There’s a reason why cats are known to be mysterious creatures. Even cat parents sometimes have to wonder why cats sometimes behave the way they do. Although many cat behaviors are endearing albeit head-scratching, there are some cat behaviors that can be described more as bothersome or disturbing. For instance, cats sometimes tend to nurse on objects that serve zero nursing purpose—blankets, stuffed animals, arms, fingers, purses, and many other random things. This behavior is known as suckling, and it could pose as a danger to cats young and old alike. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your cat to stop nursing on random objects. But first, it’s important to understand the possible reasons for your cat’s suckling behavior.
Why cats nurse on objects
Cat are oftentimes seen as solitary creatures. But while most cats prefer to isolate themselves, they still require a level of care and affection much like any other pet. There are many theories as to why cats resort to suckling behavior, which can present in young kittens or even in mature cats. One popular belief is that cats that nurse on objects may have been weaned too early from their mothers. Naturally, kittens will wean between 6 to 12 weeks after birth. There are a number of reasons why a kitten might be weaned earlier than normal. Death is a common one. When a mother cat dies after giving birth, her kittens are separated unwillingly. Kittens could also get lost or adopted. An early weaning will likely trigger a kitten to nurse on any object it could find to satiate natural nursing needs. In addition to being weaned too early, the separation itself could also trigger suckling on kittens. Being separated from her mother is a traumatic even for any kitten. It could trigger separation anxiety that can manifest itself as suckling later on. In fact any kind of anxiety or stress could be a factor in a cat’s random nursing. While it might not happen during its early years, a cat could experience this later on in life. Stress or anxiety could be triggered by any environmental change, sickness, social issues such as the introduction of new pets into the household, and more. Apart from emotional triggers, suckling could also be caused by actual medical conditions. These could only be diagnosed by your veterinarian but could explain the suckling behaviors of your cat. Some medical conditions that have been associated with cats nursing on objects include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and various dental issues.
Problems with nursing
As a cat parent, it’s natural to feel concerned when your pet exhibits unnatural behaviors, but nursing on objects isn’t always a bad thing. If the underlying issues aren’t too serious, nursing oftentimes will go away on its own. You can see this as a cats cat’s way of soothing thing itself when feeling some kind of stress. If the behavior is exhibited occasionally, it’s oftentimes not cause for concern. The problems with nursing on objects arise with frequency and depend on the type of objects your cat is latching onto. Of course, if there are medical conditions triggering the behavior, it’s important that those get addressed first. Nursing on fabrics could be particularly harmful for your cats, especially when the fabric is wool. Wool suckling is the actual term for nursing on objects composed of fabric. This could be anything from blankets to sweaters, carpets, shoelaces, and the like. The problem arises when material is actually ingested by your cat. Fabrics can cause damage to the intestinal lining and can hurt your cat tremendously. Some cats may even nurse on themselves or on you. If you find your cat suckling on its own belly, it can cause damage to its own body. The same can happen to you. If your cat has chosen your arm or any part of your skin to nurse on, you could easily get skin irritations from the behavior.
How to stop your cat from nursing on objects
The first step is to have your cat examined by a vet. This will check if there are any other serious conditions that your cat may be experiencing that’s causing the suckling behavior. Once any medical conditions are addressed, you can then proceed to correct any developed nursing behavior. You should remember that anything a cat is nursing on has become an object of attachment. Taking it away form your cat completely could trigger even more stress and anxiety. At the same time, eliminating the object could be the first step to stopping your cat from nursing on it. You’ll just have to make sure that you offer your pet enough comfort to help soothe away whatever stress or anxiety it might be feeling. There’s a likelihood that your cat might be feeling neglected or ignored. Offering your cat ample of attention could easily take away its need to soothe itself.
In addition, your cat needs to have constant stimulation. Make sure that there are enough toys and activities around for your cat to do. Access to windows is always helpful, as cats are naturally curious creatures and like to look out to the world. Cats are also playful creatures. If your cat doesn’t have other cats or pets to interact with, make sure that you give it enough play time with yourself. Be careful to introduce changes into the cat’s environment. Preparation and consistency are keys to having a well-adjusted cat. Diet could also play a role in curbing suckling behaviors. If a cat is nursing because it’s not feeling full after eating, the best solution is to add fiber to its diet. All in all, the best solutions are the positive ones. Your cat can only properly stop nursing on random objects with your help, care, love, and attention. It’s basically everything you already probably give.