Why do cats suck on blankets?

Cats are known for their quirky and sometimes bizarre behaviors, and one of the most common and adorable ones is their tendency to suck on blankets. This behavior, also known as “wool sucking” or “blanket sucking”, is often seen in kittens but can also continue into adulthood. While it may seem strange to us, there are actually several reasons why cats engage in this behavior.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that cats are natural predators and have a strong instinct to nurse. When kittens are born, they rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition and comfort. This instinct to suckle is deeply ingrained in them and can continue even after they are weaned. So, when a cat sucks on a blanket, it is a way for them to fulfill this instinctual need for comfort and security.

Another reason for this behavior is that it is a self-soothing mechanism for cats. Just like humans, cats can experience stress and anxiety, and sucking on a blanket can help them relax and feel calm. This is especially common in cats who have been separated from their mothers at a young age or have experienced trauma. Sucking on a blanket can provide them with a sense of security and comfort, similar to how a child may suck on their thumb.

Moreover, some experts believe that cats may suck on blankets as a way to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their mouths, and when they suck on a blanket, they leave their scent on it. This can be a way for them to claim ownership over the blanket and feel more secure in their environment. This behavior is more common in multi-cat households where cats may feel the need to assert their dominance.

In addition to these reasons, there may also be medical explanations for why cats suck on blankets. Some cats may have a condition called pica, which is a compulsive behavior of eating non-food items. This can be caused by a nutritional deficiency or an underlying health issue. In such cases, sucking on blankets may be a way for cats to fulfill their urge to eat non-food items.

It is also worth noting that not all cats suck on blankets. Some may knead or “make biscuits” on blankets, which is a similar behavior that is also seen in kittens when they nurse. This behavior is a sign of contentment and is often seen in cats who are happy and relaxed.

While cats sucking on blankets may seem harmless, it is important to monitor this behavior and make sure it does not become excessive. If a cat is sucking on blankets to the point of causing damage or if it is accompanied by other concerning behaviors, it is best to consult a veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical issues and provide guidance on how to manage the behavior.

In conclusion, cats suck on blankets for a variety of reasons, including fulfilling their instinct to nurse, self-soothing, marking their territory, and potential medical issues. It is a natural and common behavior, and as long as it is not excessive or causing harm, there is no need to be concerned. As cat owners, it is important to understand and accept our feline friends’ quirky behaviors and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment to express themselves.