A gray kitten asleep in a bed.
A gray kitten asleep in a bed. Photography by hamacle/Thinkstock.

Why Do Cats Suck on Blankets? 5 Reasons

Why do cats suck on blankets, clothing and other fabrics? We've uncovered a few reasons why cats suck on blankets and other household items!
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Have you ever had a cat who sucked on everything in sight? I never have, but in some ways I almost kind of wish I had. There’s something ridiculously cute about watching a cat kneading and sucking on blankets while purring his fool head off. Need proof? Check out the video below. Of course, if you live with a blanket or clothing sucker, I’m sure it’s not nearly as cute to you. If you’ve suffered from kitty spit-soaked bedding or ruined sweaters, I totally get that you’d probably trade your wool sucker for one of my feline family members. You’ve probably also wondered, “Why do cats suck on blankets?” Well, wonder no more. Here are some of the most common answers to “Why do cats suck on blankets?”

1. Kittens suck on blankets if separated too early from their mothers

This answer to “Why do cats suck on blankets?” makes sense in some Freudian way, but I’m not sure it holds water. I adopted my cat, Siouxsie, and her twin sister when they were just six weeks old because back then I didn’t know kittens should be kept with their mothers for at least eight weeks. Neither Siouxsie nor Sinéad ever sucked fabric, though. I don’t know many orphaned “bottle baby” kittens, so I don’t know if this behavior is more common for them than for other cats.

2. Certain cat breeds are more inclined to suckle blankets and similar things

Siamese and other Oriental breed cats are more likely to nurse fabric than other cats. Although there doesn’t seem to be any genetic cause for this, it’s well known that Oriental breed cats require a longer weaning period than most other cats.

3. Your cat sucking on blankets or other fabrics is a form of relaxation

Scottish Fold cat sleeping.
Why do cats suck on blankets? One reason might be to relax. Photography by Koldunov Alexey / Shutterstock.

Another answer to “Why do cats suck on blankets?” Like thumb sucking in little children, nursing wool is a behavior that provides a sense of comfort and safety. A sensitive kitten may grow up into a fabric-sucking cat because that behavior reminds her of being safe and surrounded by her mother and littermates.

4. A cat nursing on blankets, clothes or other fabrics is a demonstration of trust

If your cat takes to sitting in your lap and nursing your clothes, she’s showing you that she feels complete faith in your ability to protect her from harm. It takes a lot of concentration to nurse, and it would be hard for her to focus that intensely if she didn’t feel safe.

5. A cat may suckle blankets or other items to cope with overwhelming stress

There are, unfortunately, some negative answers to the question “Why do cats suck on blankets?” It seems counterintuitive that nursing behavior could show total trust or total freak-out anxiety, but it’s true. When a cat starts using behavior that reminds her of the safety of her kittenhood as way to comfort herself when she occasionally feels stressed, that’s cute. But when anxiety pervades every aspect of her life to the point where she’s suckling constantly in an attempt to self-soothe, that’s a problem.

What to do if your cat is sucking on blankets or other fabric

So, what should you do if your cat is suckling on blankets or other fabric and you’re concerned about it? First, you’ll need to get to the root of the stresses in her life and try to resolve them. Add vertical and horizontal territory for your cat, use interactive play as a tool to help her gain confidence. Perhaps even talk to your vet, who may prescribe a short course of anti-anxiety medication.

Tell us: Have you ever wondered “Why do cats suck blankets?” Do you think it’s cute or icky? Do you know what caused it? What, if anything, did you do about it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thumbnail: Photography by hamacle/Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2015.

About the author

Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

Read more on cat suckling and nursing on Catster.com:

122 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Suck on Blankets? 5 Reasons”

  1. Our little long-haired, gray-with-white-stripes tabby doesn’t mind when we wash her suckling blanket… Except for *while* it’s being washed. She gets anxious if she goes looking for it and it’s not there…. But the washing part doesn’t matter to her; she’ll still suckle on it once it’s taken out of the dryer. This is not to say your kitty will respond the same way but I thought I would answer with our experience!

  2. my cats were born barn cats, & we adopted them around 8 weeks from a family friend. A calico & a grey and white. the latter, Gee, started suckling on fleece blankets around 15 weeks and how that he’s a year old, he hasn’t stopped! but he’s gotten more picky; he’s picked out my duck squishmallow’s wings rather than nearly every blanket in sight. he only does it around me, and when he’s about to go to sleep or is all warm & snuggly. i find it cute but jeez, the wings of my plushy are small so he doesn’t have a lot of moving room once a part gets saturated with spit!

    1. I have two kittens, they are about 12 weeks old and my female kitten Luna suckles my Sherpa blanket but my little boy kitten Buddy tries to suckle and bite mine and my busnads wars, eyebrows, eye lids and noses. I have never seen a kitten do something like what buddy does

  3. All the cats I’ve had since being on my own have all suckled. All different breeds, whether I’ adopt a rescue or have from weaning on, there’s been that same behavior. I honestly think it’s just a comfort. I’ve done my best to ensure my cats have a safe home. I monitor their behavior, as my cat now was a rescue from a man who slapped her around to “teach her to become a hunter.”

      1. Yes!! I have 2 kittens! They both suck on their blanket! I wash it often!! It makes no difference! They still suck it!

  4. I have so many videos of my grown tabby cat biting a blanket while kneading for 30+ minutes straight (loudly purring and in trance) and is a daily occurrence lol sooo weird!

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  6. Our Persian was sold at 8 weeks to a chaotic family who sold him to us after a week. He was a very nervous kitten, but after about 3 weeks in our home he started “nursing” and kneading on whatever fleece blanket it on our bed, but only when I am there. I don’t find it “icky,” I think it’s adorable, and it’s the only time we get to hear him purr. I just wash the blankets regularly.

  7. I have a tiger-striped tabby that only does this on a blanket over the easy chair while laying on my lap – nowhere else.

  8. Someone dropped 2 brother kittens at our house. They were big enough to be taken from their mother but one has always suckled. He either has to be in my lap under my arm,I keep a throw covering on my recliner or on my bed,again under my arm. The other one has never done it. I don’t mind except he usually winds up with claws in me from being so close. He doesn’t suckle more than a few minutes. I’m just curious why one car does and the other one doesn’t

    1. Just like people all cats are different from one another. The cat you have that does suckle probably had more of an attachment to its mother than the other one had. Out of all four of my rescue cats, only two of them like to suckle even though all of them were abandoned from their mothers as kittens.

  9. I got 2 kittens(Callie is a calico persian and O’Mally a long haired white and ginger breed) from my sister when they were 3 months old and the male ginger cat(O’Mally) has ever since started sucking on my micro fleece blanket to this day(They just turned 1).He was def not taken away too soon.He does it only at night time when I am there and believe it is a sense of comfort for him.I allow him to suckle as I see it as his way to calm down and he is very sensitive(like a real toddler).He also talks to me alot(mostly screams and tantrums),but then I give the blanket and he calms down.He has his sister as a companion and enough toys and high and low ground to play and venture.The only thing that is a problem for me about it all is that he sucks so close to me that his nails penetrate my skin and he doesn’t care(lol).all in all I won’t trade my fleece sucking baby for anything in this world as it is the cutest thing I have ever seen with his ears thrown back while he sucks and kneads for mostly over an hour at a time.

  10. I just got a seven month old cat from the shelter. I don’t know when he was separated from his mother, but I know he was brought in with his siblings. He loves to nurse on a specific robe. He prefers to do it when the robe is laying on the bed, but he will still do it sometimes when I wear the robe. He did it a lot when we first got him. I think he did it so much at first to sooth himself because he was scared in a new environment with a new set of cats. He still does it occasionally (three weeks later), but usually less than once per day. He was spending upwards of 30 minutes a day nursing when he first got here and stopped hiding under the bed.

  11. Pingback: Why Do Cats Suck on Blankets? Ippesash

  12. My cat Melcome is two years old now, he still suckles on blankets only if I am with him. He will sit at my bedroom door and cry for me to go to bed so he can suckle to sleep. He needs a specific kind of fabric or he gets frustrated with it. I believe he was taken from his momma too early as he was a feral kitten. It irritated me as first but now I love it and I dont know if I could fall asleep without his doing it! It sure does catch me by surprise though when he accidentally kneads my lip or I roll over onto his saliva soaked blanket!

  13. I brought my cat Oli home (11 months old now) when she was about 2 months old and she likes to knead on my blanket whenever I bring it out for a little nap. A cute little fellow :’) I found her outside my building meowing nonstop in the cold and rain, and I planned to keep her for a week or so until I found her a new home because I already had one cat and wasn’t so sure about a second. She ended up entering my heart really quickly with her kneading and tendency to get on 3 y/o cat’s nerves despite being much smaller, the little tuxedo kitty is currently living her best life with me and her feline best friend. Truly wouldn’t trade them both for anything in the world <3

  14. I have a cute little rescue that kneads and suckles on those soft, micro-fleece throw blankets. My mom found her as a stray at around 5 weeks old. She brought the kitten over my house to show me and the kitten stayed! That was 4 years ago. She is black with green eyes, domestic short hair. I’ve had a vet tell me that she looks part Siamese. Everyone comments how petite she is and I think she may have been the runt. Even at 4 years old, she still plays like a kitten and suckles like a kitten! She will root around on the blanket and find a good spot, hold it in her mouth while kneading and turning around in a circle, twisting the blanket into a point. She is almost in a trance-like state that I affectionately refer to as “Baby Kitty Mode”. I always make sure to have a soft blanket in several areas of the house so she can get comfy and rest. I definitely think she didn’t get enough time with her mother, but I think she does this suckling when she is happy and ready for sleep.

  15. Patti Lisenbee

    All the cats I’ve had since being on my own have all suckled. All different breeds, whether I’ adopt a rescue or have from weaning on, there’s been that same behavior. I honestly think it’s just a comfort. I’ve done my best to ensure my cats have a safe home. I monitor their behavior, as my cat now was a rescue from a man who slapped her around to “teach her to become a hunter.” I literally kicked him out of my house, kept the kitten and made him sign a contract that if he wanted her back, he had to show me the proof that he had everything she needs. I ended up keeping her. She never kneads when showing her aggression, only when she’s settling down to nap. She’s even kneaded the blanket on me as I settle for sleep, then she drapes all over me and sleeps too. (she’s a Maine Coon/ Tuxedo mix, about 30 pounds of huge cat!) This behavior doesn’t worry me at all.

  16. My Georgie had a traumatic beginning. He was found with a major wound on the back of his neck and had numerous stitches that he would scratch out . We made him a turtle neck with little armholes it had several folds slouched around his neck to protect his wound. He weighed less than a pound. But he is the sweetest tiger and has his own blanky. It was a faux mink throw from my bed. He suckles on it all the time. He goes to bed when I do and goes to town on his blanky. In the morning while I am getting ready for work, he’ll stop and come over to me for a bit but then goes back to his blanky.
    When I go to work he hides in the closet or under the bed. He does not like any visitors in the house just me and his older sister Grace, a rescued long hair persian mix.

  17. My 9 yr old 20 lb. Benjamin only kneads my neck during the night! Not very pleasant,but
    He is such a sweetheart I just deal with it…he was bottle raised as was his sister,who does not
    Do this. I raised both. if it comforts the little guy,I am happy

  18. jodi – Australia

    i have only ever had cats that knead but never suck on anything like blankets etc
    I have an almost 2yo male peanut coloured tabby who is a mummys boy to me and suffers a little separation anxiety when I go out
    He is a real one for kneading before he settles comfortably and although he doesn’t do sucking behaviour he makes a funny sucking noise when he is kneading so wondering if this is similar to the sucking behaviour but he just makes the noise instead
    he is really happy with us and our other 2 cats (1 okder male and 1 younger female who is his bff) and he is so comfortable and secure with us he rolls on his back to get belly rubs and loves kitty kisses and cuddles so I don’t believe its an insecure or stress related behaviour
    if anyone has suggestions or has a cat who does the same id be curious to know why my Simba does this funny sucking noise

  19. nancy sandoval

    I had a kitty named Wedough who when I got him would fit in the palm of my hand. He was pure white and absolutely beautiful. Whenever I went to the bathroom he would scratch at the door come in sit in my lap and suckle on whatever I was wearing. It would last about 5-10 minutes and then he would jump off my lap and walk away. I always thought it was because he was taken away from his mother too soon. . . ❤️

  20. Charles Murphy

    My cat has licked plastic ( shopping bags on kitchen counters, the cases of bottled water) and newspapers since he was a kitten. Is this caused by similar actions as what’s stated here for wool fabrics and blankets – which he doesn’t suck, but loves to knead?

  21. My adopted calico, Skitter, sucks on and kneads only certain types of fabric – a soft, thick robe in particular, and a thick blanket vs. the thinner one I usually use at night. I don’t know much about her background before she became my buddy, but I don’t think she was abused. The behavior is a little weird, but not a big deal – more cute than anything else, although I do have to wash the robe more often than otherwise.

  22. I rescued 4 feral kittens with my partner when they were only 11 days old. They could barely see, had to be stimulated to urinate and defecate, and be bottle fed. They are we think European short haired cats, not commonly linked to suckling, but they all suckle whenever they are winding down from playing. There is one kitten who loves suckling and purrs his head off. But they all suckle everyday. They are currently 7 months and healthy as ever. I have kept wool away from them as I am concerned that the fibres would irritate their stomachs.

  23. I’ve had several cats in my lifetime but have never seen this behavior until our latest cat who was found abandoned under our house when she was about 4-5 weeks old. So I know she wasn’t properly weaned and have full faith that that is the reason for this behavior. It doesn’t bother me that she does it if it makes her happy but reminds me what a horrible life she could have had if we’d not taken her in. She’s such a sweet thing and we love her so much.

  24. My Leah, has done this ever since I got her, She is part bengal and Siamese. I think its adorable, and she is very content.

  25. So my 4 year old cat just recently started doing this! Which is weird because we’ve never seen him do this before. Also, I’m pregnant and he’s only started doing this since I’ve been pregnant! Do you think it’s related? It’s just an odd coincidence to me that he wouldn’t start this until now! Thanks!

    1. Hi Beth,

      Interesting! Here are a few other articles on this topic:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-nursing-on-herself-blankets-or-other-objects-should-you-worry
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/why-do-cats-knead
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cats-kneading
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cats-making-biscuits-all-about-cat-kneading

  26. They mean kittens who are separated like days old. I have fostered kittens 10 days old and they all suck blankets, specifically Sherpa ones lol.

  27. I rescued a 2 week old baby kitten onSept. 15th bottle fed. then 10 days later we found 2 abandoned kittens on the side of the interstate. They were about 2 weeks old. We bottle fed them all, gave them tons of love and space when needed. Carefully watched them and now we are noticing they continue to suckle. They all do it by the way. Mostly when it’s time for them to sleep or the time when they give their loving before sleep. It is quite precious, and I am so thankful we were the ones that stumbled upon them. I wasnt going to keep them all. Just the first but honestly my husband (who was never a cat person) has become quite attached to one of the twins. They are now part of the family. But glad to know I did a good job for them when they were abandoned, makes my heart smile. Being a surrogate mom was exhausting and sleepless but worth it in the end. ❤

  28. I rescued a cat, and based on the shelter estimate she’s 19 months now (domestic long hair). She had already had a litter before she herself was 12 months, and was removed from a hoarder/neglectful owner. She’s not traumatised at all, never skittish, but she’s taken a while to get used to human attention.
    As far as the kneading and sucking, she started doing this after buying a beautifully soft woolen blanket and she loves it, a bit odd to me at first! But now she has a ritual – every morning i make a pot of green tea, and sit on couch (part of my pre work ritual) and now she immediately jumps up, first she goes for the blanket which could be anywhere near me (not on me) then has a nap on my lap purring away.
    She was not very used to affection when i found her, so this is treasured time each day where she’s completely relaxed and so cute :)

    1. Be careful about letting them continue. Sometimes they eat the blanket when suckling, and can get blocked stomachs from the fibers stuck in their guts.

  29. I just adopted a stray that does this wool sucking thing. I’ve never seen this before nor had a male cat before. The vet thinks he’s about 5 years old. I was reading your articles on this behavior and in one it said to be concerned of they do it past the first year. He doesn’t seem stressed out, purring and playing constantly. Maybe it’s the adjustment from the streets to home life? Or another thing mentioned was maybe being taken away from his mom too soon. Should I worry because he’s older and still doing this?

    1. Hi there Lex,

      Thanks for commenting! Here is an article for more information on cat suckling:

      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-suckling

  30. We have a 4 month old kitten who was abandoned by his momma when he was only 2 weeks old. We moved into a bigger home this month and he has so much h more room to play and run with his big brother[our 4 yr old fat cat] and he us completely happy. He started this about 2 weeks after we moved and as cute as it is, my hubby hates it. What do I do to stop\limit it?

    1. Hi there Amber,

      Thanks for reaching out! Here is an article that provides more information about kitten suckling:

      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-suckling

  31. This is my second calico. She is a very active kitten who is into everything (so I would throw out activity as a way to stop it). She also suckles just like the my first calico. Her father did it and seeing as certain breeds are more prone to it I would strongly think it is more of a genetic trait. My first cat did it well into her old age. It was not about being stressed it was more of a bonding thing seeing as how I was the only person either of my cats would do that to and nighttime in bed seemed to be the common time. I believe cats have a strong connection to their kitten hood and they will play just as they would if they were kittens and I would think they might have other kitten-like habits. I don’t think the reasons “my mommy stopped breast feeding me too early” or “I am stressed” are just untested theories.

  32. One of my 2 kittens loves to suck on blankies! They’re 9 months old and got them at over 2 months from their mommy! He purrs loudly before he starts the suckling motion then falls aspleep! I think it’s quite cute, lol!

  33. My cat is the first one I have ever seen suckle on his blankie. It is the most adorable thIng I have ever seen and I allow him to do it anytime he wants. It’s crazy because my fiancée is also a suckler. He likes to suckle my neck. Just a form of kissing but also a sense of security for them.

  34. I foster kittens for a nonprofit rescue. I have had 14 kittens come through my home since I began and 12 of those kittens never suckled on inanimate objects…although I did have a 9 week old kitten amongst those 12 that tried to nurse from my dog but that was once and he was clearly hungry at the time. The latest two, which brings my total to 14, came in at 4 weeks. As with every foster, I kept them separated from my other fosters for the first few days untill everyone was comfortable and settled. So I didn’t realize these two babes were…different. Now that they have been left out to explore during the day (so I can keep a close eye on them), they’ve started yo do…odd things. I didn’t understand what these little guys were try8ng to do as they snuggled up to me. Soon enough though, I realized that they were sucking at my shirt! Because they were so young I gave them soft kitten food mixed with milk replacement pouder and a small dish of milk replacement formula, fully prepared to bottle feed them if they didn’t eat well on their own. Every time they started to Suckle, i put them in their pin with food and fresh, warm formula. They would eat and then start playing. But as soon as I picked them up to get them used to being handled, they’d latch on and suckle at my shirt! I was getting pretty frustrated and worried. The two wouldn’t eat sometimes even though they were suckling. So I prepared a bottle for them. They would drink some but go right back to suckling on my shirt! Finally I did research and found articles like this one that told me why these little guys were doing this. The little girl of the group has already stopped suckling but the boy seems to do it (and kneed at me) to put himself to sleep. If he wakes up he starts suckling again. It’s kinda really cute! Your article has really helped me out so thanks!

  35. I petted a cat earlier today when I got back home within 5mins she meowed at the door she never seen me come out of this apartment and I only got here yesterday on a holiday after she came in I let her in but had to leave for outside after awhile incase she is being looked for by her owners.
    But she came back relaxed straight away on my lap fell asleep now I’m lying on the couch now with a blanket and she has just fell back to sleep after kneading the blanket and she is on my legs ???? Is this normal behaviour for a cat I’m in shock she’s very cute and good coat and not skinny ????
    Did she just pick me for sleep over

    1. Hi Nicola,

      Here’s some additional information on cat kneading, below. As for the cat herself, we suggest asking around the neighborhood to see if she already has a home.

      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cats-kneading
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cats-making-biscuits-all-about-cat-kneading
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-nursing-on-herself-blankets-or-other-objects-should-you-worry
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/why-do-cats-knead
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-suckling

  36. we have a 4 month old kitten that run’s the house . she just started sucking on the bed spread when she comes to bed. she only sucks in the bed in the house .we travel in our motor home and she sleeps with us their but no sucking.

  37. My cat is 15 years old and still suckles. Definitely not a stress thing because she will be completely stretched out on the floor, relaxing, then sees me lay down on the sofa and will immediately join me to suckle on my robe or throw blanket.

  38. My cat is 3 years old, he has always kneads on my dressing gown, one pair of pjs, blanket on our bed, and just like a baby, if i want him to stay in one place, i put the dressing gown on the lounge, chair or anywhere, sit him on it, and he kneads it till he goes to sleep.

  39. I used to have a cat (rescued as a kitten after being dumped in a trailor park) who suckled all the hair off the tip of his tail. My vet said it was because he was taken away from mommy when he was about 5 weeks old. He eventually grew out of it.

    I now have a cat who kneads a big orange rectangle pillow (it supposed to be a cat) that lays at the head of my bed. She suckles it very rarely but only does this when I go to bed. It’s almost a ritual for her as she won’t lay down until I do. Then it’s “on with the kneading!”

  40. My little kitty, Meghan-Rose, has suckled since I adopted her at about 8 weeks old. She’s now a little over a year old. She only suckles on my pajama top while in bed. She suckles, kneads, and purrs. My jammy top is always quite wet when she is done. I really don’t mind this at all. Sometimes she suckles twice in the early hours of the morning and once in a while she won’t do it for a day. I think it’s quite sweet, really.

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