Stopping Suckling Behavior in Kittens

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionI have a 4 month old kitten who is a suckler and I have tried hard to break this habit. Do you have any suggestions on how to stop this habit? (Vicki Couvillon - Virginia)

Answer

Suckling behavior is very common in cats up to around 6 months, and some cats never grow out of it. Some behaviorists think that compulsive suckling behavior is an indication that the kitten was removed from its mother too early or too abruptly, and there is no really persuasive argument about whether stopping this behavior or not is better for your cat. Most cats do grow our of this behavior, but it can take months or even years. In order stop this behavior the most important thing is to be consistent - if you are going to disallow this behavior you must try not to ever allow her to do it again.

You should never scold your kitten for suckling since she may feel rejected - after all she is simply being affectionate or doing what comes naturally. What you want to do is to discourage her behavior by making it unappealing to her. If you want to stop your kitten from suckling on an inanimate object you can try using deterrents such as Bitter Apple, which simply gives the object a bad taste. If you want to stop your kitten from suckling on you or your hair, you could try providing for example a Teddy Bear for her to suckle. This works best if your kitten is trying to suckle you when you're in bed at night. Alternatively, you can even put deterrent on your skin or hair.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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Texas
Ninjball
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Added on May 13th, 2012
My Ninja does this too. She started when she was around 5 months old. I've read this is a sign of affection when they do it. She does it when I'm laying on the couch in whatever part if me that is the smallest part of me. She also does it when I wear my fluffiest robe. It's cute, until it's my crotch or when she starts to drool. I gently put my hand between me and her mouth and she stops.
South Carolina
Zazikel
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Added on May 6th, 2010
My cat Bitty does this too, and she's almost 3 years old. She doesn't do it nearly as much as she used to, but she still does occasionally. her favorite things to suckle on are, my fuzzy blanket, and my fleece hoodie.
Illinois
Catgrl6
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Added on March 1st, 2010
I have two kittens who are 4 months old. Both are male and they are brothers. Finn suckles on Puck's ears constantly. I would like to use a deterrent spray, but is it safe to apply it to the outside of Puck's ears?
Georgia
bianca52
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Added on April 30th, 2009
My Meca suckles me everytime I put on my Brookstone Nap robe. I just wash it and have also purchased several Nap blankets for her since she loves them so much. She is two now. Is there a problem with this suckling? Do I need to break her of this habit even though I don't mind her little habit? Bianca