What is Smurgling? Cats Are Weird.

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Cats are strange animals. If you have been raising a cat for a long time now, we are sure you would have come across the incidences when they show some variation. Many pet parents have, with their experience, are still figuring out what their cats are trying to communicate with them. Starting from showing affection to playing a prank with you, there are many ways they respond to you. Many times, people have misunderstood cats’ communication.

Smurgling is one such behavior that cats show, which is pretty much common. Especially the kittens give you a hard time if you haven’t realized this. As new as it sounds, they are not very different. Normally people also name it “Kittens making biscuits” or simply kneading. However, this is one form of variation that these cats generally show.

So now, the question is, what type of variation? And what do they intend to do? Here in this article, we are going to see in detail the cats’ smurgling. The experiences from the past and also a few behavioral analysts’ opinions are highlighted in this article for your better understanding.

What is Smurgling?

Smurgling refers to the snuggling behavior of the cats that are accompanied by purring or kneading. It is not a typical kneading, though, as it may involve some punching and pulling. There are various combinations when it comes to smurgling. For instance, some cats suckle when they do this, and some drool or pant lightly. However, this will remain as a pattern in the cats only. It occurs with the nuzzling in common especially when their masters nurse them well.

There is a prevalent belief that cat smuggling is the behavior of result kittens getting separated from their mothers in the early stage. However, this is not entirely true, but some cats do this type of behavior. Especially when they are improperly weaned, they might end up smurgling a lot. Although this belief is not widely supported by the vets or neither it is backed up by the facts.

Most owners feel that cats only do this when they find it relatively safe and away from their insecurities. Of course, for any kitten who is away from their mom, nursing makes them feel good. But this does not mean that they are crying it out. Thus, Smurgling is considered one of the happy signs of cats. It can also be seen that they are trying to make a deep connection with you or your family. So, consider that you are nursing the cat to communicate that they are in the right place, and smurgling is a response that you can get.

Do all cats smurgle?

No, that’s where the cat’s parents are going wrong. Smurgling is not for all cats. It depends on the background that they come from. Most of them are hardly noticed while performing because this can be performed only on any stable inanimate objects and sometimes even against humans. Despite the location or object of choice, they smurgle also using pillows, beds, blankets, and any toys for that matter. It is never a bad thing because it is peculiar about choosing the objective. When they feel connected to these objects at home, they tend to perform.

For some cats, when they are upset with something or someone, they tend to drool on all the objects they love. Even humans have this character where they get too attached to one object, so when they are excited or sad, they start searching for this automatically. At least they find comfort with these objects. Regardless of the reasons why your kitty is smurgling, it’s only denoting that she is in a relaxed mood or safe about the place.

Many feline owners also say that it’s part of the routine when they perform smurgling. They want to do it against humans at least once a day. Some cats typically do this only at a specific time, even with strangers. Say, for example before dinner or a good night kiss and so on. Even though it varies from cat to cat, when they smurgle, you must be able to accept it more than anything. It puts us to the next question when do the cats smurgle in common?

When do the cats smurgle?

Usually, it can be determined if the cats are performing smurgling actions frequently. Here are some of the times when it’s commonly seen smurgling:

  • Making beds

You can notice this behavior while you are making beds for the cat or arranging the pillow; they eventually knead in that area. Usually, it’s the blanket that they choose to smurgle on, but sometimes, they may choose another softer area as well, like couches, recliners, and even bean bags.

  • Show love

You cannot deny the fact that cats are one of the most affectionate animals you will come across on the planet. We are sure even everyone has their pet favorite, but think of cats; they offer companionship. Do you know how they show it by smurgling you to death? Don’t feel annoyed; just feel loved.

  • Marking humans for them

Cats mark their territory with humans. You can see that they are highly possessive about their masters. They will even smurgle more if any other pets are fellow cats at home. They think these fellow pets usually steal love from the owners; hence, they tend to smurgle more. It is their alpha nature, and you, in return, need to prove that equally. To them, you are a parent, and they are children, so don’t try to pick your favorites.

  • It’s instinctive

Cats instinctively perform smurgling even without any reason. They are species programmed in such a way that they can recreate memories and apply them in daily life. For instance, if they have been with the mother cats all day, kneading at a particular time or during a specific occasion, they continue to do it even when they are brought home.

  • Early weaning

As mentioned above, even though this is one of the rare cases when cats smurgle. The cat parents, when they bring these small creatures home, sometimes, tend to be ‘super smurgling.’ For instance, they try to sleep near the head and suck their hair. They knead near the head until they sleep entirely. These are some of the signs when you can determine that your cats may have weaned too early.

The vets have reports of some owners who have complained about mild scratches on the head. Honestly, these cats are not voluntarily performing this behavior. Still, it is the memory that makes them do it when they are asleep. If you have one such cat, then you have to provide them with some extreme comfort and care. For instance, K & H Thermo beds are one of the best examples to show. They have heat pads that provide a soothing effect throughout the night.

These are some of the main reasons why cats get into smurgling. However, there is a time when you can’t differentiate between kneading and smurgling. Are they different from each other? Let’s find out the answer:

How smurgling is different from kneading?

Cats kneading are also of similar behavior to smurgling. When they wanted to self-comfort, they automatically started kneading. It is an activity to show that they are happy and that there is always a purpose to it. That’s the fine line of difference between kneading and smurgling.

For instance, when cats knead, there are scent glands at the bottom of the paws that get released. So, they knead on particular objects where they can leave their smell. It will give them extra comfort to live in the area or use the object. Rather than the nursing stage, the cats also knead during the adolescent stage.  Hence this is one of the general ways to express emotions. Importantly most cats also knead lifelong. Therefore, it is not something you need to be worried about.

The other main difference is that when the cat kneads along with the purring only is known as smuggling. It is a rhythmic movement of up and down activity; hence cats use all four paws simultaneously to do it. Most of them also try to knead in the lap area. Because it is a presumption that lap is one of the safest places for cats, when they are so happy or excited, they tend to do it even on your lap.

Here are some of the other important ways in which cats show their nursing behavior.

Cats’ nursing types What do they mean?
Over-groomingIt is a compulsive behavior in cats when they want to soothe themselves. They start to groom. It is one of the daily activities when the cats are anxious and looking for something reliable and trustworthy. It is common in both young and adult cats.
PacingPacing in the cat may occur only when they have some strangers at home or fellow pets in the same room. It starts very immediately, and suddenly, you can see that it becomes over-compulsive. They especially pace in front of their family members to seek attention or security.
Chewing It is said that cats tend to chew a lot when they are new to a particular home. The kittens especially tend to do that more often. They try to grab the blankets, pillows, and woolen fabric clothes to get a grip so that they don’t feel anxious. It is also said that in this case, they are like a human who is afraid and starts chewing some food.
Vocalizing Vocalizing is one of the ways that cats want to show you that they are in pain. Once they start doing it, they develop endurance, which gives them some sort of comfort.  Depending on the frequency of the vocalizing, you can probably understand the intensity of the pain that your cats go through.

The above table clearly describes how cats feel about nursing themselves or like to get nursed. Hence consider smurgling as one such behavior that the cats show, especially when they want to get a comfortable feeling from you or at your home.

Should you stop making the cat smurgle?

We would say that this is one of the wonderful bonding moments that your cat is showing you. It is only evident when cats show them as a gentle emotion. However, it can become painful or annoying when they grow up and do it. Especially when their claws are not trimmed, which is painful on the skin. It can also pierce your clothes. The cats are never going to know that until you tell them.

What you need to understand here from the cat’s behavior is that by smurgling, she is not trying to misbehave with you. It is just trying to show emotions and accept that it’s an instinct like an outlet. Stopping them from performing this is entirely impossible, although there are ways you can limit or protect yourself from the scratches.

Since cats can make it a routine, train them for smurgling to do at a specific time. Do not encourage it at any other time otherwise. It is one of the ways where both of you are self-prepared for the action. The other way is to prevent you from trimming your nails properly. There are super-efficient cat claw trimming tools available in the market. It can help you to prevent yourself from unavoidable scratches while they perform smurgling.


Most pet owners associate such behaviors of cats with being rude and wild. But our support is extended for the cats in this case. They are pouring out emotions and showing that this is a happy place in the world. Why would you want to stop or complain about it? We are sure they can also understand you by reducing the frequency of smurgling when you train them too. There is nothing weird about your cats and never worry about it anymore.

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