Last updated: March 2, 2017
Cats do some amazingly endearing things. They rub their cheeks against you, knead you like dough, groom you with sandpaper tongues, blink at you in slow motion and head-butt you. And they purr. What could be more appealing than that? Cats are infinitely more subtle than dogs! But they do some things that are so mysterious that they border on the bizarre. Why do they chase after balls of wool? Why do they sleep all day and wake up like vampires at night? And strangest of all, why DO they suck on blankets? Read on and find out!
The most logical reason seems to be that these are kittens who were separated too early from their mother and are constantly looking for a mother substitute, although this doesn’t hold true in every case. Kittens should never be taken away from Mommy till they are at least twelve weeks old. By this time they’re fully weaned and are eating solid food, but there are other reasons why kittens this age need to be with their siblings. They need to learn the life skills necessary for being the best cat a cat can be!
Stress seems to be a major contributor to many kitty problems. Cats don’t like change; they are creatures of habit and they like routine, so if you are, for example, introducing a new pet, bringing home a new baby, moving house or doing anything else that rocks your kitty’s little world, it will stress him out. Even things like litter tray issues may contribute to this. It may seem trivial to us, but to a little cat, it’s a big deal. Sometimes, even as adults, we humans feel like running home to Mommy for a bit of TLC! A warm soft Mommy isn’t there anymore for a tiny kitten so what’s the next best thing? A lovely warm and soft blanket!
East is East…
It’s worthwhile noting that some cat breeds are just born suckers! The Oriental breeds, for some unknown reason, seem to feel the need to suck on blankets more than your average bog-standard moggy like mine. This may be built into their DNA or related to the fact that these breeds need to be suckled for longer by their mother.
I Trust You
If you have a kitty who lies in your lap and sucks your sweater, consider yourself very lucky. Your cat is saying “I love you, I trust you, and I know you will always protect and look after me.” This is one of the many signs of kitty affection.
A very pretty name for a very worrying behavior! Pica is when cats begin to not only suck on the blankets but chew and ingest them as well. (This is what you see in some pregnant women when they crave things like coal!) In fact, they may not only do this to blankets but to all sorts of other non-digestible, non-food items – even their own cat litter. It’s particularly dangerous when they chew things like plastic bags and rubber bands. Since this may be a medical problem like anemia or an unbalanced diet, it’s best to have your kitty checked over to make sure he’s not suffering from one of those disorders. It can also be a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so your vet may feel that your cat needs a course of anti-depressants or other appropriate medication.
How to Stop It
OK, you’re not enamored by the thought of cat drool everywhere, so maybe it’s time to give kitty something to take his mind off things. If he’s under a year, the chances are good that he’ll just grow out of it.
The first thing to do is remove the offending blanket from kitty’s sight! If he can’t see it, he can’t suckle it. Sometimes this is enough to put him off forever, but there are some kitties who are so determined that nothing will stop them. Then employ diversionary tactics – (you know, like they do in the movies, starting a fire to divert attention from the bank heist!!!)
As soon as you see him getting into a pre-sucking mode, start with the distraction techniques.
Remember that the little furry feline in your home is a natural born killer, and his instincts are to pounce, jump, swat, bite, stalk and claw. He needs to be stimulated by the kind of activity that will hone these skills. Enriching his environment with toys and objects that stimulate him is one way of keeping his mind off the sucking stuff. Chew toys are good for this sort of thing, and there should be a scratching post somewhere so that he can sharpen his claws and exercise his forelimbs. If you put a fish tank in the house or a bird feeder outside his window, it will fascinate him for hours, but just make sure he can’t get his jaws around them!
To further stimulate that scheming little psyche he needs to indulge in some interactive play with you. Any cat can play on its own, and plenty of cats do, but the most important aspect of interactive play is that it takes place between the two of you. If you play like this every day your kitty’s mind will be working hard and he’ll be having a good workout at the same time. Cats need to be physically active so that they burn off all their excess energy and stay fit for all that hunting!
This is also a way for both of you to have a good time together, because you will be the one operating the laser pointer or wiggling the bit of string that looks like a snake, and he’ll be the one chasing it. Cats are meant to move – they are motion sensitive, in fact, so what you’re essentially doing is bringing out the savage hunter in them! You can also buy all sorts of cat puzzles that encourage your cat to forage for food as he would in the wild – this is a treat to watch! Try to put aside about fifteen minutes a day for a regular play session – you’ll both enjoy it and all these activities should help distract him from being a sucker!
The Last Word
My kitty doesn’t suck on my blankets, my pillows, or any part of my anatomy, although he does like to knead, claws unsheathed – ouch! I kind of wish he would, though. So my clothes will get covered in cat spit? Well, I don’t care, as long as I know that he loves me!