Why is kitten nursing on the dog, and why does the dog allow it?

Why is kitten nursing on the dog, and why does the dog allow it?
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DEAR JOAN: I was reading your responses about kittens nursing for comfort and I was wondering if that applies with my situation.

Why is kitten nursing on the dog, and why does the dog allow it?I got my kitten at 4 weeks — they told me he was 8 weeks, but I had him checked by a vet and he was 4 weeks. I had him on kitten formula plus water plus cat food but he’s now 3½ months and he is nursing on my Maltese.

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The dog has never had any puppies before, so it can’t be for milk. I’ve never had this happen with kittens and my Maltese, so I’m wondering why he would be doing it.

Amy, Bay Area

DEAR AMY: Most rescue groups wait until kitten are 8 weeks old before adopting them out, but that’s primarily to ensure they are neutered, which can be done as early as 8 weeks.

Mother cats normally start weaning their kittens at 4 weeks, but in the case of orphaned kittens, the process can start at around 3 weeks old. If they’re biting on the nipple of the bottle, it’s time to introduce them to kitten food.

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Even kittens weaned at a normal time can still want to nurse. They miss their mothers and suckling made them feel secure and loved. They can continue to nurse on other animals and inanimate objects through adulthood, especially when stressed. I had a Siamese cat that would suckle the end of his tail.

Cats nursing on dogs is not uncommon, although it’s a little weird. If your Maltese has not been spayed, she could actually start producing milk, which wouldn’t be good for her or the kitten. Otherwise, she could suffer irritation from the nursing, as well as bites and scratches if the kitten gets too enthusiastic.

The cat might be fulfilling the dog’s maternal instincts, but it would be best to put a stop to it now. Every time you see it happening, separate them. Two more things to try: rubbing your dog’s stomach with a product that has bitter apple and dressing the dog in something that covers the area and doesn’t allow the kitten access.

On the positive side, the cat and dog are getting along well.

DEAR JOAN: Your correspondent with the disappearing customers at the bird feeder brought up recent memories.

We have security cameras everywhere and have graphic evidence of just why the squirrels were leaving suet houses alone. Bobcats.

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We have lived here in the woods for upwards of 40 years and the first we knew of the big cats roaming the land was when we set up cameras in the last couple of years. We have several mountain lion sightings in our driveway, and many clips of successful hunts by bobcats — and them carrying their trophies into the woods.

They hunt under the deck sometimes, immediately beneath our front door. Then they seem to leave off. The squirrels come back and forget caution, and the cycle continues.

Tim Bowden, Felton

My rescue puppy is having trouble sleeping alone Lucky cat: Falling feline gets saved at Miami football game Explaining a Woodside cat’s strange suckling behavior Pet of the Week: Drax What’s behind our squirrel’s penchant for green pine cones? DEAR TIM: Now that’s what I call prime time viewing. It’s really amazing how much wildlife lives just outside our doors that we never see.

On the subject of feeders that went unused while the owners were away, several people have suggested that the seed went bad, which is probably more comforting to the residents than the idea of wild cats outside their door.

For more pets and animals coverage follow us on Flipboard.

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