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Why Do Cats Knead? Is It Normal When Your Cat Does This?

Why Do Cats Knead? Is It Normal When Your Cat Does This?

Cats are lovely animals, and although there are various breeds of cats, they all behave similarly, from the tiny house cat to the mighty tiger in the jungle. They all have the same instinctive behavior; the major difference is the size, environment, and adaptive characteristics.

A cat kneads for various reasons, such as conveying comfort, displaying pleasure, creating a suitable resting place, marking out territory, stretching its muscles, and identifying and enticing possible mates. Yes, it is normal for cats to knead. You should be worried if your cat does not knead.

At one point in time, you must have found your cat kneading, and unless you know why it does that, you will be worried. Be rest assured, we will look at this behavior that may be termed strange by some and see why your cat does it.

kitten kneading

What Is Cat Kneading?

When we say a cat kneads, we refer to the rhythmic pushing out and pulling in its front claws. The cat pushes its paws towards and away from an object. This behavior is also referred to as making biscuits because it is similar to the pattern in which bakers rhythmically prepare and knead the dough.

It is common to see cats knead on common objects, including blankets, linens, and even on human laps. As long as the cat is comfortable and feels secure with a person, it will knead on the person.

Why Does A Cat Knead?

It is important as a cat owner to know why your cat will knead; this information will make you know if it is a good habit and what your cat tries to communicate when it kneads. Here are some of the possible reasons a cat will knead.

Cats Knead During Nursing

Kneading is a behavior cats exhibit from a very young age, from nursing. When kittens feed, they knead on their mother’s mammary gland. This action releases oxytocin in the mother cat, causing milk to flow for the kitten to feed on. Although, there is a theory that cats who knead were separated from their mother too soon. This is not true because cats knead regardless of when they were weaned.

Cats Knead To Display Affection

All animals have different ways of displaying affection. For cats, it is by kneading. Cats knead to show pleasure; they knead when they are comfortable, being petted, or snuggling into a nap spot. A cat will also knead on its owner’s lap to show contentment and love, although the kneading can be painful. When a cat is stressed, it will knead to create a calm and soothing mood.

Cats Knead To Attract Mates

This is another reason female cats knead, so you need to be very observant when around your cat so you can provide it with what it needs. Female cats will stretch, purr, and knead the air while lying on their side, signaling to male cats that they can approach for mating. The kneading is the signal for mating, not the sign for immediate mating.

Cats Knead To Mark Out Territory

Cats are territorial animals; this includes domesticated and wild cats; they all mark out their territories using different means. Wild cats usually pee around the area to mark out their territory. However, domesticated cats scent-mark their territory by kneading their paws around, leaving their scents to keep off other cats. There are scent glands in a cat’s paws, so by kneading and scratching, it can deposit scents.

Cats Knead To Stretch Their Muscles

Cats are great sleepers, and when they wake up from their nap, they have stiff muscles. To loosen up their muscles, they knead. Cats are flexible yoga masters, and they enjoy working out naturally to keep fit and remain in shape. So, by kneading its paws, a cat keeps itself limber until it is ready to take another nap.

Cats Knead To Prepare Their Resting Place

Animals have different ways of putting themselves to sleep; some dog breeds turn in circles before lying down. Cats put themselves to sleep by kneading, and they also do this to create a soft and comfortable resting place. This behavior has also been noticed in wild cats; they would knead tall grasses into piles for a good resting place.

Is It Good When A Cat Kneads?

There are various instinctive behaviors cats display, and kneading is one of them. It is perfectly normal for your cat to knead, and they often knead on objects with soft surfaces. When cats knead, it is a soothing and relaxing behavior; many cats will drift off into sleep, purr contentedly, or zone out while kneading.

You should know that not all cats knead, so if you have a cat that does not knead, you should not be worried because it may not be a behavior of the breed. Kneading is a common behavior among both kittens and adult cats. Sometimes cats knead when they are being petted, but they do it on their own most times.

Cats’ kneading is normal behavior that should not worry you as a pet owner. However, it will be a problem if your cat always kneads on your body. This would hurt because there is a theory that the happier the cat is, the harder it kneads. So, while you might be hurting, your cat is displaying love and affection in the best possible way it can.

cat cuddling

Is It Bad For Cats To Knead?

Kneading is not a bad habit in cats. It is instinctive, and they do it without thinking. Although it is instinctive, if a cat is dissuaded from kneading when it is a kitten, it will not knead at all as an adult. So, because the cat has been used to kneading on its mother’s nipples as a kitten, it becomes a soothing habit that it will display at any time.

If you want to caution your cat from kneading, you can do any of the following;

  • Always trim the claws of the cat to prevent sharp hooks.
  • Turn the cat’s attention to something else, and you can persuade it to knead on a blanket instead of your lap or couch.
  • Redirect the attention of the cat using toys or treats.
  • If your cat is fond of kneading on your lap and you are unable to dissuade it, place a thick blanket on your lap when the cat curls up on you.
  • Avoid punishing your cat for kneading as this can cause it to react negatively and aggressively. Punishing a cat for its natural behavior is bad.

Why Do Cats Knead Blankets Before Lying Down?

When a cat is ready to take a nap, it usually kneads the area; if there is a blanket, it will knead on the blanket before lying down. This is an instinctive behavior to prepare where it will sleep. Some cats usually knead blankets while walking around in a tight circle before lying down to sleep.

Cats that kneaded their mother’s mammary glands as kittens grow up to associate kneading with the comfort of nursing. So, they will knead at anything that gives them comfort; this includes stuffed animals, blankets, and other soft objects. This is a very common behavior and should not cause alarm.

Final Thoughts

Every creature is complex in its way; humans may be the most complex of all creatures, but other animals are also complex in their little way. Without proper study and vigilance, knowing what a cat is communicating would be impossible. Kneading is a very comforting and soothing thing cats do. So, you should rest assured when you see your cat kneading.