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ShiningToast's avatar

How can I keep young kittens from suckling on each other's genitals?

Asked by ShiningToast (2091 points ) April 21st, 2010

I guess it is just baby animal week for me.

My girlfriend found 3 small kittens on the side of her grandmother’s house. We left them there, in case mom came back. A few days later, mom still didn’t come back, so she took them home.

The vet says that they’re ~3 weeks old, so we can start weaning them this week. The problem is, they keep suckling on each other’s genitals. How can I keep them from doing that? Kitten pants?

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27 Answers

syz's avatar

You can’t, you just have to separate them.

I’ve raised >100 kittens over the years, and the ones that are orally fixated just can’t be stopped. (I even tried a doomed but hilarious experiment where I sewed bottle nipples on to a teddy bear in the hopes that they would latch on to it. No luck, but it was very funny in a vaguely kinky sort of way.)

AmorVincitOmnia's avatar

They will do this in a feral situation as well. There’s not much you can do unless you have time to sit and monitor their behavior and it’s not harming them. Otherwise, let them do their thing.

syz's avatar

@AmorVincitOmnia I disagree. I’ve had to have reconstructive surgery done on a little male who basically had his penis eroded by his siblings.

njnyjobs's avatar

Keep them well fed and they woudln’t be instinctively going down looking for their mother’s teets.

syz's avatar

@njnyjobs It’s not influenced by their nutritional status. Kittens on the mother spend a lot of time nursing. Bottle fed babies receive the food in a much, much faster method and so don’t get the sensory feedback that they normally would. It’s a comfort thing – many hand raised cats still suck on items as adults (their owner’s ear lobes, favorite blankets, his own forearm in the case of one of my own cats).

njnyjobs's avatar

when the kittens are weaned and hand fed, their brains will develop the notion that the present actions are the norm. If it is consistent, they will quickly overcome the need for suckling or nursing.

dpworkin's avatar

Why do you care? Are you a kitty prude?

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@dpworkin ShiningToast is serious my friend.

ShiningToast's avatar

@dpworkin Read @syz ‘s 2nd post.

andrew's avatar

@syz So does that explain the kneading/suckling of plush blankets that I’ve seen my cats do?

syz's avatar

@andrew Yep. They usually do it when they’re relaxed and happy, like when they were a kitten suckling on their mother (if you’ll forgive the possible anthropomorphizing).

deni's avatar

kitten pants LOL :)

Trillian's avatar

@syz Ok, I can see this and how the happy, relaxed kneading works. What about when they “fluff” you really fast with a set look on their faces and they refuse to acknowledge that they are doing it or even to acknowledge that they are there in the room with you?

syz's avatar

@Trillian “fluff” you?

Trillian's avatar

@syz It’s like kneading only a lot faster without all the sensory, whole paw a bit at a time thing.

SeventhSense's avatar

Ummm….uhh…he he.

syz's avatar

Ahhh. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re experiencing Alpha, Theta and Gamma – the relaxation and meditation brain waves.. Actually, I’m only being partly facetious. They do seem to be going into some sort of fugue state when they really get rolling. I doubt if anyone can say for sure.

jazmina88's avatar

a kittygasm…... much better than all that howling.

laureth's avatar

This question may also be of interest to the question asker here.

I am a little bit appalled by the selection of words and phrases I had to type into the search box to re-find it, too.

gailcalled's avatar

Milo kneads and sucks on an old cashmere sweater that I have donated to the Milo fund. It is very odd to watch. And he sneers at polyester, cotton and merino wool.

Factotum's avatar

God’s eternal wrath shall be visited on these fornicating kittens and they shall burn in furry torment in a mouse-less hell!

nisse's avatar

Use itsy bitsy condoms.

gailcalled's avatar

^^: Syz wrote: I disagree. I’ve had to have reconstructive surgery done on a little male who basically had his penis eroded by his siblings.

That is shocking to me and would preclude jokes(even funny ones). The younger generation needs useful info and not nonsense.

Tryingtohelp's avatar

I have the same problem with one of our foster kittens. He is suckling his brother’s penis mercilessly. Someone suggested putting lemon juice or vinegar where he is sucking. It didn’t work for me, but they said it worked for them. Worth a try.

imkaren4u's avatar

I plan to try bitter apple to discourage this.

tigress3681's avatar

Your best bet, break the kittens up. Find them separate homes or keep them in different boxes.

Animal_Birth_Control_Inc's avatar

While this is a natural behavior, it can be deadly. I am a member of a animal rescue group, and have had more then a few cases like this. This is common in kittens who are seperated from there mothers at an early age. The kittens may still be hungry if they are attempting to nurse, or they just feel a sense of comfort when they are nursing. This behavior can usually be stopped by seperating the kittens for a short time, (one to two weeks) Some rare cases may require longer periods of seperation. Bitter apple spray can be used, (your local pet store should have it in the cat isle) you can spray it on a cotton ball and dab generously on the genitals. Some kittens, if determined enough, will still attempt to nurse even with the bitter apple spray. Cats are creatures of routine. If you see a kitten attempting to nurse, (if not hungry) try distracting him/her with a toy. It is important not to reinforce the bad behavior. While it may seem the only harm is inflamed genitails, the problems usually lead to more deadly results. The genitals can becomed inflamed, causing pain while trying to urinate, and even infection. For males, there penis will actually fall off, requiring expensive surgery, and in most cases surgery is not an option, thus leading to death. So seperation is the answer for any nursing
on genitals. Good luck to all. Neuter and spay it“s the kindest way! (for animal birth control, to help stop the growing numbers of stray and abandoned animals)

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