Picture this: you are sitting on the porch enjoying the sunset, and suddenly the weather gets chilly. You rush to get your favorite cashmere sweater only to find a few holes in it. You dismiss it thinking your house has a rat that needs to be dealt with so you reach for the blanket on the couch only to find it in a worse condition. If you have a cat in the house, then do not blame the holes on the sweater and blanket on the rodents; blame your feline friend. However, before you vow to get rid of the cat, you should understand there are reasons why the cat sucks on blankets. Here is more regarding your predicament, and what you can do to eliminate the bad habit. Here are some reasons for cat sucking on blankets:
Early Separation from Mother
If you notice that your cat is sucking on blankets, you might have separated it too early from its mother, which affects the kitten’s emotional state. All young ones need to be with their mothers for a certain period, and for cats, the recommended time frame is the first eight weeks. By then, kittens will have had enough of their mother’s attention as they suckle and knead on the breasts; the colostrum also enables the kittens to get enough immunity.
A bottle’s teats may feel like a nipple, but it can never replace it. Therefore even if you choose to bottle feed the kitty, you will most likely see it behaving like it is sucking on the mother’s nipples by kneading as it used to as a newborn. Consequently, without the nipple to suck on, a kitten will choose to suck on the next cuddly thing it finds, which is usually the blanket. If not stopped, the behavior goes on even in adulthood.
You might have seen a baby who has developed a habit of sucking on their thumbs, and a behavioral specialist will tell you that it is their way of seeking comfort. Breastfeeding brings a feeling of security as the baby is latched on to the mother’s breast. Therefore, thumb sucking is common as babies soothe themselves to sleep. Similarly, kittens who need to find their comfort and don’t have the mother around will end up sucking on a blanket to overcome the stress.
In adult cats, it is evident in households that are causing stress to the cats, such as a new pet or even the loss of a loved one, human or otherwise, as The Spruce Pets informs us. By sucking on a blanket, the adult kitty reminds itself of the safety it felt while with the mother. The habit can develop into obsessive-compulsive disorder, which will then be harder to manage.
Sometimes, it is not your fault; you may have waited until the kitten was weaned, and you ensure that you provide a relaxing environment to the cat, but still, it will suck on a blanket. Some breeds, for instance, the Siamese and Oriental cats, are more inclined to do it than others. Research has proven that Oriental cats require a more extended weaning period than other breeds, but the habit has not been associated with nay genetics.
Another uncommon fact for sucking on a blanket is that your cat is showing how it trusts your ability to keep her safe. Children will hold on to their blankets for a long time, sometimes going as far as bringing it along with them wherever they go because it is their haven. Your cat, on the other hand, may not carry your blanket around but sucking on it communicates how much it trusts you to be its knight in shining armor.
Health Risks Associated with the Behavior
You might wonder why you should not let the cat have its comfort, for as long as it takes, by sucking on the blanket. After all, you feel it is vital to keep the felines’ emotional wellbeing at its best. However, there are some health risks for exposing your cat, and the more it sucks on the blanket, the worse it gets. Blankets are made of different materials; wool blankets, which your cat will prefer, sometimes form balls which your cat will most likely ingest.
Ingestion of inedible materials can result in pica- a craving to chew on items of no nutritional value. The more it sucks, the more the desire increases and the gastrointestinal issues will develop with time. Symptoms that your cat has intestinal blockage as published by MyPetNeedsThat.com include lethargy, diarrhea, reduced appetite, constipation, and vomiting. Treating pica is not an easy task; you will have to avert the behavior by providing more safe toys to chew on instead and hope the cat forgets about the blanket.
What to Do to Stop Your Cat from Sucking on Blankets
Prevention has always been better than cure, so before the cat’s chewing habits result in pica, you can stop your cats from sucking on blankets using a few methods as detailed below:
Eliminate the blanket – There is no way you can tell a child not to eat cookies yet leave them in full view; temptation will kick in, and there will be no going back. Cats too will be tempted to suck on a blanket if they spot it; hence hiding it is one way to mitigate the habit. They might find something to suck on; thus, when you get rid of the blanket, substitute it with some chewable toys.
Change the Environment – If the environment is causing your cat to suck on a blanket, you will have to change it to instill more positive behavior. If you moved, then, of course, you cannot shift houses again, so instead, you will have to keep the cat preoccupied. Vet Street advises that incorporating more daily exercises and activities will help the cat forget about the blanket sucking.
Veterinary Help – As with anything concerning our fur babies, always consult the veterinary before you embark on any corrective measures. The cat may have an underlying medical condition that is pushing it to suck on a blanket; hence, without your vet’s involvement, your attempts to cull the behavior will be futile.