My adult cat kneads and sucks on my blanket like a kitten. Why?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

You might agree with this:

A kitten looks cute while suckling/kneading on a blanket.

Whereas when an adult cat does this, it’s a really weird sight. It seems like your cat did not grow up properly or has a mental disorder.

So why does your adult cat suck and kneads on a blanket?

Well there is nothing to worry about as this is just because of some mental issues that your cat is facing. This behavior might indicate a lot of things:

  • Your cat is stressed and is trying to relieve itself
  • Sucking and kneading on a blanket reminds it of its mother.
  • Your cat is showing that it trusts and loves you.

But surely you want more explanation.

Because you want to learn what to do when your cat sucks on a blanket and what are the possible health risks for your cat.

So keep reading to find out!

Causes of blanket suckling/kneading

1. Relaxation

Sucking and kneading on a blanket provides cats with a sense of comfort and they feel more safe and relaxed by doing this. This is just like the thumb sucking behavior of a human child.

2. Reminder of kittenhood

Cats might still do this if they were taken away from their mothers when they were too young. Sucking and kneading on a blanket reminds them of when they used to nurse with their mother.

The warm memory of its mother also relaxes the cat.

3. Expression of trust

If your cat sits on your lap and kneads or sucks or your clothes, it means that your cat feels safe around you.

This indicates that your pet is very comfortable with you.

4. Breed

Cats from some certain breeds like Balinese, Siamese, and Tonkinese are more likely to adapt this behavior.

These types are from an Oriental breed and they have a longer period of suckling than most other cats.  

5. Relieve from stress

As told before, this behavior is very relaxing for cats. If your cat is facing anxiety or stress, then it is more likely for your cat to adopt this behavior.

This might be a problem as it might be that your cat is very stressed. It is so intense that your cat now wants to self-soothe. And so it starts suckling and kneading on a blanket.

The reason for being stressed can be like a death of a feline or human friend. Or your cat might get stressed by aggression and start taking it out on the blanket or any other piece of cloth.

Is kneading safe for cats?

There are no health risks for your cat as long as it does not swallows the fabric or wool. The wool may cause blockage in the throat and choke your cat. And some materials can cause vomiting as well.

Also, this habit might develop and your cat might start kneading on your lap. The cat kneads on its owner’s lap to show love and does this when it is feeling happy.

But sometimes that kneading can become intense and the cat’s kneading on your lap might leave your skin badly scratched.

But other than that, there is no harm for your cat in kneading and suckling on a blanket.

It is preferred that you should not stop your cat from doing this as kneading and sucking relaxes the cat.

As told before, cats do this sometimes to relieve themselves from stress. So when you force it not to suckle and knead on a blanket, you can make things worse for your cat’s mental health.

How to stop your cat from kneading and suckling

Now:

This habit might evolve and your cat can become more compulsive. Your cat might start hurting you while sucking and kneading and might start suckling and kneading on a dangerous object.

There are some safe ways by which you can stop your cat from this behavior:

1. Remove boredom

Play with your cat as much as you can. Removing boredom and distracting your pet is the first thing to try to stop it.

Play games with your cat regularly. Hide and seek, food puzzles and laser chasing are some examples of games that you can play with your cat.

Watch this video to learn how to play with your cat:

2. Provide an alternative

Try giving an alternative substance for your cat to knead/suck on. It can be a rubber toy that is large enough so your cat won’t swallow it.  A teddy bear might do the trick.

Also, when you give the alternative to your cat, try to keep your cat away from the cloth or blanket it normally chews on. Or keep your cat out of the room of the thing that your cat chews on.

3. Relieve the stress

If any other method does not apply, then it might be that your cat is just stressed and has got some mental issues.

Try to find the source of stress for your cat and eliminate it. It might be that your cat is stressed because of being shifted to a new home, has faced a loss of a loved one or is irritated because of a noisy environment.

In this case, try to eliminate the source of stress or make the cat feel as comfortable and loved as possible.

If you have other pets, try to have everything including the sleeping place, the litter box and the source of water separate for every pet.

To relieve the stress of your cat, you need to give it extra attention and increase the playtime.

4. Find a companion

Sometimes your cat can get stressed by the presence of other cats or pets because cats are territorial.

But sometimes, getting a feline companion can help relieve the stress for your cat. Playing with other cats will certainly help in eliminating your cat’s anxiety and stress.

5. Consult a vet

Here’s the worst part:

If you tried everything above and nothing seemed to help, then talk to a vet who is specialized in cat behavior.

The vet will decide if there is a need for medication or not.

The vet will then give some antidepressant medicines like gabapentin and buspirone. The medications might not be too expensive but it is still a slight risk of the side effects of the medication.

Related Questions

 Why do male cats knead?

There are several reasons for cats to do this. It might be because the cat feels safer and secure with you or is kneading on you just to calm itself down. Or it might just be marking you with scent as cats normally do. But this kneading can become a problem when it becomes compulsive and may even cause your male cat to become more aggressive.

Why does my cat bite me gently?

This is a sign for cats to show affection to you. Cat behavior experts say that cats do this in the remembrance of the time when they used to nurse on their mother. Do not worry as these gentle bites won’t hurt your skin and just know that your cat loves you.

Do cats like to be held?

Cats appreciate your every action that shows your affection to them. So as long as you are not too harsh and are holding your cat correctly, we can say that your cat would like to be held. This also helps in strengthening the relationship between you and your cat.

What does it mean when a cat licks you?

Cats lick you to show their affection. They do this to calm themselves. And this is the reminder for them when their mother used to groom them so they are teaching you to groom yourself by licking you.

Conclusion

Cats are very innocent and such types of actions as suckling or kneading on a blanket are cute to look at.

There is no need for you to stop your cat if it does this only occasionally.

Sometimes you are just over-thinking and worrying too much about your cat. So just relax and enjoy your life with your cute little fluff-ball!

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