What Is Cat Kneading?
Kneading is a repetitive, rhythmic motion during which cats will push their paws into and out of a soft surface, alternating between paws. Cats love to knead on soft surfaces like blankets, pillows, soft carpeting, a person’s lap, or a couch.
Most cats like to knead, which resembles a person kneading dough. Thus, cat kneading is often called ‘making biscuits.’
Some cats will extend and retract their claws as they knead. Other cats will keep their claws fully retracted while they knead.
Also, some cats will use only the front paws to knead, while others use all four paws.
Kneading is adorable and fascinating to watch. Plus, cats can get so relaxed they that relax their jaws and start to drool. Imagine that!
Why Do Cats Knead?
Kneading is instinctive in cats and begins soon after birth. The main reasons why cats knead are listed below:
- Stimulate milk flow from the mother’s nipples during nursing
- Relax after a stressful situation
- Stretch muscles after a nap
- Indicate a readiness to mate
- Mark territory
- Prepare a comfortable environment before sleeping or giving birth
One theory is that the behavior of kneading began with wild cats building places with grass and leaves for nesting, giving birth, and resting after a day of hunting.
Today, you can observe cats kneading right before they settle down to sleep.
Regarding marking territory, cats have scent glands in their paws. Kneading releases a cat’s scent to mark a particular territory.
Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?
Remember, a cat’s favorite place is your lap. Therefore, you are very likely to experience cat kneading up close and personal.
If your cat likes to extend their claws when kneading, though, this adorable behavior could end up becoming uncomfortable or even painful for you.
So, why do cats and kittens knead their owners? One reason is to mark territory. Some cats are quite territorial of their owners. If that sounds like your cat, its kneading will release its scent onto you. You are now your cat’s territory.
A cat may also knead its owner if the owner is wearing something soft, like a sweatshirt, woolen shawl, or any other soft and supple fabric. These types of materials make great sleeping surfaces. Just like how we fluff up our pillows and blankets before sleeping, cats do the same by kneading.
Some cats knead on their owners to reminisce on their glory days as a kitten. Your lap is just as warm as their mother’s belly was. Therefore, your adult cat could be kneading on you to simply relive experiences of its happy kittenhood.
When your cat begins to knead, whether in your lap or on another soft surface, you can gently guide your cat into a position where it is lying on its side. In this position, your cat can relax and even fall asleep.
Overall, a cat kneading its owner is a sign of affection and flattery. The cat is basically saying that it really loves you and enjoys your company.
If all of this love and affection hurts because of your cat’s claws, try to trim its nails before the next kneading session on your lap.
Alternatively, you can place a thick blanket or towel on your lap before your cat jumps on their favorite lap to sleep on. This way, your cat can show you affection without causing you discomfort or ripping up your clothes.
Kneading can become bothersome or even a hassle if your cat wants to knead on you all the time.
If your cat loves kneading just a bit too much, try to gently pick up your cat and place it on another surface, such as the sofa. You can also distract your cat with a toy when you notice that it wants to start kneading and purring. Your cat will happily go after the toy and forget all about its kneading activities.
Do not ever punish your cat for kneading. Kneading is instinctive for cats and brings them lots of enjoyment. Unless the kneading behavior is truly bothersome, let your cat knead in peace and enjoy it.