It’s such a comforting feeling when a beloved kitty starts making “biscuits” on our lap or on blankets. It gives us warm fuzzies. And we generally believe that cats are expressing contentment when they do this. Perhaps this is their way of remembering the warmth and comfort of their mama, especially while kneading and sucking on a warm and comfortable blanket.
But why do some cats like to suck on blankets?
Video above via @cats.making.biscuits
Well, Tracey L. Kelley, writing for Daily Paws, has found four reasons why our cats love to do this. Like us, cats are complicated creatures. She decided to talk to Dr. Leslie Sinn, CPDT-KA, DVM, DACVB, a certified veterinary behaviorist. Dr. Sinn is the owner of Behavior Solutions and is also a member of the Daily Paws advisory board.
Dr. Sinn notes that companion animal specialists are still mystified about why some cats suck on blankets. Apparently, it’s not a common behavior in cats. But there are at least four theories as to why our kitties do this.
Video via @officialfiggy
Possible Reasons Why Cats Suck On Blankets.
- It’s comforting. Kneading and suckling on a soft, warm blanket may well remind a cat of her mother, especially if she was separated from her mom too early, Sinn says.
“Our assumption is that it’s an oral behavior left over from kittenhood and has some sort of a self-soothing function,” she add. “But we don’t know for sure.”
This behavior may be more common in cats who became orphans early on.
“The thought is that deprivation of some sort brings out this infantile-like behavior to be retained,” she says.
Video via @boomerpg
- Anxiety. Kneading and suckling blankets may be your kitty’s way of relieving stress. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, this behavior is more prevalent among some cat breeds, like Siamese, Burmese, and Birmans. This “suggests a genetic predisposition comparable to obsessive-compulsive disorders in humans.” It also might be your cat’s way of coping with separation anxiety.
- Gastrointestinal problems. “Sucking, chewing, and/or eating non-food items may be a sign of gastrointestinal distress such as food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, obstruction, or other problems,” Sinn notes. It’s a good idea to ask your kitty’s veterinary team for a thorough examination to check for underlying medical issues, along with a general assessment to make sure she’s receiving the nutrition she needs and that she’s in good shape healthwise.
- Boredom. Cats use a variety of ways to communicate with us — like meowing at night, for instance, or following us around. Of course, your cat isn’t deliberately suckling on a blanket to grab your attention, she may still be trying to tell you something. If she sucks on blankets, wool, or even your clothing, she may be asking for something.
Video by Happy Cats:
“Many of our cats are kept indoors and have little to occupy their time,” Sinn notes. “Pet parents should make sure that their emotional needs are being met through exercise and fun interactions.” And Cornell recommends interactive toys, food bowls, and multi-level cat condos to keep your cat interested and active.
Playtime For You And Your Kitty
If you’re trying to get a better handle on why your kitty likes to suck on blankets, keeping a journal might bring better understanding, Sinn says. Keep a record of when you find your cat doing this. is she doing this mostly at night or when you leave for work? Does she prefer to do this before or after meals, or maybe when you’re both snuggling in front of the television? Keep an eye on your furbaby for a couple of weeks so that you and your vet can determine if there’s anything worrisome about this or if this is your kitty just being your kitty.
Video by Cleo the Aby:
Can Sucking On Blankets Be Harmful?
The short answer is no unless there’s a more serious problem.
“Where problems arise is if the cat starts to chew on and/or ingest the item, then it can lead to GI (gastrointestinal) upset and/or obstruction,” Sinn says.
Sometimes cats develop a condition known as pica, where they ingest fabric or other non-food items, something that could lead to trouble. Studies have shown that cats who develop pica could be displaying symptoms of an underlying disease, like leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). That’s why it’s important to discuss this with your vet.
Video by Lion Country Safari:
If your kitty gets the all-clear from your vet, there’s no reason to stop her from doing this. Especially if it’s something she enjoys. Even her big cat brothers and sisters love to make biscuits. Just consider the reasons she’s doing this and address them as you go along. Sinn also recommends reading the book Decoding Your Cat, from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
There’s something lovely about our cats when they cuddle purring with us and make biscuits, and really, it’s just extra cute when they suckle blankets or their favorite toys. Or even our clothes. If that isn’t a show of affection, I don’t know what is.
Featured image: Cat kneading and sucking blanket by Watchduck via Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 4.0)