Paw Sucking

Kelly Roper
Paws up

Feline Paw sucking tends to perplex owners, but the activity does have an explanation. Read our Cat Expert's advice to several visitors.

Visitor Questions About Paw Sucking in Cats

Paw Sucking Cat

I've had my cat, Isabella, since she was eight weeks old. About a month after I got her she started this odd behavior of "sucking her thumb". I was sure she would eventually grow out of it, but that was over four years ago. When she was younger she would do it all the time, especially when she was ready to fall asleep. Although she is still doing so, it's only if I am holding her or petting her. She sometimes even wakes me up so she can snuggle in the crook of my arm, and then she sucks her thumb until she falls asleep.

She also never purred until she was about three years old, and now the purring and thumb sucking seem to go hand in hand. These are just a couple of the peculiar things my baby-cat does. People are always asking me why she is still doing this?

Thanks~~ YB in Houston.

Expert Reply

Hi YB,

Thumb sucking can be just as addicting for human kids. Unless it's damaging her paws, don't worry about it.

Many cats display this dry nursing behavior as a carry over from kittenhood. When she's comfortably nestled in your arms sucking her paw and purring, she's feeling very secure and contented. Take it as a sign of her great affection for you and count yourself lucky you have such an interesting cat.

Thanks for your question~~ Kelly

My Cat Sucks His Paw

I adopted a four-month-old Siamese mix kitten from our local shelter about a month ago. He started sucking his paw this week, and he kneads the bed with his other paw. He's like a little kid sucking a thumb and playing with the blanket. He does this until he falls asleep.

In all the cats and kittens I have had, I have never seen this. Is this simply a comfort thing and he'll grow out of it, or is he lacking something in his diet. I feed them Science Diet dry {{Kitten Food|kitten food]]. I'm curious and a little worried because I have never seen this before. By the way, he is neutered and has a fabulously laid back personality.

Thanks~~ Tommie

Expert Reply

Hi Tommie,

Believe it or not, this is the second question I've received in the last two weeks about a cat sucking its paws, so the behavior probably isn't that unusual after all.

The paw sucking and the kneading are both nursing behaviors, and some cats find these activities comforting well into adulthood. I don't think you have anything to worry about unless your cat's paw begins to look sore or swollen.

If you'd like to distract him from the behavior, just pick him up for a cuddle when the paw goes in the mouth. A little extra affection may make him forget all about it.

Congratulations on having such a unique and interesting kitten!

~~ Kelly


Paw Sucking