Have you been the recipient of paw pummeling from your cat from time to time? Have you ever asked, “Why does my cat knead me?”
Blame It On Instinct
It all starts as an instinctual behavior. Kittens knead while nursing from their mother. This kneading helps stimulate their mother’s milk production, so she can feed her kittens adequately.
Why, then, does an activity that starts when they are kittens continue for the rest of their lives? My mother used to call it “making biscuits,” and as I researched, I found that it’s a common term used to describe the practice.
Cats will use various techniques in their kneading. Some don’t use their claws, which is a nice thing, if we happen to be the kneading target. Some use all four paws. Some others will bite or suck on a blanket when they knead.
I got interested in the subject because, after I’d had my old cat for a few months, I realized he never kneads. I don’t believe I’ve ever met a cat before who did not follow this behavior.
It makes me wonder if he experienced some unfortunate incident in his kittenhood that made him decide kneading was not a good thing.
The kneading motion is, in fact, well-named as “making biscuits” because the in and out of their paws is very similar to what a baker does to bread dough.
Favorite Spots For Practicing Biscuit-Making
This activity almost always takes place on a soft surface, such as a pillow, a blanket, another cat or your lap.
My last cat, Carlos, slept on the pillow next to me, and at night when we went to bed, he would always knead the edge of my pillow before he went to sleep. I had some concern that he’d miss the pillow and knead my face, but fortunately, that never happened.
Of course, he purred while he kneaded. Some cats even drool, because the jaw becomes very relaxed. This purring and kneading is very conducive to falling asleep…not just for the cat, but, for example, when Carlos slept with me, for me as well.
The kneading must be comforting to the cat, and helps him relax thoroughly.
Kneading Could Be Traced To Their Days In The Wild
One theory says that kneading goes back to the days in the wild, when the cat flattened tall grass or mashed leaves to prepare the spot for sleeping. It seems to be a natural preparation for settling into a nap.
Also, the cat is marking territory, or even you, because he has scent glands on the bottom of his paws. So, the cat is signaling his comfort by this practice, but he’s also claiming you or whatever else he kneads on as his own.
How To Deal With Kneading Claws
If your cat likes to use her claws when kneading in your lap, be sure to place a folded cloth of some kind under the cat so she will knead it instead of you. Never punish a cat for kneading, as it is an instinctual behavior and not some wrongdoing on the part of your feline.
Exercise All Parts Of The Body
Another reason for this kneading activity is as a way for the cat to get in some stretching. It’s one of the cat’s yoga techniques that help him stay loose and limber. It undoubtedly also loosens the shoulder muscles and helps to relax them.
Your Girl Cat Might Be Looking For A Boy Cat
Female cats may use kneading to attract a mate. They might purr, stretch, and knead the air while lying on their side. They are letting male cats know it might be a good time for an amorous encounter.
Kneading Firms Up The Bond Between You
Consider your cat’s kneading you as a way of bonding. If she kneads with her claws, you will have an additional reason to keep them trimmed. If you don’t, she might also snag your clothing.
If you need to get some control over this kneading activity, arrange a soft spot especially meant for this activity and train the cat to make her biscuits there. Just transfer her to the accepted spot when she wants to knead, pet her and get her settled, and eventually she will figure it out.
Personally, I’ve always liked the kneading activity. I think it is kind of sweet, and emphasizes a quiet, relaxed moment in our relationship.
Kneading Is A Force For Good
Just remember that this kneading is in no way misbehavior. It’s based on instinct, and the kitty needs an outlet. She kneads you, partially out of love. Just work out a way to allow her this activity when she desires. I’m just sorry my old cat does not knead, as I’m rather partial to the practice.
It’s true that she has practiced this activity since kittenhood and now she kneads you because she needs you. You’ve become her surrogate parent, so feel happy to be chosen. Consider yourself fortunate and loved.
References I used for this post are as follows: