Question: I have recently adopted a 6 month of kitten. I have no idea of his situation before I adopted him but he’s sweet and friendly. My concern is that he has a weird habit of sucking the skin on his leg when he is tired. If I make him stop, he tried to suck my fingers or the covers on the bed. What can I do to make him stop?

Answer: Congratulations on your new adoption and let me say this is not terribly unusual behavior in young and possibly orphaned kittens. This sort of behavior is considered displaced nursing and is a very self-comforting behavior in kittens that were orphaned. Think about young kids that suck their thumbs when they are upset or tired…very similar!

My suspicion is that your new guy may have been separated from his mother and developed these behaviors as ways to cope. The best thing you can do is give him a warm and loving forever home. Many times these behaviors will lessen as they develop comfort in their new home and surroundings. Other than being a little strange to you, this isn’t a harmful behavior. Hope this was helpful. Dr. Donna Spector

Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency. Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via

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  1. dianna says:

    my sister’s cat was found on her door step she bottle feed him and even in his old age would nurse on anyone earlope that picked him up. he didn’t have his eyes opend when she found him thought he was a mouse on her steps. but one of the sweetest ever cats never acted like a cat but a kitten his whole life.good luck

  2. dolores says:

    i also have a cat that is now almost 2 years old….she sucks on her tail when she gets tired….she was one left behind after someone poisoned her mother and her sibling…i fed her with an eyedropper for weeks before she started eating on her own and the only concern i have is now she’s older she still sucks on her tail…i think it goes back to not having her mother around when she needed that sucking for her mothers milk….

  3. dianna says:

    i have a very important question about IMHA i have feed my pets since the 1980’s halo pet food but now…. i am wondering as i have a small chuhuahua with IMHA and garlic is bad for IMHA i do not know how to feed my baby as it has onlt been over a week in treatment and transfusion. should i feed halo or what? i am very worried as we are having trouble getting the pack cell count past 25 this is a awful terrible diease. and i do not want to feed anything that could hurt in this diease.should i home cook but what and how? avery das ppet mom here.

  4. Halo says:

    Hi Dolores,

    Thanks for writing in. What you describe is a very common form of displaced nursing behavior in cats who were orphaned as young babies. It is very self-comforting behavior and unless your cat is breaking the skin or causing damage to her tail or fur, it probably isn’t anything to worry about.

    Dr. Donna Spector

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