Our expert says:
You are quite right that it is care seeking or giving behaviour and the same as your kitten would have done to his mother. It is comforting to the kitten and his way of giving and receiving attention. Kneading, purring, licking and even sucking are common in pet cats and many never grow out of this behaviour. This is because when they are cared for by humans they never need to grow up. They are fed and protected by us and therefore don't have to hunt and defend themselves in the wild. It is normal although can be excessive when the licking and sucking becomes extreme, so I suggest that when it gets too much you just remove your kitten from your lap, hand or whatever to discourage it. You could give him a toy to suckle on instead. Kittens that were removed from their mothers too early (before 6 or 7 weeks) usually show more extreme signs of this behaviour.
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