My cat suckles on my arm. Advice please.

What is Happening. A Visitor’s Question.

I adopted a somewhat shy, 6-month-old kitten 4 years ago. From the time I could get her into my lap, she would suck my forearms like a Hoover. Even now, she has a go at them at times. I was told the kitten was weaned. I considered bottle feeding her to see if she actually hadn’t been but didn’t want to create a dependence (or use a cow’s milk blend) if that wasn’t the issue. I finally got her to sit on my lap at times, play & sleep with me. But she’s still shy w/others & wants to suckle. Is there something she might lack that I can provide? Thank you.

Response – What Can Be Done.

“I was told the kitten was weaned…”

Well, it seems that she was weaned too early because, as you imply, the signs are that she was not given the time to be weaned properly.

My research indicates that

“…At about a maximum of ten weeks of age kittens are weaned.”

The way I see these problems, which are very hard to resolve, is that the kitten needs to be weaned properly. I believe that all domestic cats are kept in perpetual kittenhood because we look after them so totally. This does not help resolve these issues.

Cat sucking on owner's arm
Cat sucking on owner’s arm. Pic in public domain.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

I am thinking aloud here and would welcome some comments. However, in the wild, wild kittens of all species are weaned by their mother when she brings in prey she has caught. The kittens learn to eat meat and then learn to hunt for it themselves by following mother on hunting trips. That gets them off the nipple.

What if you set up some play sessions with your cat in which she has to hunt for food? You might buy some commercially prepared raw food and use that as the prey. She might like raw food. Then again, she may not! This page has a review of a raw cat food product.

Cat sucking a blanket
Photo by brownpau

The idea would be to change her mentality and get her to grow up by tapping into what is hard-wired into the brains of all cats, wild and domestic, the desire to hunt for prey and eat flesh (meat). If that desire can be triggered it might get her away from suckling on your arm.

Sibling suckling
Sibling suckling. Screenshot.

It is almost as if from a developmental standpoint time has been arrested at about 4-7 weeks of age; a time when she was still suckling and not weaned.

In the expectation that my suggestion does not work or that you think it is crazy 😉 you could simply purchase a cat toy of some sort that she can suckle on for comfort, which is not harmful to her and which gives you a break!

Please leave a comment, yourself so we can discuss the matter further.

This page discusses the mother-kitten relationship.

11 thoughts on “My cat suckles on my arm. Advice please.”

  1. When I first adopted Tootsie at 6 yo, she would often get into bed with me, and lick my hair, especially at the top of my forehead. She would go at it for at least 10 minutes, and slobbered a lot. It was really sweet, and I really did have to stop myself from laughing. Gradually this behavior stopped, and although the slobber was not always pleasant, I kind of miss the behavior.

    I figure that she was establishing our cat- human bond, and stopped after she was confident the bond had been established. Or maybe she was just making sure that even though I was much bigger that she, I was acceptable as the other cat in the household. Cats do often? groom each other.

    From all comments above, it does seem that perhaps the cat did not go through the complete weaning process. Plus I’ve never had to deal with a cat suckling my arm or such. Still, my inclination would be just to “go with the flow” so to say, and enjoy the little cat/ “big cat” bonding- well that’s what I think is happening, but it’s just a WAG.

    • Yes, Tootsie was grooming you – called alogrooming, one cat grooms another. Bit surprised it stopped. It may have been a sign of her desire to be friends with you. When you had shown her you were a true friend and companion she felt secure enough to stop.


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