Male cat licking his nipples

by Jeff
(New Bern, NC, USA)

My male cat is licking his own nipples. Now his nipples are red and irritated. Is there something that is causing this behavior?

He does not appear to be sucking like with his mommy, just seems to have caught his attention and now he doesn't stop.

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Jul 30, 2011
Allergies? Skin conditions? Stress?
by: Kurt (Admin)

I think there could be a number of possibilities here, Jeff. Excessive licking, sometimes to the point of making the skin raw and bleed can have a medical cause.

Allergies can cause this, including food allergies and flea allergies, as can various skin related illnesses or reactions to medications or irritants.

Please see this veterinarian's response to a question about a male cat licking one of his nipples. Note the mention of the possibility of mammary cancer, as well as watching for discharge from the nipple.

I always think it's wise to consult a veterinarian, but if he checks out medically, it may be behavioral. Over-grooming, as it's sometimes called can also be caused or triggered by stress.

Some cats may suffer from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) commonly called wool sucking. It's often characterized by sucking on blankets and is typically thought to be a result of being separated from the mother cat at too young an age.

My cat Teddie used to do this but she usually used a stuffed bear and she was several years old before she grew out of it. Some cats suck on their own fur rather than blankets or stuffed animals.

Some cats bite, lick, and suck the skin or fur on their forelegs or tails, but others may use other areas of the body. I'm not sure why he'd be focusing on his nipples, specifically, but I think it's possible he may be exhibiting an over-grooming behavior.

If that's the case, then you can try distraction techniques and longer play sessions and increased exercise.

Some catnip may help as well, and reducing his stress levels as much as possible would be in order. For extreme cases, medication is sometimes prescribed.

There's also a product called the Catsifier, but that's specifically designed to be a substitute for cats who exhibit sucking behavior. If it is behavioral, there's a chance it will resolve on its own.

If anyone has any opinions on this, I'd love to hear them.

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