ViviPet | What You Need to Know About Why Cats Knead

ViviPet | What You Need to Know About Why Cats Knead

ViviPet | What You Need to Know About Why Cats Knead

Making muffins, making biscuits, happy paws: No matter what you call it, your cat’s kneading has been a mysterious habit that has mystified experts for centuries. Luckily, there a few great theories about why cats do this bizarre behavior, though.  If you’ve been wondering why your cat mashes, kneads, and dances on you while purring, check out this article:


🐾What You Need to Know About Why Cats Knead🐾

Do cats really need to knead? Or is this habit just one more quirk that kitties choose to do? Well, for the most part, every happy house cat you meet will shift from one paw to the other and make biscuits at some point. This odd but adorable behavior is 100% normal. This doesn’t fully explain why our cats like to tap dance on our bellies and play piano on our blankets, though. Don’t worry. We will explain what cat kneading really is and why your cat kneads you.


🐈What Exactly Is Cat Kneading and Why Do They Do It?

Along with purring, kneading is completely normal for cats. In fact, most cats find it soothing and meditative to push one paw down at a time. You may have noticed your cat purring, falling asleep, or staring off into space while performing this unique ritual. While still quite mysterious, most experts agree that your kitty’s kneading is likely linked to one or more of these explanations:

  • Your cat’s feeling of safety, security, and happiness expressed through kneading harkens back to when they were a kitten. If you’ve ever seen a litter of kittens nursing, you may have noticed the same paw movement as they joyfully guzzle their mom’s milk in the soft and cozy comfort of their mom’s belly. This paw movement stimulates their mother’s milk and helps push it into their adorable little mouths. Well, when your adult cat begins kneading, there’s a good chance the level of comfort and elation they’re feeling has trigged them to reproduce this physical manifestation of purrre bliss. If your cat kneads, does it mean they were taken from their mom too early? Nope. This is a myth and not one of the signs that your kitten was removed from the mom too early.
  • Another theory is that your cat is ready to relax and needs a little de-stressing time. Because this behavior is linked to a sense of relaxation, some cats may get into the habit of using it as a way to relax. Think of it kind of like unwinding at the end of the day with a glass of wine and your favorite show.
  • Kneading may be a way for your cat to mark their territory. Just as scratching a post transfers your cat’s scent as a  way of letting others know, “This space and item belong to me-ow,” the same is true of kneading. Cats have scent glands on their paw pads that release pheromones. When they push on their favorite blanket, they are leaving their scent and letting others know that blanket is already spoken for and marking their territory.


  • Many people believe that cats, like dogs, use this paw movement as a way to soften an area or make it more comfortable to lie on. Pushing down grass and sweeping aside sticks would have been an everyday action for your cat’s ancestors. So, there’s a good chance the instinctual desire to make a bed still remains in domesticated cats (although this doesn’t explain why cats enjoy sleeping in boxes).
  • Many female cats will also knead while they’re in heat. This shows potential mates they’re available and ready.


🐈What Items Do Cats Knead On?

Cats knead items or people they love. They also choose to knead on what makes them feel most comfortable. This can be:

  • A blanket
  • Your lap
  • Your head
  • A pillow
  • A cat bed.


🐈Why Does Your Cat Knead You?

It’s a question that crosses the mind of every cat owner, “Why does my cat knead me?” The answer is simple--cats knead what they love most. You’re one of those things. Kneading not only expresses a cat’s comfort, but it’s also a way to show affection. While it’s not always the most comfortable thing in the world, kneading is a compliment in the feline world, and as cat parents, we have to embrace these small signs of love when they come.


🐈My Cat Kneads with Their Claws--What Should I Do?

Some cats extend their claws while kneading while others do not. If your kitty is one that clings to your clothes during the biscuit making process, or worse, accidentally scratches you, don’t panic or punish your cat.

Instead, of stressing out or not accepting your cat’s unintentionally unsweet kneading, place a thick towel or blanket on your lap for your cat to knead. This will keep you safe and keep your kitty happy!


🐈Happy Petting and Biscuit Making

While science still hasn’t proven exactly why cats knead, we know that cats enjoy it. So, let your cat knead away and keep a blanket nearby to keep your lap safe.


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