JustAnswer PixelPaws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My Siamese kitten keeps sucking his tail. He was only doing it when he would first wake up but I’ve now noticed him doing it a lot more — generally only in his bed or on my bed. Even if I stop him from doing it, he will just grab his tail back and continue.

~ Tara

Lynx point Siamese kitten,  CC-BY-SA by Valerius Geng

Did you know Siamese kittens are born all white and their color points start coming in when they’re about 4 weeks old. Photo: Lynx point male Siamese cat, CC-BY-SA by Valerius Geng

Siouxsie: Well, Tara, it’s not unusual for Siamese cats to develop odd suckling habits. It’s not clearly understood why Siamese and Oriental breed cats tend to have these issues more than others.

Thomas: Most vets view tail sucking as a behavior similar to a human child that sucks his thumb.

Bella: Although some humans say kittens suck their tails or other things like fabric because they were weaned too early. That’s just silly! I know lots of kittens who were weaned early and none of them suck their tails!

Siouxsie: You’re just saying that because you like to suck your tail sometimes.

Bella: I do not! But I bet you’d suck yours if you could stretch your old, creaky body that far!

Siouxsie: I’m not too creaky to come over there and smack you.

Thomas: Bella, be nice to Siouxsie. And Siouxsie, you know if you didn’t talk back to Bella, she probably wouldn’t hassle you so much.

Siouxsie: If she’d respect my authority, I wouldn’t have to grouch at her.

Bella: Nyeah!

Thomas: Bella, don’t make me come over there and swat you. Um, anyway, Tara, we really don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

Siouxsie: And neither do some well-known veterinarians. There’s a paragraph about tail sucking in Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. “Treatment is not necessary if the cat is not self-injurious,” the authors say.

Bella: On the other hand, Muller and Kirk also say that tail sucking may be a sign of boredom.

Siouxsie: Since your kitty’s tail sucking is escalating rather than diminishing, we’d recommend that you find some constructive ways to distract him so that his tail sucking doesn’t become a serious habit.

Thomas: Interactive play is very important to kittens. It helps them get all their kitteny energy out in ways that you humans don’t find obnoxious or offensive. Mama’s visited a pair of kittens who love to run around and around the house chasing a fish attached to a springy plastic cord, but any kind of “thing on a string” toy would be great.

Bella: Also, make sure your kitten has plenty of places he can hang out and survey his domain. Tall cat trees, window perches, tunnels, scratching posts and pads, and toys he can play with by himself, will give him ways to keep his mind occupied.

Siouxsie: After all, Siamese are very, very intelligent cats. I should know: my kitty mom told me that my grandmother was half Siamese on her father’s side. Purrrrr….

Bella: Braggy-pants!

Thomas: Anyway, Tara. try the toys, towers and scratchers, and play with your kitten at least twice a day: nice, long play sessions, up to 20 minutes if you need to do that.  Don’t pull his tail away from him; tempt him with an awesome toy instead.

Bella: It’s okay if you get your kitten panting, as long as your vet has given him a clean bill of health and hasn’t told you not to exercise him strenuously.

Siouxsie: Here’s some advice from Mama about how to play with your cat. (Yes, there really is a proper way to play with a cat, believe it or not.)

 Thomas: Good luck, Tara. We hope you have many wonderful years with your sweet kitten.