way of relaxing. If they’re kneading and suckling, they’re probably just calming themselves.
If your cat is particularly sensitive, then you might find they suck on blankets regularly. It’s reminding them of an environment that brought them comfort.
When your cat suckles while sitting on your lap, it’s likely a sign that they trust you, and you make them feel relaxed.
They Were Weaned Too Early
Older kittens may continue to suck on blankets if they’ve been weaned too early and have developed a habit. Kittens typically stay with their parents until they’re around eight weeks old and will consistently nurse up until this point.
When the kitten is taken away from their mother too early, they’ll continue to try to nurse, turning to blankets as a substitute. This behavior can fade, but it might stick around until adulthood.
They’re Feeling Stressed
Although blanket suckling isn’t always worrying behavior, it can be a cause for concern. Stress and anxiety can cause adult cats to start to suck on blankets.
During moments of high stress, blanket suckling can remind the cat of feeling safe and cared for as a kitten. If you’ve found your cat has started to suckle during a period of change, then it’s likely that they’re feeling overwhelmed. Do what you can to comfort them so they don’t rely on blanket sucking.
If left untreated, excessive blanket suckling can turn into obsessive-compulsive behavior. Check for other signs of compulsive behavior such as excessive grooming, tail or paw sucking, or licking their flank.
What Should I Do If My Cat Sucks On Blankets?
Many consider blanket suckling to be a habit that has to be broken. However, this may not be the case. It depends on the age of the cat and the reason for sucking.
If your cat is young, only occasionally sucks on blankets, or doesn’t appear to be stressed, it’s typically okay to let them carry on.
Of course, if your cat suckling is destroying your blankets, you might want to break the habit or at least change it. Try and encourage your cats to play or to suck on safer toys.
However, there are some occasions when you need to break the habit. For example, if your cat is suckling from stress, you must treat the larger issue.
The first thing you’ll need to do is try and reduce the stress in your cats’ life. Use interactive play to help them gain confidence, and set aside time to give your cat attention. Work this into a regular routine. Speak to your vet about how to calm your cat.
You might also need to stop blanket sucking if your cat is at risk of swallowing wool or fibers. Keep blankets out of reach, and try to distract them with toys and games.
Blanket suckling is often harmless behavior in cats, but it can also be a sign of stress. If your cat has only recently developed the habit and they’re displaying other compulsive tendencies, then speak to your vet.
Otherwise, this is fairly normal cat behavior and one that is likely to fade in time.