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Why Does My Cat Knead?

August 10, 2013

No matter if you call it “kneading,” “making biscuits,” or whatever you may have grown up saying, for some it’s a bit of a mystery.

Why exactly do cat’s push rhythmically alternating their paws in and out against a soft surface? 

Some believe that cats “knead” when they’re relaxed and content, most probably because kneading is often accompanied by purring. The theory is that the act of kneading is a behavior kittens engage in while nursing from their mother.

Nursing time for kittens is a happy, safe, relaxing time. I believe that as cats grow up, they may associate this behavior with feeling safe and comfortable.

That may be why some cats knead on blankets, pillows, cushions, or even your lap or chest. It’s likely a comfy spot that makes them feel safe and happy; consequently, they show how they feel.

Others believe cats may knead as a way to return affection, still others view it as a way for cats to stay limber. No matter what you believe, it’s a natural, instinctual behavior.

Cats of all ages may knead, and it’s not something you need to worry about. It’s a harmless act that (I believe) shows your cat feels bonded to you (or his favorite blanket, etc.).

Unfortunately, sometimes our cats may get a little too into it and may extend their claws, which can be painful. If that’s the case, you can always move your cat to another sleeping spot, or, as I prefer, just grab a thick blanket and place it on your lap, so there’s less of a chance of your getting scratched.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Renee permalink
    August 10, 2013 7:31 am

    I always thought it was a natural response as kittens while nursing to help stimulate the momma’s milk. And then later a habit when they are happy and content 🙂

  2. Lemonmelonn permalink
    August 11, 2013 5:22 am

    Thanks for the cute new gif to add to my collection!

    Dotty loves to make biscuits–she lies across my lap and I pet her as she purrs and kneads her favorite blanket. I think it’s leftover from nursing, but it’s a self-soothing thing. I encourage it. She definitely uses her claws–I’ve had her climb in my lap and start doing it to me. Ouch!

  3. August 13, 2013 8:28 pm

    I had never heard the expression “make muffins” and I thought the vet’s office was talking about my CH kitty’s er, elimination problems, when he was boarding there. Luckily it was something else. My non-CH kitty is a kneader par excellence. He used to lick and knead my neck and I had to hold his paws as he used his claws. The rough tongue was a bit much. He now kneads my midriff and sometimes snuffles my front! He’s 9 years old and still does this but he was taken away from his mother at about five and a half weeks. This is almost the only time he purrs. I can tell when he’s feeling insecure as he’ll do it several times in one day. He does it to my husband also.

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