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Suckling and Kneading







By Category   Media Center  |  Kittens  Cats  Products  |  All Pets  |    Print

 Feline Suckling

What is it?

Nutritional suckling is normal kitten behavior before kittens are weaned. It is normal for kittens to knead, suckle and purr. After weaning, some kittens continue suckling, perhaps to relax. Think of this behavior as a baby with a pacifier. Some kittens continue suckling longer than others just like some children continue a pacifier or sucking a thumb. Some kittens stop suckling but continue kneading.

If kittens are very stressed, suckling can become an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) are behaviors that are repeated over and over, also called, repetitive behaviors. OCD behaviors are hard to interrupt. Sometimes, suckling results in self-inflicted wounds. Kittens may lick or pull out fur until one area is raw.

What to do?

Ignore suckling if no harm no foul. If the cat is ingesting material, then seek professional help. Begin with a veterinary exam and consultation with a veterinary behaviorist to see if medications and behavior therapy are indicated. The goal will be to redirect the cat into activities or materials that are nor harmful.

Ackerman L., Hunthausen, W., & Landsberg, G. (2003). Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat. London, England: Elsevier Science Limited.

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