Why Does My Cat Knead?

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If you’re a cat owner, then you should be well acquainted with their cute feline activities. Cats are undoubtedly attractive, smart, and playful creatures. Kneading is one of their favorite and most common behaviors that is seen amongst them doing most of the time. Just like other activities, kneading also seems to be a nice, soothing, and cute behavior that relaxes the cat and shows their playful gesture. During kneading, they push their paws in and out, and in other directions, while sitting on a couch, pillow, carpet, bed, or your lap. While it may make you adore your cat more, have you ever thought why a cat kneads?



Before moving forward, let’s know why the behavior is called kneading. Well, the way cats move their paws – forward and backward, in and out, right and left resembles the technique of kneading dough. Thus, this playful move is also known as “biscuit making”. It looks funny and satisfying, as the cats seem relaxed, playful, and happy while they knead. Nevertheless, there must be some reason for such feline activity. And knowing about it can fulfill your wonders about this weird yet funny and playful behavior of the cats. So, now let’s move on to why these pretty little creatures showcase such activity.


What kneading is?

This adorable and fun-loving behavior followed by the cats is a sweet gesture that always makes a cat owner smile. By moving their paws in a particular playful motion, cats do knead from the beginning of their lifetime. While being a kitten, they start this behavior on their mother’s chest to give pressure to stimulate proper milk flow. And this behavior continues to stay with them for a lifelong period. Though not all the cats knead after growing up, most of them do. They get satisfaction by performing this kind of activity, which makes them do so repeatedly. Also, indulging in such activities make their muscles flexible and helps them to stretch energetically.


Where do the Cats Knead?

In case you’re a cat owner, then you must know how frequently your kitty kneads on the couch and bedding. Kneading onto a soft and comfortable surface gives them the comfort that helps them to bring out their inner happiness and makes them de-stressed. Cats are usually seen kneading at several places. Also, their mood and intentions can be assumed based on where they are kneading. So, let’s have a look at the following table.


Place of Kneading

Probable Intentions

Kneading on the mommy cat’s chest. To ensure the stimulation of milk flow.
Kneading a squashy surface like a blanket, soft toys, etc. To reminisce the soothing pleasure that they had received during their mother’s nursing period in their childhood.
Kneading onto grass, soil, or on the sand. To enjoy a joyous moment or hide or find something.
Kneading on their owner’s lap. To show affection and love toward the owner.
Kneading in the air while purring. To attract their male companions to approach for a course of mating.


Why do the Cats Knead?

Besides, kneading, being one of their favorite activities and an interesting trait that shows how adorable they are, many more probable reasons make your beloved kitty knead. So, now let’s talk about the reasons for which they might knead.



  • To revive their childhood memory:

The habit of kneading of a cat starts from their period of kittenhood. Their instinctual kneading onto their mother’s nipples makes them stimulate the milk for continuous flow during the time of their nursing. It makes them feel secure at their mother’s care. To revive this feeling of motherly warmth and care, they do carry their habit of kneading onto a soft surface that makes them happy and give them a sense of security. Also, it is said that a cat taken from its mother too early has the possibility of kneading the most. However, all cats do not knead, but a majority of them do.


  • To get relief from stress:

Being a cat owner, you must know how important a cat’s mental health is. Often, they suffer from depression and anxiety that makes them a moody and grumpy one, and at times even rude. Kneading is their way of relieving themselves from depression and stress. If you notice, you’ll find that cats usually keep their eyes closed while kneading. Playfully moving their limbs has a soothing effect on their mind and gives them a kind of comfort. This rhythmic behavior has a relaxing and de-stressing effect that makes them happy and helps in overcoming nervousness and depression. Also, indulging in such activities is marked as a healthy habit that is beneficial for their growth and wellbeing.


  • To mark their territory:

Cats are not so good at sharing their property. They are very much particular about their toys and beddings.  They mostly knead things that your cat cares about the most and thinks to be their own. That may be your kitty’s blanket, bedding, toy, or even its beloved owner. To show their love and affection and to make you aware of their claiming nature, they go on playing with their paws in a particular motion.



While doing so, the cats release a unique scent from the scent glands located beneath their soft feet onto their favorite items to make those marked as their own possessions. In this way, they provide a signal to the unfamiliar cats that you and your kitty’s belongings are only her; other unknown cats might find some different place to knead. Thus, in other words, it can be said that the cats love to mark their territory to claim their love, which is quite a sweet and adorable behavior. Isn’t it?


  • To make their own bed:

Well, if you think that your kitty is only good at eating and sleeping, then you might be wrong.  They are also good at making their bed. They probably follow up kneading to make the place comfortable for their nap. As seen in their ancestors, they tend to knead onto the grass or soil to make a seat for them. So, if your cat is kneading its bed or your lap, then there are possibilities that they are preparing for their next sleepy step.


  • For stretching their muscles:

Stretching is their favorite game. Making such postures to stretch their limbs give a kind of relaxation to their muscles that help them to get rid of their sores and kick off the tiredness. Kneading directly or indirectly helps in the growth of their muscles and keep them healthy. It seems to be their favorite work-out that aids them in getting rid of their post-nap laziness and ensures a good and sound sleep next time by keeping their body function properly.


  • To attract for mating:

A common instinct of kneading is frequently seen in female cats when they go into heat. By doing activities like purring, kneading in the air while lying on their side, they try to approach for mating. It is noticed that most of the female cats show this kind of behavior to signal and attract their male partners for possible mating.



  • To feel the touch of love:

Have you ever seen that whenever you pat your cat, they either rest on your lap by keeping themselves quiet, or try to play with you by moving their paws forward and backward by jumping or drooling in a posture of kneading? Your love gives them a sense of contentment, and they respond to it by playfully kneading onto your lap. By doing this, they show their comfort with your touch and try to tell you that they want such love and affection more.

Let them play like this freely, and enjoy the funny drooling and dancing of your cute little kitty. It strengthens the loving bond between you and your friendly pet. This gesture of them not only gives your cat intense pleasure and joy but can also uplift your mood while you watch them play with you in that joyous way.


  • To figure out something confusing:

Like many other reasons, it is also a common cause that makes your cat knead. They may be smart enough, but any moving object perplexes them. They often take time to figure out by kneading, whether it is a moving toy or a flying insect or any other kind of suspicious object. They continuously try to tickle that object, until and unless they become successful in discovering what it is actually.

Whenever you see a mixed feeling of confusion and a little bit of fear while kneading, then you must be sure that your cat is trying to figure out or discover something mysterious. Let your pets cherish their inner Sherlock.


  • To enjoy a playtime:

Cats are, by nature, very playful creatures. Just like many other funny and comic activities, kneading is also one of their favorite ones. They love playing like this whenever they feel bored or want to uplift their mood. Whether it is a moving toy or an unused rope or some hangings from the wall, they love to play with those things by moving their paws in a rhythmic motion that works as a stress buster and makes your kitty a happy one. Pamper them with their favorite toys to make sure that your cat’s involvement in such activities makes them happy and enjoy their playtime.



So, here we have discussed most of the possible and probable reasons of why a cat kneads. Now let’s focus on some other aspects of your cat’s kneading habit. As every activity of the pets makes their owners either happy or worried, depending on the nature of their actions, let’s talk if you should worry about your cat’s kneading or not.


What to do about your cat’s kneading?

We all know that cats have a bad reputation of not being so friendly at the beginning. But once it gets to know you well, and feel the safety and comfort in your touch, it will befriend you as soon as possible. As you now know that why cats knead, so when your kitty starts to knead onto your lap, be sure that it has started being comfortable with you and wants to mark your lap as its own bed or the most convenient place. Try to comfort it by patting or indulging in some kind of playful activities with it.


However, in doing so, there is a risk of getting scratched on your skin. But don’t think of punishing your cat as that innocent little creature doesn’t have any idea that its kneading might hurt you. It’s only the cat’s way of showing their love for you or communicating with you.


If it hurts, try to place your kitty onto a soft surface like a sofa or blanket, or you may create a barrier between your skin and your pet’s paw by putting a towel on your lap. Also, you can trim your kitty’s nails regularly with a claw trimmer like Pet Republique Dog and Cat Nail Clippers and Nail Grinder Series. It will ensure your safety from their scratches and will strengthen the bond between you and your kitty.

As evident, you don’t have to do anything much about your cat’s kneading. Just let the little ones enjoy their playtime and watch it to enhance your mood.

However, you still need to be a little bit conscious about your cat’s mood while it starts kneading. As your cat’s mental health depends on and is reflected from its temper, you must observe a few things in your cat while it’s kneading.


Below we have listed down the different moods of a cat, why they knead during such moods, and how you should handle them.

The Mood of the Cat

Reason behind Kneading

Things You Need to do for That

Kneading in an aggressive mood

Your kitty might press on something aggressively without showing any politeness. Instead, it may hurt others or tear up something with a grumpy face. You need to take your cat to a veterinarian to know if your kitty is delving into depression or not.

Kneading with a sense of curiosity or fear

Sometimes your cat kneads with much curiosity or fear on its face to know about the object it is interested in or feeling afraid of. Find out the object they are curious or afraid of and comfort them by making them understand that it’s safe, and it won’t harm them.

Kneading in the air by lying on their side

If your cat is a female, and this kind of behavior is seen in the cat, then she’s probably trying to attract a male partner for mating. Find a male cat for your queen and let them do their natural process of mating.


Have you ever thought of training your cat to not to knead?

If you have thought, then it would be a suggestion for you not to do so. First of all, not all cats have the habit of kneading, so notice that if your cat exhibits this kind of behavior or not. If it does knead, then it’s a very natural kind of gesture often seen in any feline creature to involve themselves in a sort of fun-filled activity that keeps them healthy and makes them happy. Kneading not only de-stresses your cat, but it is also similar to the human habit of stretching to relax their muscles. So, don’t train them not to knead as it can make your cat a depressed and stressed one. Let them play the way they want.



Instead of giving them training for not to knead, take the possible precautions for your safety, and play with your kitty. Their lovely feline gestures will also work as a stress buster for you. So, let your kitty knead you, and get flattered by their affection and love for you. Also, pamper your kitty with Johnson Pet Products Catnip Pillow Sacks Two Pack Crazy Cat to encourage your Kitty’s kneading habit.


Wrapping Up

There is not any sure reason about why a cat moves its paws in a certain way resembling kneading. The reasons, as mentioned above, are the probable ones. Whatever the reason may be, this cute gesture of a cat is undoubtedly a treat to watch for a cat-owner. Such behavior of the cats adds some extra happiness and joyous vibes to your home. So, all you need to do is sit back and pamper your little kitty to encourage its kneading habit and enjoy the affectionate bond between you and your beloved pet.

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