Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)/Nursing cats

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Question
I have two male kittens (brothers) who are nine months old. They both nurse on blankets near me or on my clothes like little kittens would do with their mommy cats. They suck and their paws knead. I adopted them when they were 11 weeks old and before that they were with their mommy cat the entire time. They are very well behaved otherwise and I am not sure if I am stunting them in any way by allowing them to continue doing this. I feel like they are too old to be doing this and don't know how to stop the behavior. They also love to do it when I'm trying to sleep and it keeps me up/wakes me up several times a night. Not sure what to do! Thank you for your response!

Answer
Hi Emily,
Thank you for writing in. Kneading is a sign of contentment.
If they are suckling objects it is because of the traumatic event of being separated from the queen before proper weaning period. If someone told you they were with their mom and actually still suckling until 11 weeks i would be inclined to tell you the person or shelter is not giving you accurate information.
It is a personal choice if you want to try to stop the behavior. The only reason i would personally stop it is if they are swallowing, chewing or develop pica. Otherwise it is harmless...

Swallowing and pica are concerns, but suckling is just a symptom of this trend going on in the USA, to separate them from the queen and stop them from nursing at a very early age.
Imagine doing that to a human child=lots of oral fixation and reverberations will exist throughout their life. They are also mammals and need their mother for the full weaning period..Your kittens are exhibiting the classic sign/symptom that this is what happened to them.

Perhaps if they were truly with mom until 11 weeks- then she rejected their suckling prematurely.

Were they from a breeder? Then you can ask the breeder.

Cats calm down as they age- not sure if they are waking you bc of the suckling? or activity? I would keep them out of the bedroom at night then.

If you need a behavior modification plan bc you are worried that they will start chewing and swallowing foreign objects-we would have to work in detail, My site is www.theadvocat.org. Fees are listed on site.
But as they are doing this - they are showing contentment-they have just been traumatized and this is one of the few manifestations of what happens from not having kittens nursing until the proper age.

Every happy cat no matter what age they were with mother until, will knead even a 24 year old cat- this is a sign of contentment- do not stop this behavior. Laboratory cats don't knead because of the constant stress and torture they are exposed, too..
So it is a good sign that they knead :)
Keep them active all day- and they may sleep 6 hours through the night - but again as they age- they will calm down. That won't start to really calm down until 3 though.. And generally a kitty over 6 can sleep through the night if given adequate stimulation and play time and/or is indoor/outdoor with adequate play time stimulation. You have to get them on a diurnal schedule..
You have late aged teenagers on your hands...The world is a place of discovery and excitement..

Best of luck,
Shanti

Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)

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