Ask Dr Claire
My 5 month old kitten sucks the very end of her tail.. Started about a month ago… No fur loss, happy, content, playful.. She was found by rescue at 4 weeks – bottle fed kitten. Pocket rocket.
Given it started a month ago a hands-on examination from your local vet would be a great place to start. We need to make sure the tail is normal in structure and also there’s no skin infection, allergies etc.
If the tail is physically normal, tail sucking is usually a sign that the kitten is self soothing, and that possibly not all of their needs are being met as they would like.
We need to keep these kitties busy with lots of play and a stimulating environment.
Make sure you play with them every day – using fishing rod toys, or throwing toys for them to chase. You need to rotate the toys to keep it interesting.
Vertical space (such as perches to climb and hang out on) and hidey holes (cardboard boxes or even paper bags) can help to direct the kitten into more appropriate behaviours and away from the sucking. It’s also a great idea to feed all their meals from food dispensers. If she’s indoors only – bird feeders outside windows are a great show too!
Encouraging them to use their mouth in other ways is also great – you can moisten dry food and put it in a kitty kong, or use a little vegemite or butter. Cat grass can be good too.
It’s also a good idea to keep a record of when the sucking occurs as we may see a pattern and possibly intervene with play before it starts.
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