You may have observed that your cat, despite being an adult, sometimes starts to suckle like a baby. It sucks on a fabric or an object and kneads a soft support like a blanket or tummy with its paws while purring. This behavior, which is a reflex of childhood and originating from mother’s sucking, has the function of helping the child to calm down, give confidence and comfort himself.
How can I identify this behavior in an animal against similar attitudes? What are the reasons? Should we be worried about seeing her suckle like a baby? What to do about this phenomenon? Our answers are in this file.
Why is my adult cat suckling like a baby?
How to detect sucking in cats?
Here we are talking about the behavior of the suckling cat, as the kitten does to its mother. The little cat then calms down and kneads the sucking surface of its paws as it does on its mother’s tummy to stimulate milk production. It is not uncommon for the cat to purr, as this practice gives him pleasure and a sense of well-being.
This attitude, reminiscent of the kitten clinging to its mother’s nipples, should be distinguished from the more aggressive, even truly brutal, pinching and chewing cat. In this case, it is not feeding that drives the cat to prepare for mating with a female, but the simulation of a sexual act. Indeed, to mate, the animal grabs and pinches the cat’s neck before chewing on the ground to balance itself. This is an instinctive behavior found in some non-castrated males and needs to be stopped. Push the animal back firmly and say “no!” say. “There is no need to be cruel, because the cat does not understand and may develop abnormal behavior instead. On the other hand, repetition of your rejections will help him break this habit.
Why is this behavior observed?
Not all cats will adopt this kitten-like sucking behavior, but some have to practice it, even if they’ve been weaned for years. This phenomenon seems to be related to the cat’s felt need for soothing, since the male cat is clearly observed purring, sucking on a fabric or an object, and kneading its surface, as evoked by his early childhood sucking on his mother. to nourish, comfort and soothe. Therefore, if the cat has the appearance of a zen animal capable of calming people, it may also need consolation.
But why such a need? The answers differ.
- Early weaning: Some have suggested separation and weaning too soon with the mother. When the little tomcat is adopted too early or separated from its mother before ten to twelve weeks of age, it has not yet been weaned and has not had time to learn the behavioral codes it needs to learn. This hasty separation can cause the adult cat to continue this reassuring sucking behavior that takes him back to his childhood and brings back happy memories.
- Benefits of sucking: Sucking a cat is likened to thumb sucking by a small child by some. This suction does indeed lead to the release of endorphins, the hormones of pleasure and relaxation. Therefore, there is nothing abnormal in the cat’s sucking to relax and calm down.
- A remedy for stress: This idea is derived from the previous ones, as this phenomenon appears to be more important when the animal is feeling stressed or anxious. Breastfeeding helps her calm down in the event of a change or in any situation that is difficult to live with (moving home, arrival of a new child or a new pet, loss of a loved one, etc.). In this case, if sucking can be dangerous – especially if he is sucking on objects that could harm him – and he has some behavioral issues, such as plucking his fur, consult your veterinarian for an appropriate solution.
- Predisposed breeds: It seems that some cat breeds are predisposed to the practice of this behavior. Balinese, Siamese, or Tonkin are especially more likely to breastfeed this way. These cat breeds experience a later weaning between 12 and 15 weeks. Maybe this is a clue?
What should I do if my cat suckles like a baby?
This behavior that arouses the kitten is practiced by the adult cat’s desire to be appeased. This is a reflexive attitude that shouldn’t worry you too much. Do not punish, scold, humiliate, or bully your pet. Violence has no place in his education and seems unfair as well as unproductive, especially for your little friend. You will have nothing to gain other than losing your cat’s trust.
If it bothers you, there is nothing you can do to stop this behavior. Your cat will stop himself if he wants to. But you can help her feel more peaceful by identifying and correcting the source of her stress or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to make time for petting and playing to give him a calmer environment and to help him calm down, relax and have fun. Offer him a good quality, balanced diet, preferably purchased from the veterinarian or pet store, to ensure his nutritional needs are met and to avoid deficiencies that can lead to stress and various diseases.
If you don’t like this behavior, leave the room, but let your pet fulfill this need that doesn’t hurt anyone. On the other hand, be careful because your cat may begin to suck or knead dangerous surfaces that could harm him, or fabrics and objects that he could swallow and risk causing intestinal obstruction.
Also, if this behavior is repeated a lot and your pet develops some ailments such as excessive licking, do not hesitate to consult the veterinarian as then he may experience severe stress or even depression. Do not underestimate the consequences, because depression can cause the animal to die. If in doubt, seek advice and recommendations from your veterinarian.