Kittens are so cute, right? This is especially true if you don’t have to constantly deal with blankets and clothing soaked in their spit, or worse still, their obsession with suckling on parts of your body or anything in sight. Newly-weaned kittens, just like human babies, may have trouble letting go of their old habits. This needs more management than curbing. One way to deal with it would be to provide a pacifier. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to learn how to make a kitten pacifier so you can help your kitten in his time of need?
This phase does not last forever, but unless you understand why your kitten behaves the way he does, it would be difficult for the two of you to get along. With this understanding in mind, we have spared no effort in acquainting you with all that you need to know about kitten pacifiers. This information will help you not only make a great pacifier for him but will also ensure that he gets the best out of it as he works through the phase.
Below we have all the nitty gritty of a kitten pacifier. First, we explain why kittens feel the need to suck on stuff. We will also point out the factors to consider before making one and steps on how to actually make it. We will not wrap this article up until we have explained how to effectively use and take care of it and also how to wean your kitten off the pacifier. Indulge yourself below.
Reasons to Make a Kitty Pacifier
There are many reasons why you might encounter the need to make a kitty pacifier. Some of these are directly related to the kitten’s continued survival, while others may be less urgent, but no less important. Typically, you’ll find the need to make a kitten pacifier under these conditions:
For Kittens that are Weaned Off too Early
Ideally, kittens are supposed to be suckled till they are about four weeks of age. Weaning should then be done gradually when the kittens are between 4 – 10 weeks of age. Suckling is not only a way for the kittens to obtain nourishment, but it is also a source of comfort, assurance, and security. Kittens associate suckling with being close to their mothers and littermates.
Just because a kitten is able to eat solid food doesn’t mean he is ready to leave the comfort and warmth that a mother provides. When he is weaned off too early or abruptly, he may need more time to adjust. He may, therefore, feel the need to look for a replacement.
If the mother cat is willing to continue nursing her kitten, this won’t be a problem—except that the weaning process will take longer is all—but sometimes mother cats will refuse to nurse again. At that point, to avoid stressing out the kitten, you’ll have to provide him with a pacifier.
For Certain Cat Breeds
Some cat breeds are known to require more weaning time than most others. Although there is no genetic evidence to support the claim, the Siamese and other Oriental cat breeds are most commonly associated with this behavior.
For Cats Coping with Anxiety
Every living thing copes with stress and anxiety differently. The stressful situations can be triggered by a change in routine or the environment, a change of residence, the death or absence of a close person, or the addition of another pet, illnesses, and many others.
While some adults bite their nails, babies will suck their thumbs and cats—even adult ones, not just kittens—may look for something to suckle. They mostly suck on woolen materials, but to keep them from ruining your clothes or choking on any loose thread, you should let them suckle on a pacifier instead.
To Demonstrate Trust
A kitten does not suck in a situation where he is uncomfortable. If he is constantly sucking on you, your clothing, or things near you, it is a demonstration of trust. To reward that trust, why not give him something special to suck on? He’ll like you even more—although be sure not to let this become a habit that your kitten can’t shake off even after turning into an adult.
Putting Together a Custom-Made Pacifier
Unlike human babies who will mostly suck on their thumbs or other fingers, kittens will suck on the weirdest things. From clothing to rugs, their own tails to your fingers and hair, there is no limit to what they ‘nurse’ on.
Some of the triggers are beyond your control. If the suckling bothers you, providing a substitute for your kitten will satisfy his need for suckling and save you the trouble of worrying over spit-soaked clothing.
The idea is to draw your kitten away from the things that you do not approve of to those that you are okay with. Before you decide on these, there are a few factors that you should consider.
The object you settle on should be:
- Safe for kittens to use
- Easy to clean
- Readily available and easy to replace
- Something that the cat is or can get attached to
- Easy to carry around
While nipple pacifiers are available in the market, a kitten needs much more than something to put in his mouth; he needs something that he will not only feel comfortable and safe around but also one that he can identify with. That is where the idea of stitching together a pacifier using his favorite items comes from. To undertake this DIY project, you’ll need:
- A soother(s)
- The kitten’s personal items, e.g., a blanket, a pillow, or a stuffed animal
- Some nylon thread
- A needle
Step #1: Choosing the Right Soother
Soothers come with nipples made of silicone, latex, or plastic. Silicone ones are firmer, easier to clean and more readily available. Latex ones are softer and more flexible. This means that they can be easily bitten off. Plastic nipples are long-lasting and easy to clean. Unfortunately, they can develop a jagged edge that can injure your kitten’s mouth. This one is not as common as the other two.
The soothers come in either one molded piece or multiple pieces that are assembled into one pacifier. The pieces comprise of a nipple, a guard, and a ring. The nipples are made to mimic a mother’s teats. Your vet or breeder should be able to advise you on the right size and shape of the nipple depending on your kitten’s age.
Step #2: Choosing the Right Material
This material will act as a replacement for the mother cat, so it should be something warm and comfy that your kitten is likely to get attached to. It could be a blanket, a stuffed animal, or even a pillow. Make sure that it is big enough for the kitten to hug or knead on as he suckles. Something made of fur would be perfect for the job.
Step #3: Attaching the Soother to the Chosen Material
Using a needle and some nylon thread, sew the soother onto the material through the holes on the guard. Do this firmly to keep the soother from dangling and also to avoid trapping in the cat’s nails. The homemade pacifier is ready for use.
How to Introduce, Use, and Care for the Pacifier
While the kitten may be desperately looking for something to ‘nurse’ on right now, doesn’t mean he’ll latch on to the pacifier you just made immediately. Here’s how you can help him adjust and how to keep the pacifier in working condition at all times:
- Without a mother to care for him, you become your kitten’s closest thing to a mother. He can pick out your scent from almost anything. To ensure that he feels safe and comfortable, ensure that the pacifier smells of you at all times. You can do this by keeping it close to you whenever possible.
- The nipple should be kept clean always. Clean it with soap and water and thoroughly rinse off the soap to keep your kitten healthy.
- You can also make use of some good quality dried kitten milk replacement formula and rub some on a moistened nipple. When you present it to the kitten for the first time, the smell and the taste should invite him to lick and then suck.
- A great time to acquaint your kitten with the pacifier is when he is about to fall asleep. The fact that he is calm, feels like suckling, and is sleepy makes him receptive. Slowly place the nipple in his mouth and see how he behaves.
- If possible, have several pacifiers placed in your cat’s favorite relaxing or sleeping spots. This should help him associate the places with the objects.
- If your kitten perforates the nipple, it should be replaced to keep him from sucking air into his tummy.
This process should be repeated as many times as needed until your kitten gets used to sucking on the pacifier on cue. Once a routine is achieved; you may not need the kitten milk replacer but can still use it once in a while as a treat.
Weaning Your Kitten Off the Pacifier
After all the hard work you put into getting your kitten acquainted with his pacifier, you’d like to think that you don’t have to do the reverse. Unfortunately, this is not the case. At some point, he will start teething, growing lazy, and becoming too attached to his pacifier and you realize that he is too old for it. When it comes to the matter of weaning your kitten off of the pacifier, these tips should give you somewhere to start.
Step #1: Reduce the Number of Pacifiers
If you have several pacifiers placed in the kitten’s favorite spots, reduce them and probably leave only one in his bed to ensure that the transition is gradual. Also, start seriously discouraging suckling on any other materials in the house.
Step #2: Offer Alternative Activities
For whatever reason that your kitten needs to suck, there should be an alternative. For example, if he is bored, you can provide him with a toy to play with. If he is anxious, a massage or a tickling session will help relax him and even help him sleep better.
Step #3: Cut Off the Nipple
If your kitten insists on using the pacifier and you are too kind to take it away, just cut off a part of the nipple. The kitten will feel the difference and hopefully not like it.
Step #4: Put the Pacifier(s) Away
If the pacifiers are not lying around, the kitten will be conditioned to live without them at some point. This should be done hand in hand with the alternative activities.
Kittens can develop the suckling behavior due to the need to feel comfortable, safe, and at ease. The kitten’s origin can also predispose him to the need for prolonged periods of weaning. Drawing the kitten’s attention from sucking on less desirable things to more agreeable ones can help the both of you. A pacifier can be used in such a way.
A pacifier can be custom made by attaching a regular pacifier to a kitten’s personal item. The item chosen should be cat-friendly in all aspect. It works on the assumption that a cat would be more drawn to the items that he’s already using and hence would easily take to the pacifier.
The custom-made pacifier is readily accessible, not easily lost, easy for the kitten to identify with and more comfortable than a regular pacifier. However, it requires more effort to make and clean.
While getting your kitten to use the pacifier might be a task, another one beckons you to wean the kitten off the pacifier. The process should be gradual to allow your cat to adjust. It includes reducing the number of pacifiers, incorporating other activities to engage your kitten, and putting away the pacifier(s) altogether. Cutting off the nipple also works in some stubborn cases.
Have you had any experience with custom-made pacifiers? Let us know about it. Is there anything else that you would have liked us to include? Leave us your concerns, comments, or compliments below.