Join our friendly cat community

My kitten has a suckling habit!

Reader's question: My four-month-old kitten uses my dressing gown to suckle on. She began doing this a few days after we got her. She will crawl into the crook of my arm, latch onto the sleeve with her mouth and begin to suckle while flexing her paws like a newborn kitten.

I have tried to discourage her by not giving her access to my dressing gown for several weeks. Washing the dressing gown has not helped either; she still behaves in the same way towards it. Will she grow out of this behaviour?

Behaviourist Francesca Riccomini suggests: Suckling of material is not uncommon and is thought by many to be a kitten habit that persists into adulthood in cats that have been weaned early and/or abruptly.

Fabrics that are soft and textured are often targets, as are other cats, human hair and earlobes. There is rarely any problem connected with this habit and yes it can continue, although it does tend to become less frequent as cats mature and develop into adults.

If this really upsets you, keep your dressing gown and any similar material items out of her reach - but as it may bring comfort to your kitten, why not let her carry on? As long as your kitten isn't ingesting any material, this habit isn't doing her any harm. If you suspect your cat is ingesting any of the material, remove the dressing down from her environment as this could pose a serious health risk.

Some cats and kittens will chew paper and other non-food items, which can become a dangerous habit - read our advice on cats that chew non-food items.

You may also like to read:

How can I help my teething kitten?

How to litter train your kitten

Why is my kitten a fussy eater?

What do I need to buy for my kitten?

Why won't my kitten stop crying? 


Pick up a copy of The Your Cat Kitten Guide for expert advice about kitten ownership. If you're adopting a pedigree kitten of giving a rescue kitten the chance to have a happy life, this guide will lead you through the process of choosing a kitten, preparing your home, providing the perfect diet for healthy growth and understanding your kitten's behaviour. Buy a copy of The Your Cat Kitten Guide for just £5.99.