Cats are known for their quirky and sometimes odd behaviors, and one of those behaviors is blanket sucking. Some cats will suck on blankets or other soft objects, kneading them with their paws and purring contentedly. While this behavior may seem harmless, it can be concerning for pet owners who wonder why their cat is engaging in this behavior.
In this article, we will explore the reasons behind cats sucking on blankets and offer tips for how to discourage this behavior if necessary. Understanding why cats engage in blanket sucking can help pet owners provide a better and more enriching environment for their feline friends.
What is Blanket Sucking?
Blanket sucking is a behavior exhibited by some cats where they suck on blankets or other soft objects while kneading them with their paws and purring contentedly. This behavior is also known as wool sucking and can involve other soft objects such as clothing, stuffed animals, or towels. The cat may suck on the object, knead it with their paws, and often drool while doing so.
The behavior can be calming and comforting for the cat, and they may continue doing it for several minutes or longer. Blanket sucking is more commonly seen in kittens, but some adult cats can also exhibit this behavior.
Why Do Cats Suck on Blankets?
There are several reasons why cats may engage in blanket sucking. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Oral Fixation: Some cats have an oral fixation and enjoy sucking on soft objects. This behavior may have started when they were kittens and nursed on their mother’s milk.
- Stress or Anxiety: Cats that are stressed or anxious may turn to blanket sucking as a way to self-soothe. This behavior can be triggered by changes in their environment, such as a move to a new home or the introduction of a new pet.
- Comfort and Security: Sucking on a soft object can provide a sense of comfort and security for cats. This behavior can be especially common in cats that were weaned too early from their mother.
- Weaning: Kittens may suck on blankets as a way to transition from nursing to eating solid food. The behavior can continue into adulthood as a habit.
- Medical Reasons: In some cases, blanket sucking can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Cats with dental problems or gastrointestinal issues may turn to blanket sucking as a way to alleviate discomfort.
It is important to note that blanket sucking is not harmful to cats in and of itself, but it can be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Understanding the reasons behind the behavior can help pet owners provide the appropriate care and attention their cat needs.
How to Discourage Blanket Sucking
If a cat’s blanket-sucking behavior becomes excessive or problematic, there are several steps pet owners can take to discourage the behavior:
- Distract the Cat: When a cat starts sucking on a blanket, gently redirect their attention to a toy or another activity.
- Provide Alternatives: Provide your cat with soft toys or blankets that they can suck on instead of household items or bedding.
- Limit Access: Limit your cat’s access to areas with soft objects that they can suck on. For example, keep bedroom doors closed or use a crate or playpen when you are not able to supervise your cat.
- Address Underlying Issues: If the blanket-sucking behavior is related to stress or anxiety, address the underlying issues by providing a stable environment or seeking the advice of a veterinarian.
- Consult a Veterinarian: If the behavior is excessive or causing damage to the cat’s teeth or gums, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.
It is important to note that punishment is not an effective way to discourage blanket-sucking behavior, as it can increase stress and anxiety in cats. Instead, positive reinforcement and gentle redirection are the most effective ways to discourage the behavior.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
If your cat’s blanket-sucking behavior becomes excessive, or if you notice any signs of dental or gastrointestinal issues, it is important to seek veterinary care. Signs to look out for include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Changes in behavior or mood
Your veterinarian can perform a thorough physical examination, run any necessary tests, and recommend the appropriate treatment plan. In some cases, dental procedures or medications may be necessary to address the underlying issues causing the blanket-sucking behavior. Early intervention and treatment can help prevent further health issues and improve your cat’s overall well-being.
While blanket-sucking behavior in cats may seem unusual or even concerning to pet owners, it is a relatively common behavior that can have various causes. Understanding why cats suck on blankets and taking steps to discourage the behavior can help prevent damage to household items and ensure the overall health and well-being of your cat. If you have any concerns or notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or health, consult with your veterinarian for the best course of action.