How Can I Stop My Kitten's Suckling?

CatChannel expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, offers an explanation and some tips to curb this behavior.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted Jan. 2, 2009, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: I have two kittens (approximately 6 ½ months old) from the same litter and they have many differences.The male kitten loves to nurse on my ears, normally when I am asleep and it wakes me up, which is annoying. I understand that this is a sign of being weaned too early, which I know is definitely not the issue; the female kitten does not nurse at all. How can I get him to quit?
Thanks in advance.

A: I’ve always found suckling behavior in kittens to be very cute, but I can certainly see how it can drive you crazy when you’re asleep. In most cases, it is indeed a sign of too-early weaning, so it is a little unusual that your cat is doing it despite (according to your letter) being weaned properly.

To get him to quit, you need to remove him from your ear the moment he starts showing any intention of nursing.  You must do this consistently so that he understands that this is not going to be allowed under any circumstances. Be gentle. After all, you don’t want to reprimand him for focusing his love and attention on you. Once you remove him from the area around your head, you need to redirect him toward a favorite fuzzy toy, and give him lots of praise when he plays with it. A simpler solution, I think, might be to put something on your ears, like a citrus-smelling perfume, before you go to bed. A few whiffs or tastes of that should quickly deter him. 

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Reader Comments

jeri    Tucson, AZ

12/7/2014 8:03:50 AM

I have a 2 yr old angora male who was taken from mom to soon and started suckling on my robe. I encourage it because it relaxes him and he is calmer, and he let's me pet him and cuddle during those time. ( once a day ) at least. I also become calm being I am chronic pain patient. It is good for both if us. If you can do it for your cat or/and you do it. I think it's a healthy bond.

Dawn    stpaul, MN

3/3/2013 9:48:40 PM

I have a 10 week old kitten named Toby we got him at 8 weeks old and he recently started suckling from my erlobes every day he purrs like crazy and seems to be soo happy I just can't bear to make him stop. After gogleing this strang behaivor I have found out its not that uncommon for kittens to do. The general consenus is that its a comfort thing and as long as you can put up with it it won't cause any harm to your kitty

Tabitha    Butler, PA

4/21/2011 4:44:27 PM

I have a male and female cat, and before I could get them fixed, they had one kitten. The kitten is almost 5months old now and she still nurses from the mother cat. Is this normal? She eats regular hard and soft cat food and drinks water, but she still nurses 5 to 6 times a day. I read that the mother probably doesn't have milk anymore, so why does my kitten do this?

E    Attleboro, MA

1/8/2009 12:04:29 AM


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