If you are asking yourself “why does my cat suck on blankets?” you may have already reached the end of your patience.
Cats are great companions, but they tend to show a lot of strange behaviors such as head bumping, bouncing off the walls and chattering. However, one behavior which stands out as extra cute is blanket sucking, especially when kittens do it.
The behavior may not be so endearing when an adult cat sucks blankets excessively. Frustrated, you may be asking, “Why does my cat suck on blankets?”
Though harmless if done in moderation, it can be irritating when you find your blankets or sweaters wet with cat drool. There is also the danger of the cat chewing and swallowing wool, which can lead to other health problems.
Some cats may go to the extent of sucking the tail of another cat or their paw. Cats may suck your fingertip or even ear lobes.
It brings us back to the question, why does my cat suck on blankets?
Below are some of reasons for this behavior:
1. Kitten is separated from mother early
Kitten who are separated early from their mother tend to show this behavior. Normally, kitten remain with their mother until they are 3 months old, which is when they are fully weaned.
You may have noticed how much the kitten enjoys sucking the blanket and how relaxed he looks while at it. The sucking action reminds your kitten of the time with his mother, a tension free period that he really enjoyed.
Wool-sucking satisfies an emotional urge, which is like a toddler sucking his thumb.
Typically, kitten grow out of blanket sucking when introduced to other food suitable for them. Some may continue the sucking for a bit longer.
2. Blanket sucking is seen in some breeds more than others
Oriental cat breeds such as Siamese and Birman cats are more likely to indulge in wool sucking than others. Birmans tend to be at a higher risk of wool sucking when weaned early and part of a small litter. Medical conditions increase the risk of wool-sucking in Siamese cats.
3. The behavior is reinforced
Cats may suck on blankets or woolen fabrics because they are being reinforced or rewarded. You may talk softly or pet your cat while he is snuggled up next you and sucking your sweater or the blanket. If this behavior is picked up as a kitten, there is a chance that it will continue into adulthood.
4. It may be an indication of ill health
Blanket sucking can also indicate a hidden health condition in your cat. You will need to consult your Vet and conduct a few tests to rule out any underlying health problems that may be triggering the behavior.
5. Your cat may be bored, stressed or anxious
Cats who are bored may take to blanket sucking.
6. Changes in their surroundings
A change in the environment such as the addition of a new pet or a new family member can stress cats out. It can trigger behaviors such as sucking a blanket.
7. Aggression among cats
If one cat becomes suddenly aggressive towards another cat in a multi-cat home, the cat at the receiving end may suck a blanket to pacify himself.
Should you be concerned about blanket sucking?
Kittens will grow out of blanket sucking behavior but if it continues beyond the age of one or increases in frequency, its best to consult your vet. It also becomes a matter of concern if it interferes with the cat’s daily routine or leads to gastric blockage from swallowing fabric.
How should you handle your cat sucking on blankets?
If you are concerned about your cat sucking blankets or fabrics, there are a few steps that you can take.
Firstly, you need to get to the root of the problem to understand what is triggering this behavior. It may be that your cat is stressed over changes in her environment or there is an ongoing issue over territory with another cat in your home or neighborhood.
Below are a few things to try:
- Get your vet’s opinion
You need to connect with your vet first to rule out a health issue that may be triggering the behavior in your cat.
- Keep blankets and fabrics out of reach
In the absence of health issues, you can try to control the behavior by cutting off access to blankets or fabrics that your cat likes to suck.
- Do not provide positive reinforcement
Do not encourage your cat to continue the behavior. You can unknowingly reinforce the behavior when you pet or talk lovingly to your cat. Also, do not punish your cat for the sucking behavior as it can lead to other behavior issues.
- Provide the right environment for your cat
Make sure that your cat has everything he needs to be happy in your home.
Provide safe places in case your cat wants to withdraw for a while, toys for your cat to play on his own, toys for your cat to play with you, scratching posts, keep your cat groomed, provide treats, keep adding new toys, provide a patch of cat grass, provide bird viewing stations by installing a cat window perch and putting up a bird feeder right outside etc.
You need to be patient while helping your cat overcome the behavior of sucking blankets. There is no need for action from your side if your cat is only sucking blankets once in a while. However, if your cat is overdoing it, you need to try and correct the behavior as it can lead to your cat swallowing wool or fabric.