How can I get my kitten to stop suckling on my stuff?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I have a kitten she is about 7 or 8 weeks old and like to suckle on blankets or my shirt or anything she can paw really I wanted to know why she does it and how can I stop her from doing it please.

Jo Robertson

Answer

Hi Jo– thanks for your email. Your kitten sounds cute. You wrote that your 7 or 8-week-old kitten is suckling on your stuff and you wonder how to make it stop.

That is a difficult behavior to stop. You can try rewarding your kitten’s behavior when she is not suckling but she may be a a little young for this. I don’t think punishment when you catch her doing it is the right approach either.

The easiest thing to do is to direct the behavior to something you find acceptable. I’ve had cats that like lambs wool – so you could direct that behavior to an item such as that. She is really just being a kitten and trying to find some comfort.

An article that might be helpful to you is Wool sucking. This article may be interesting but it is directed toward older cats that continue this behavior.

Many kittens suckle things but most stop as they mature. It is probably similar to sucking your thumb as a kid. Most kittens grow out of it. Like I mentioned above, the easiest thing might be to direct the behavior to one particular item that you find acceptable.

When she goes to sleep, you can put her on that item and pet her, coo at her and if she wants to suckle, she can.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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