Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I just got a kitten three weeks ago. She’s normal in every way except that sometimes she will lay down and chew or suck on her tail. Apparently she likes it — she purrs while she does it and it puts her to sleep — but I’m a little worried about it. If I take her tail away from her mouth, she wakes up and looks everywhere for it. I’m a little lost, and I’d be grateful if you could tell me what to do about this.
Siouxsie: Tail sucking is unusual, for sure, but there are plenty of cats that do it.
Thomas: Experts tend to think that the reason some cats suck on their tails is because they were weaned away from their mother’s milk too early, or because they were orphaned and didn’t have the chance to suckle on their mom at all.
Dahlia: Tail sucking provides a sense of security, just like regular nursing. You can tell it makes her happy because she purrs and relaxes into sleep while she’s nursing on her furry appendage.
Siouxsie: Your baby may get over her tail sucking behavior after a while, but it might stay with her for her entire life and manifest more often when she’s stressed.
Thomas: You don’t have to worry about your kitten’s tail sucking as long as she’s not doing it constantly and it’s not irritating her skin and causing sores to form.
Dahlia: Do keep an eye on her litterbox behavior and make sure she’s pooping normally. If she acts like she’s got an upset stomach — say, maybe her appetite is a bit “off” or she’s throwing up — she may have a hairball. Usually an over-the-counter remedy like Petromalt or Laxatone will help the hairball move smoothly through her system and get her feeling up to par again.
Siouxsie: Do check the skin on the end of her tail every day, just to make sure she’s not developing sores. With constant aggravation and sucking, these wounds could become infected pretty quickly. If her sucking gets to the point where she’s self-injuring, your vet may have some ideas about how you can keep her from going to town on her tail, at least until the wound is healed.
Thomas: We don’t think you should try and stop your baby from nursing on her tail unless the licking and sucking reaches that self-mutilation level.
Dahlia: You might want to thank your lucky stars that she’s chosen to suck on her tail rather than on your blankets or clothes. Some cats are prone to “wool-sucking” behavior, in which they suck, chew, and even eat fabric! This behavior is more common in Siamese and other Oriental breeds, but it can happen in ordinary mixed-breed cats too.
Siouxsie: If you notice that the nursing behavior seems to be escalating, your kitten may be reacting to stress in her environment. Take steps to address that stress, perhaps through bringing pheromone diffusers into your home, ensuring that she has enough horizontal and vertical territory, and introducing new pets or people slowly and carefully.
Thomas: The bottom line is that as long as your baby girl is happy and healthy, we really don’t think you have to worry about her silly but oh-so-cute habit.
Dahlia: As a testimony to just how common tail-sucking is, there are dozens of videos online showing cats of all sizes, types and ages enjoying a good, sloppy nursing session with the tip of their tails. Here’s one that we thought was especially cute:
In a reader? Watch the video here.
One of my cats would stick her tongue out and do a weird “air licking” while cross eyed. She would purr and go to sleep this way. She was taken to the vet and although weird, he said that it is a comfort thing. She wasn’t cross eyed normally and her behavior was normal besides that, so vet said let her have at it. I believe tail sucking is similar, but as others have said, please watch for irritation and sores.
I have a 12-year-old cat that sucks his tail as he’s going to sleep. He’s done it since he was a kitten. We found him and his siblings under our back porch, and their mom just disappeared. So, we ended up bringing them in at about two weeks old and bottle feeding them. Maybe that’s why he started his odd behavior. He actually started sucking the ears of his siblings, and they would get mad and swat at him. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but one day when he was trying the ear sucking thing, I showed him his tail instead. He took right to it and sucks it to this day. He’s never had a problem because of it, so what the heck. If it makes him happy, as they say.
BTW: All six kittens in the litter survived and we kept four. The other two found homes through our local shelter. I’m so proud of my little gang.
My kitten Misty will lay down and suck her tail on soft things like fuzzy blankets. we think we may have taken her to soon from her mother when we adopted her but she seems very healthy and happy! I just want to make sure that she is not hurting her self by doing this. all this info was very helpfull.
My Pitou has been suckling his tail since I got him 7 months ago.
I’d never seen this behaviour before and am still taken aback till I read all your comments. Seems although it’s unusual it is seen with many kittens. He was taken from his mother and siblings at 6 wks. but I am not concerned. He falls into a deep sleep so it’s security for him.
My kittens some times suck on my
toes and some times on there
Feet it is actually really cute and
I yeah and it tickles too.!!!
My cat sucks his tail too, as it doesn’t cause any problems like fur loss or anything like that I’m not too concerned about it and he seems to do it before he goes to sleep or sits next to me. Very cute though…
I actually have 2 (out of my 14) cats who suck their tails. I have adopted out three or four more. For 2 years we had a feral who dropped her litters in our garage. We finally managed to trap her and have her spayed. But, all of the babies who suck their tails were brought in at a very early age (2 – 4 weeks) and bottle fed. Bear (my 2 year old male) has sucked his tail since he was born. He sits on my chest and I have to hold it for him. There is no hair loss and considering his kneading and purring while he does it, it makes him happy. Dixie (my 4 year old female) sometimes jumps on the bed and wants my husband to hold her tail for her!! I figure as long as it makes them happy, no problem.
is it normal for a cat so suck another cat’s tail?
I have a 4 month old male who sucks his tail when going to sleep. I got him and his sister at 7 weeks old, who knows what they were doing before that. His tail sucking is very loud and wakes me up at night. If I take it away from him he becomes obsessed with getting it back. Drives me crazy so I have to wear ear plugs at night now. I wish he would stop but I don’t want to traumatize him by putting “bitter apple” on his tail, which I have read about people doing on other websites.
I have 2 kittens that are 11 weeks and 1 day old and there is a brother and sister(which was the runt) and the boy which I named S.J. sucks on his sister, his feet,and sometimes a furry like blanket. It is adorable but I’ve raised plenty of cats and never had one to do this,so naturally I took him to the vet to have him checked out from head to toe and the vet said absolutely nothing is wrong with him!! He has a Bob tail and his sister has no tail but I was concerned…. I even showed my vet a video that I took but there is nothing to worry about but just keep and eye on his litter box and make sure he is not gagging like, which would mean hairball. Anyways I love my babies very much!
Hi I have a kitten named shadow, he is like three months old and always sucks on the tip of his tail when he goes to sleep. one time he tried to suck on the tip of my fingers and I thought it was adorable but made me think that he misses his mother’s milk. He often lays on top of me and nibbles at my face or sleeps on my back. Other times he tries to suck at my blanket to fall asleep.
Is there any advice to help him? What should I do to get to get him to slow down if possible? Thank you.
I have a five year old male named Dobby. When I adopted him from the Humane Society they said he had been bottle fed. He only exhibits this when he sees me cover myself with a blanket or comforter. It starts with a tight circular walk near my side before plopping down to sit with his tail between his legs facing my side. As he sucks his tail he kneads my side, purrs and looks most happy. If I wrap my arm around his back he will fall asleep in about 15 minutes and stay there for hours. I don’t think it’s any different than a child sucking his thumb to self soothe.