Behavior – Adult hand reared cat still roots


Hi Kathy,

How are you?

cats that root
Handreared cats often will root


I have a 2 year old cat that was bottle fed and he still roots. He doesn’t 
do it all the time, but if I take him in my room just the two of us, he
will root to the point where he will push you out of the bed or put
bruises on you. Oddly, sitting in the middle of my bed was usually where I
fed him and that is the only place he roots. But, I don’t think he will
ever outgrow it. He definitely wasn’t weaned too early from the bottle as
he bottle fed until he was 10 weeks old (I got him when he was 3 weeks
old – the owners let the mama cat out and she got hit by a car). Yes, he
was eating food at 6 weeks, but he got a bedtime bottle until I ran out of
formula. Rotten. Spoiled rotten. 


cat roots
When cats root they knead and often suck soft things like blankets or clothes

Hi there,

In the behaviour world, we find that bottle fed cats always have some sort
of rooting behaviour”.
They didn’t have the mother cat or other siblings around so the behaviour
was transferred to the “human mother”. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t
weaned too early, it is how he was brought up.
We even find some cats that haven’t been bottle fed rooting – Siamese are
often associated with the behaviour.
It is comforting to the cat, and when they do it they go into a trance, much
like being on a “drug high”.
In some cases, putting a calming collar on the cat can help, but I would
suggest that if you don’t want him to root on you, then you make it
unpleasant to do so. Maybe wear a plastic mac which is slippery and the
cat’s paws will slip – even just covering yourself with thick plastic could
You can also remove yourself when the cat starts doing the rooting. As soon
as he starts, get up and walk away. If you keep doing this then he should
Finally, don’t allow him to go to the area where he roots. Block it off and go to another
part of the bed if possible.
He is not being naughty, just doing something that he really enjoys – very
much like a child sucking his thumb.”

Also see our article Kitten kneading, rooting and sucking

Kathy  Clayton


Your Own Vet

Leave a Reply