I was separated from my birth mommy too early. I think that she was sick. When my human found me I was only five weeks old and I had been abandoned. So now every time I get into a “comfortable” situation (anything that makes me purr) I start drooling. Then I start licking and trying to nurse from whatever I’m licking. It started off just being the comforter that my human sleeps under (since I love to sleep in her bed!) but now I’ll lick whatever it is that’s around when I start purring. I know that these impulses are caused by the natural instincts to feel nurtured when I’m feeling good, but what can I do to stop licking every blanket in sight?
Dear Mommy’s Cat,
Humans are strange when it comes to how they feel about cats who lick and suck. Sometimes they think the habit is kittenish and cute, but eventually they start getting annoyed, which I really don’t understand—I mean, why do they coo over something one moment and then get mad at us later on for doing the very same thing? Occasionally it has to do with—as they put it—”ruining” a blanket or sweater… as if they have a better use for it than we do. You don’t say whether your human is starting to give you a hard time about your licking habit but since you wrote to me I figure that maybe she has. And of course that means the two of you need to come to an agreement. Compromise is one of the downsides of cohabitating with humans.
Hopefully your human realizes that nothing is going to stop your licking and sucking habit completely, but she can do things to keep herself happy without cramping your style too much. One thing she can do—and this is actually pretty cool—is distract you with toys when you start getting too fixated on a blanket. Most of the time playing is actually a lot more fun than licking a blanket. Or she can designate one small blanket as being yours and yours alone and gently nudge it under your mouth every time you start your licking habit. That way you’re only “destroying” one blanket, and you still get to have your little blissful moments. In a pinch, if she really doesn’t want you sucking something in particular, she can blow in your face.
I’ve heard some people recommend really nasty things, like making loud noises every time a cat displays this behavior, or spraying the cat with water, or putting bad-tasting stuff on the fabric that the cat is licking. In my opinion, these are not acceptable solutions. They are mean and show no respect for us cats. Maybe putting something bitter on an electrical cord is okay—after all, that’s for our own safety—but not when we’re in such a pleasantly comfortable and dreamy state. But of course, that’s just my own opinion.
One thing that may be a concern is your drooling. Sometimes cats who lick and suck will drool because their actions feels so good, but it could also indicate that you need to have your mouth looked at. You could be developing gingivitis or tooth decay, and if that’s the case it should be addressed. Even relatively young cats can have mouth problems, and gum diseases can lead to other serious illnesses in cats (humans too).
Lastly, be careful about getting really obsessive about your licking and sucking. While humans seem to take a lot of enjoyment in complaining about things we cats do, there are times when a habit really does get out of hand. If that is the case with you, then you may need to consult with your vet about medication. Cats will occasionally develop obsessive-compulsive disorder (I think it’s because humans drive us up a wall), and drugs actually can help.