You may have already observed your cat adopt this strange behavior: as soon as it has the opportunity, it sucks or chews on fabrics, preferably wool. It can be clothes, blankets, shoelaces or even rugs. And sometimes it even flips over your hair! But why does it act like this?
1. Early weaning
It’s normal for kittens to explore their surroundings with their mouths. They may therefore start suckling, licking or chewing tissues but stop this behavior once they have reached adulthood.
On the other hand, kittens that have been weaned from their mother too early, that is to say before 12 weeks, can continue to do so, even once they have become adults. Indeed, the soft and warm sensation of the blanket replaces that of the mother and the kitten then instinctively begins to suckle.
Certain breeds of cats are genetically predisposed to this type of behavior. This is particularly the case of the Siamese or the Burmese. In this case, there is no need to worry. Furthermore, it would seem that the Oriental breeds require more time to be fully weaned.
Pica is an eating disorder that causes affected cats to eat inedible things, such as objects, feces or even human hair.
So, if your cat swallows bits of blanket or fabric that it chews on, it may be suffering from pica. But this syndrome can also be associated with a poor diet or an illness, such as a brain tumor or leukemia. Either way, a visit to the vet is in order.
If your cat is the sensitive and stressed type, it’s quite possible that it’ll start sucking on the blankets. The reason? This gives them a sense of comfort and security. Indeed, it finds the feeling of well-being it felt when it was surrounded by their mother and their brothers and sisters and thus manages to calm down. A bit like children who suck their thumbs, in short.
Thus, if your cat only sucks the covers in stressful situations (moving house, arrival of a new animal, poor living conditions, etc.), it is because it is trying to calm down.
A cat that is bored all day and lacks physical and mental stimulation may tend to chew on its stuff, just like dogs. In this case, a change of pace is to be expected.