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Suckling Kitten

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Our new kitten seems to have just a little problem or two.....he seems to think that there are nipples in my hair and tries really hard to find them...

I have kind of figured out that he is hungry/thirsty when he does this, so I just put him by the food and he seems happy. Once he starts trying to suckle after he has had food I just tap him on the shoulder and he moves to my arm and just kneads there for a while. My concern is that I have started a bad thing here, putting him by the food when he starts to suckle. Maybe he will equate suckling with getting food from me and not figure out the "food-bowl system" on his own? Also, how often is it o.k to give the little guy cow's milk? He does drink water but I have only seen him do so a couple of times.
post #2 of 18
Do not give cow's milk - it can make them sick. They sell cat milk at pet stores.

The suckling reflex in many kittens is pretty strong. While obviously they do it when they are hungry, many kittens continue to suckle because it gives them a comforting feeling with their adoptive mom. I have older cats that still like to snuggle up with us and suckle on our tshirts, hair, blankets, etc. I never discourage it unless they are sucking on something that can be ingested. I figure they that have just transferred their trust to us.
post #3 of 18
How old is your kitten? You can set him near a stuffed animal that has no removeable parts- and let him suckle the stuffie instead. Or you can take some clean cloth, bunch it up into a small bag-type object, tie it at the top with string. Clip the ends of the string close so he won't chew the ends. Then dip the bag into a mixture of warm water and honey, and give that to him to suckle.

Suckling is a reflex that they can't help, and so tapping him is not a good idea. Simply transfer him to something he can suckle, and make sure he is getting good quality food. Even making up some kitten glop might help as it is packed in nutrients.

You can find kitten glop on this website
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
He is about 8 weeks old and very cute. He also likes to poke his nose right into ours and likes doing this at three I don't try and stop him, it seems to be the way my other kitties greeted each other.

I understand about the tapping as well, it's just that if I don't do it he doesn't stop. The first time I just left it figuring he would eventually get tired and fall asleep, no such luck though...
post #5 of 18
Again, give him something else to suckle. He is not doing this behavior to annoy you. It could be any number of things that are prompting him to do this. Tapping him, especially at this tender age, even if you are gentle could hurt him. I know, you would never want to do that! Sometimes, us big humans just don't know our own strength.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
That is so true!

I actually don't mind the suckling, my poor scalp just feels a little raw afterward and I do have eczema on my scalp so it is a bit tender as is. He is a very sweet kitten, also very needy. Luckily I am a stay@home wife so I can give him all the love and attention he needs. My baby girl though isn't sure how to handle him though. She has always been a more serious girl and he is very playful and I think she "panics" when she sees this wizzing and bounding blob come past her.

I have a small "pocket puppy" that I will give to him to suckle on, maybe this will help. Thanx you guys!
post #7 of 18
Our new fur baby Bijou does this as well. He is now 17 weeks but we got him at 8 weeks. He seems to need to do this when we get home from work after leaving him alone for several hours and if I go out to do yardwork and leave him in the house alone and also at bedtime. I believe (from my experience) that it is a comforting/security thing. He only suckles my neck and I have kitty hickies but he doesn't hurt (except for the kneading when his nails haven't been snipped) and I feel if this is what he needs, he should have it! After all, he is our baby. Our vet said one of her cats suckled her for almost a full year but finally outgrew it.

post #8 of 18
None of our cats continued to suckle when we brought them in, but they were ferals and lived with mum until they were 12 weeks old. Hissy's advice should work wonders, and this is one very lucky little guy to have such a sweet mum!

All of our cats, do, however, continue to knead. It's comforting to them, and it's comforting to us to watch. Lazlo, however, kneads on my legs when he's on my lap and I'm brushing him. As long as his claws are clipped, it doesn't hurt. I'd get into a regimine (sp?) of clipping your kitty's claws now - it'll help preserve your carpet, furniture and floors in the long run anyway, but especially if he kneads while in your lap.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
My baby boy used to knead with his full weight on the paw touching down. He somehow felt that he needed to put all his love and affection in the touching paw...LOL He used to come lie on my chest in bed and touch my face ever so softly with his one paw....I really miss him
post #10 of 18
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi there!

I found an old teddy bear for my kitten to suckle on. He starts suckling on my hair and when I lift him up and put him on the teddy he is very satisfied and suckles until he is exhausted and falls asleep. The bear is also substantially bigger than he is so I think that helps as well and it smells like me so maybe he makes the right associations.
post #12 of 18
Good job!
post #13 of 18
I also have an adult cat that I got at pound at age of 4-5 weeks. He is STILL suckling my earlobes at the his now age of about 3. Sometimes I try to discourage it. (Mainly cause I fear having my earlobes to my knees in few years!ha) Generally though I just let him cause I know that he probably was taken away from his mom too early and was never weaned in that way??? Plus I have read that its a sign of total trust and that he thinks of me as his momma cat.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
I can just imagine earlobes to the knees...

My little guy tried the earlobe once but he thought it was a game and started swatting, so that got stopped very quickly! It does sound plausible on the trust thing, my babies only knead hubby and I.
post #15 of 18
My Charlie loves to suckle in hair... he didn't do it right when we got him (at about a year of age) and he shows preference in people he will suckle on (my mum had to sleep with him shut out of her room, and now in my house my housemates don't believe me when I say he does this thing..) He just gets to the back of my head and goes at it.... but he mostly kneads, then sucks a little, then goes back to just kneading. Unless he pulls my hair, I just let him He never stays for very long, and he's declawed so the kneading feels kind of nice He'll also suckle on fleece blankets on occasion now - my kitten loves to do that, and I guess Charlie wanted to see what all the fuss was about

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
And then the discovery of goooood it feels...LOL

The teddy "sleeps" in bed with us now, he absolutely loves it. He will walk right past us and flop down on the teddy and stay there for a good fifteen minutes. By then he is so tuckered out that he falls asleep almost immediately.
post #17 of 18
Well, I see that my Spooner is normal (sometimes I wonder!!!???ha) Actually, he is only doing at night now and early morning so I think he is getting "over" it some. But to be honest, I admit that I most time enjoy the trust and love he is expressing to me and I will just sit and hold him. Makes me feel so loved sometimes cause Spooner isn't a very "lap sitting" kitty. Not that he isn't a doll but hes not as affectionate (in that way) as others I have had the joy of having. One thing that I think is cute is that when I had company from out of state, he would not suckle if they were anywhere around. I got so tickled at him, it was like he knew they would think he was too big a boy to do THAT!ha sometimes he does stuff that I just have to smile and go and give him a big ole hug! I do want to thank all of you that commented on this. By way ladies, I went outside today and there was a little (looked to be about 5 months) kitty in my yard. I have seen it before, it is a neighbors and poor thing was so hot and skinny. I went into the house and got some food and water for it. Is that the best to provide. I was going to get milk and food but thought since it was hot day, kitty could probably use water but then it doesn't have the nutrients (neighbors are not very good on taking care of their kitties.) He seemed to really enjoy water but I am sure he is lacking in the nutrients so should I have given anything else different or in addition?
post #18 of 18
It's great that you're providing food and water for this kitten who's obviously in need of some good nutrition. The kitten may be underweight because of worms, so if you can mash a little bit of worming paste in with his canned kitten food, this will go a long way to helping him. Also, you can give him something called Kitten Glop. The recipe is half-way down this page. It's easy to make, full of nutrients and yummy too. Never feed a kitten cows milk as it can cause stomach upsets.
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