Much like getting a new pet is a big step for us humans, it's also a challenge for them too! From meeting their new humans, to arriving at the place they're to call home, our pets go through a lot in the first few weeks of their new life.
While there are several ways that we can help make the transition easier, it's also something that our pets have to deal with themselves. And, as much as we think that cats are independent and indifferent, they have to adapt as much as any other animal.
One way to combat this initial apprehension is to introduce a second cat into the home. Introducing multiple kittens from the onset means that they'll be more likely to get along with one another, and allows them to give each other the emotional support that they need.
Owners are often apprehensive of having multiple cats, and will often over-analyse their behaviour. As long as you've the correct steps in place, however, multi-cat homes can work just fine.
One way that your kittens may support one another in this time of change is by suckling and kneading.
Kneading is a rhythmic motion that cats make by a pushing their paws alternately against a soft object. It's an early behaviour used to produce milk when a mother cat is feeding her kittens, and also something that they often do before settling down to sleep. Kneading is generally seen as comforting and a sign of pleasure.
In the early stages, these behaviours are thought to be linked to premature separation, and demonstrate the cat's attempts to settle. The best time for a kitten to be weaned and settled into a new home is six to eight weeks, with earlier attempts more likely to provoke kneading and suckling as an adaptive response.
It's important to say that this isn't a cause for panic, and it doesn't mean that your kittens are unhappy. In fact, fussing around them is likely to fuel their anxiety.
Make sure, however, that the kneading is not damaging your home - cats need boundaries, and you shouldn't have to compromise your belongings. Similarly, the suckling shouldn't cause problems, but do make sure that there's no damage to the skin. This will become increasingly more likely if it continues into adulthood.
One way to avoid this is to introduce separate beds. Kittens will likely adapt this behaviour as they're settling down, and sleeping in separate beds means that they'll be unable to get to one another. This is perhaps a good move if your kittens continue to suckle as they get older.
As we say, kneading and suckling are completely normal behaviours, and shouldn't be a cause for concern. As we all know, adapting to change takes time, and some of us deal with it better than others. So, give them the time and space that they need - with a bit of patience and a lot of love, they'll soon get there!
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