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Why Do Cats Knead? Understand This Cat Behavior

why do cats knead

Observing cats and their behavior is something that all cat lovers enjoy doing. Even people who haven’t owned a cat are often amazed by these magnificent creatures. If you do love cats you probably get flattered when a cat sits in your lap and starts kneading you. This is one way of them showing their love to you. At least, this is how we see it. But, what does that mean actually? Why do cats knead?

This is a question that everyone wants to find the answer to and we’ve done our research in the field and examined this peculiar cat behavior.

What is Cat Kneading

First of all, let’s see what is actually cat kneading and why is it called that way. When a cat is happy to be in your presence and jumps to your lap she usually starts kneading. In other words, that’s the motion of their paws up and down on the surface. It is also known as “making biscuits“. Most of the time while kneading the cat usually purrs and even drools.

Cat kneading is a rhythmic and steady motion that cats can do on a soft surface, not necessarily only in your lap. You can see your cat doing this on a pillow or a comforter and this behavior ends in the cat curling up to sleep. While kneading the cat is normally in a trans-like state and you can notice that she really enjoys doing that.

cats kneading

Why Do Cats Knead? What Does it mean?

Now getting to our main question – Why do cats knead?

Kitten behavior

This behavior is noticed even with young newly born kittens. When kittens are in the nursing phase they are kneading their mother’s belly. The purpose of this kneading is to stimulate the flow of milk and get nursed. According to some old theories, cats that were separated from their mother early continue with their kitten behavior in adulthood. However, this is not a supported theory because most cats knead and not all of them are weaned from their mothers early.

Cats get comfort

Another simple answer to the question of why do cats knead is that it simply is comforting to them. They enjoy kneading and love doing that anywhere.

Making their bed

One interesting response is that it’s closely related to the behavior of wild cats which patted down shredded leaves in order to make their own bed.

Mark the territory

Finally, some believe that this behavior of cat kneading is a way of marking territory. When cats knead they release some of their unique scents from their paws into the kneaded surface. In this way, cats are trying to keep other cats from getting into their favorite spot.

why do cats knead

What if Cats Kneading is Painful for You

Very often when your cat starts kneading you this can be painful for you. If your cat’s nails aren’t trimmed it probably will cause you pain. So, after answering the question why do cats knead, the next thing to ask is how to prevent getting hurt by cats kneading. The best thing to do is to trim the nails of your cat and once they are not sharp you will also enjoy this act. Still, have in mind that there is a difference between trimming your cat’s nails and cat declawing. In many states and countries in the world, cat declawing is illegal and it’s painful for your cat.

Alternatively, if you really don’t enjoy it when your cat kneads you, try distracting her with a toy or something else that would get their attention. Although a cat that decided to knead you should be considered a compliment.

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