Adopted Female Cat with Odd Behaviors

by Rene
(Washington DC)

Last week we adopted a female siamese mix who is probably about 2-6 years old. She has embraced all of us, but does have some quirky behavior.

I have had cats all my life and I know they bite out of play/love at times and I have read the article about helping your cat move away from this type of behavior (thank you). But I am wondering if this cat thinks I am her kitten.

This morning I woke to her licking my head/hair and doing the biting (not full biting, but preening type with her front teeth). In the middle of the night, she will lick and nibble on our fingers and ear lobes. She has done this to all 4 of us humans in the house at some point. It is not aggressive, but still a little unnerving (especially in the middle of the night!).

I don't know her history, just that she was found abandoned. Her nipples appear slightly larger to me, so she may have had a litter of kittens.

So my question female cats sometimes treat their owners like their kittens? And do you think this type of behavior will fade out as she becomes more comfortable here?

Thanks so much :)

Hi, Rene,

I have not heard or looked at that behavior as being that of a cat thinking the human is its kitten. That, of course, does not mean it's not possible.

More often, cats do those type of peculiar things because they are treating the human as though it were their Mother. We see this in cats that were weened too early or lost their mom at birth, etc.

The other thing that comes to mind is that you say the cat is a Siamese mix and Siamese are known for their odd nibbling,sucking behaviors. They are sometimes referred to as "wool-suckers" for that very reason.

This behavior often does decrease with age, but may not. I would suggest you discourage the behavior by gently stopping it every time it happens, regardless of how cute it may be. (sometimes people think it's cute during the daytime, but not at night or some members of the family think it's ok and cute while others do not). It is important to be consistent. EVERYONE must be on board ALL of the time if the behavior is to be discouraged and decreased or alleviated.

Give the kitty a replacement when she is interested in your fingers, ears, etc. A soft toy or stuffed animal or blanket or a treat or anything other than your body parts for her to suck on or lick at, if given consistently, may do the trick of discouraging her behavior. You have to let her know (gently!) that it is not acceptable!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Neely

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