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Dr. Joey
Dr. Joey, Board Certified
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4695
Experience:  15 yrs in practice, specialist canine/feline medicine
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I was given a rescue kitten. I had lost a beautiful 15 yr.

Customer Question

I was given a rescue kitten for Christmas. I had lost a beautiful 15 yr. old Himalayan
cat two years before. This kitten was 13 weeks at that time. She incesently tries to
"nurse" on any part of my skin she can find. Nothing deters her. It's driving me
crazy.
Also, she's a "play" biter. How do I stop that? This was not a trait of my Himalayan cat,
at all ! I feel like I'm raising a baby raccoon !!!!
Signed: "older woman who is very tired of this behavior"
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Joey replied 10 months ago.

Hello I am Dr. Joey. Thanks for trusting me to help you and your pet today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 16 years of experience. I look forward to working with you.

First, for the suckling behavior while this may actually improve to some degree on its own as the kitten gets older, it may not. The behavior can be self-rewarding, which means it may persist without some intervention on your part. I recommend you direct the cat to a more appropriate item to lick or chew on (such as kitten food inside a kitty kong toy or other cat toy).Hopefully, you can read the signs before the suckling actually starts. That means you can try to head off the behavior before it starts. You could simply walk away before the suckling starts. Play might be a useful distractor, if you can start it before the suckling starts, but I suspect redirection to a different toy to lick will be more effective.

For play biting, this can be a very tough issue but there are some things you can try. Since the behavior is probably likely related to play biting, then providing alternative forms of play, and avoiding punishment of the behavior (which might increase aggressive play or make the kitten more fearful and defensive) is probably the best. Perhaps, Feliway diffuser to help calm the kitten if you suspect anxiety (but not likely).The most important for this is some of what we call environmental enrichment to keep her active and mentally engaged in her environment and therefore less likely to want to chew on you (here is a great place where enrichment is covered nicely is at the ohio state indoor cat initiative: http://www.indoorcat.org/). Puzzle toys are great. Offering more stimulation in the form of climbing, exploration and object play (e.g. boxes and batting toys) and giving multiple small meals in foraging toys may help to better keep her occupied. I hate to mention this but sometimes a second playful cat can help matters if the cats are compatible.

I am at a point I need to know what questions you have. I hope that the information I provided has been helpful.

Please let me know if for any reason you need further clarification, have more questions, or were expecting a different type of answer.

If you received all the information you needed, then kindly submit a rating.

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