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Kneeding and suckling

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Im just curious as to what this means for a cat? On some occations, Kisa May will curl up on me or on my bed when Im in it (sometimes) curl up, kneed and suck on her back toe.
Is this an insecurity issue or just a sign of comfort?
post #2 of 15
It's a sort of regression to kittenhood - it's something that many cats find comforting in a completely benign and harmless half-asleep half-awake 'I'm in my comfort zone' kind of way, while with some insecure individuals it can be a neurotic or obsessive behaviour that is indulged in to the point of making themselves bald and raw. Suckling into adulthood is something that is often seen in cats that were separated from their mum too young, or were orphaned.

I have 3 cats and their behaviour and background varies:

Radar - separated from his mum a bit too young at 8 weeks old but was weaned by her - kneads and suckles fingers

Sonic - separated from mum at an emotionally and developmentally healthy age of 13 weeks, raised by her normally - doesn't knead or suckle at all

Jacob - bottle fed from birth and weaned by human mum, but raised with other cats and not separated from his mum - kneads frantically and sometimes painfully! but doesn't suckle
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I did get Kisa May from a lady I knew and I dunno if I got her too young, which could be why she's aggressive sometimes. She does'nt suckle to the point of being raw (since I move and she leaves or the dog scares her)
Thou I think she does suckle vigirosly because I can hear her.
post #4 of 15
As long as she doesn't suckle herself raw, she's fine

Our 3 girls:

Stumpy: Adopted her at 7 months old, she'd been hit by a car, and was pregnant, but lost her babies in the accident

Lily: Adopted at 3 months old, very shy and frightened, possibly semi-feral

Smudge: Fostered/adopted by us at about 4 weeks old, very sickly, but human reared

When we first got Lily, she comfort suckled off Stumpy, even though she was too old for that, and wasn't getting any milk. Stumpy didn't mind, and it helped Lily. Lily grew out of it within about a month or so.

Smudge we think was found at about 2 weeks old, bottle fed for 2 weeks, then dropped at the shelter where we took her. Despite being raised by people from almost birth, she's not a suckler. She used to nibble and almost "kiss" DH's nose, but she grew out of it.

How old is Kisa May?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Kisa is about...I wanna say 3-4 maybe.
post #6 of 15
Chloe sucks/kneads on soft blankets. She's done this ever since I adopted her at 3 months old (she's now 6 1/2 months old). She was weaned too early (orphaned by her stray mom) and had to be bottle fed. Cats who are bottle fed and/or weaned too young often develop this behavior. It's sort of like a child sucking their thumb.

Nothing wrong with it. I love that Chloe does it because I can almost instantly get her to calm down by setting her on "her" blanket.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ohh, okay. Thanks guys.
I was just curious because, even as a baby, Kisa was always tempermental and aggresive at times. We got her fixed, thinking it would calm her, and all she got was pudgy
She still seems angry but is getting a bit better. She's not a cuddly cat and does'nt like to be petted for a long time. So I was thinking that the suckling and kneeding was something to do with her being a mean kitty.
post #8 of 15
Good topic. Shania does this at night when I'm in bed. She jumps up on the bed, puts her hind paws on my leg, grabs the blanket in her mouth and pulls back on the blanket while kneeding with all 4 paws, purring and mewing loudly.

I was told either she is having "relations" with the covers going into false heat, or she was taken away from her mom too early and either way her behaviour is normal.
post #9 of 15
Sounds like a comfort thing in her case.

After five years, two of our six are kind of cuddly. Spooky and Shelly loved to be petted and fussed over - the rest enjoy pets from time to time, and all of them but one love to be brushed. Tuxedo used to be able to stand exactly one pet on his check. Four years later, he enjoys being stroked on his cheek for up to 10 minutes. Try to pet him anywhere else and get a paw on your hand - or a bite (no pressure though).

Cats are just really individual when it comes to being cuddly or being petted.

Ming Loy LOVES to play - but it was like over a year before her purr motor ever got going! She has a sheepskin she lies on and buries her face into, suckles on the wool and kneads and paddles away. But it's been 3 1/2 years, and she only just started enjoying pets. And she's never been particularly nice to use or the other kitties - except when playing. She is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy. And she recently started sleeping on the end of the bed. But give her any attention while she's there - and she leaves for her sheepskin.

Things you can do to help your kitty be happier to have you around?

Try Feliway spray or plug-ins. This is a "scent" (to cats - people can't smell it) based on the hormone that is the "friendly" marker in cats' cheeks. It helps promote a happier atmosphere from kitties' perspectives. It might make her less aggressive.

You can also get a couple of t-shirts really good and sweaty. Put one under her food dish - and put one out for her at a very regular time each day with some treats on it. This will help her come to associate you with something she loves (not that she doesn't love you already).

post #10 of 15
Oh yes, my kitty does that now with her special fleece blanket. It has often been said that this is due to a cat being weaned too early but I don't quite get it. I have bottle fed my Lucy Belle since she's 4 or 5 days old. Her time spent with her furmom is really very short compared to other kittens. When she was still abandoned in the basement, before I brought her home, I rarely see her furmom. I mean, she must have been feeding the babies or else, they won't survive till day four/five.

So, my point being, since I've been bottle feeding her, is it possible for her to still remember sucking on her furmom's teat? Even for such a short period of time? And now that she is 18 weeks old, she started the sucking and kneading and all because she did it when she was days old?

Hmmm...just find it quite hard to believe but I don't really know why they suck and knead, at least not in my case though.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Just that since she started sucking and kneading her fleece blanket, I find it really cute to watch. I am sure she loves doing that too, the look on her face pure contentment.
post #11 of 15
I haven't found any relation between suckling and kneading and a kitty being weaned too soon. I think some just find it comforting - like someone else pointed out, like a kid sucking a thumb.

And yes - I love that expression of pure contentment. It's so blissful!

post #12 of 15
it's an interesting one because my rb cat sinbad, who was hand reared from 1 week old, never suckled and rarely kneaded. when he did it was very softly. his sister maisie was extremely cuddly but never suckled or kneaded.

tabitha, who was too young to leave mum at 7 weeks but the owner decided mum had had enough of the kittens , still at the grand age of 8, suckles on a daily basis.

shinobi, who i assume was reared by mum, he's a rescue so have no history on his babyhood, never suckles or kneads.

milo, reared by mum until 8 weeks old, will climb onto my shoulders and literally drool all down my neck! it pours out of his mouth! he kneads my neck, painfully sometimes and gets this look of absolute bliss on his face!

my rb cats janet, daisy and thomas, all with different starts in life never kneaded or suckled.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Really interesting points of views. Guess we'll never really know why felines do this, could be comfort, weened too early or maybe even a mix of both.

LDG: I'll see if I can find some Feliway, Im sure it'll improve Kisa's behavior. Thanks for the tip.
post #14 of 15
This is a very interesting thread.

Nova kneads on me- usually my belly or my arms.
post #15 of 15
i had a boy named boo, he used to suckle and knead his face at the same time. ouch!!
he grew out of it though and he was taken from his mum too early.
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