Why Do Cats Knead?
"Cat kneading also referred to as “making biscuits”, is a cat’s way of rhythmically pushing their paws in and out against a certain object."
Have you seen your cat or kitten pushing their paws back and forth? It is a common sight for cat parents to see their cats kneading. But why do cats knead? What does it mean when cats knead? In this article, we will discuss a number of popular reasons why cats knead and how you can keep this behavior from going overboard or causing damage to your household.
WHAT IS CAT KNEADING?
Cat kneading also referred to as “making biscuits” (as if they are kneading dough), is a cat’s way of rhythmically pushing their paws in and out against a certain object. This could be a blanket, a carpet, linens, the surface of your couch, and even their pet parents. If you’re wondering, “why does my cat knead me,” you might be delighted to find out that it is generally a sign of trust and comfort.
Not all cats knead, however, kneading is considered to be a common behavior in cats, both young and adult ones. You might find a cat kneading and purring at the same time or they may remain quiet when kneading. It is a common and natural action for cats, that can be due to a few different causes.
REASONS WHY CATS KNEAD?
What does it mean when cats knead? Depending on the context, it can be a sign of several different things. Here are some of the common reasons why your cat might knead.
To stretch muscles
Cats love to stretch their muscles after a good nap. Kneading is their way of working out all the kinks and keeping themselves flexible until their next nap. You might be able to identify a cat kneading to stretch if they frequently perform the behavior after naps or prolonged periods of laying in one spot.
To mark territories
It is common knowledge to most people that cats are territorial, and one of the ways they mark their territories, aside from spraying on them, is by scent-marking. Cats have scent glands located in their paws. By kneading, they are marking items they consider theirs. This may be more common if you have just added another furbaby or visitor to your household.
To develop a soft resting place
Why do cats knead blankets? Just like how some dogs turn in circles before they lay down on their beds or crates, kneading may also be a cat’s way of keeping their blankets and their sleeping place soft and comfortable. Looking back many decades ago, your cat’s ancestors were seen kneading grasses into comfortable and pliant piles for a resting place and this behavior may have remained instinctual in domesticated cats.
For possible mates
Female cats are seen to stretch, purr, and knead while lying on their side as a signal to male cats that they are welcome to approach them for mating. However, for cats who are ready to mate on the spot, kneading will not be necessary. Instead, they will raise their pelvis with their tails swept to one side.
As a lingering behavior
Kneading has also been regarded as a lingering behavior that stayed from when they were kittens. If kittens have been separated from their mother at an early age, kittens knead when they are being nursed. So, the habit may stick with some cats longer than others.
To convey comfort
Kneading is generally a good sign for cats. In fact, often, cats knead to show pleasure. They knead because they are comfortable. Common instances where cats are often seen to knead include being rubbed or scratched, or when they are snuggling in a nice, soft spot. An anxious cat may also knead to initiate a calming mood and help settle themselves.
To show they are happy
What does it mean when a cat is kneading? Well, a 2018 study characterizes cat kneading as a “communicatory behavior” that releases pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that flash and generate responses in cats onto objects. The study distinguished that cat kneading is a normal cat behavior but one that is pleasurable. Cats knead when they feel secure and happy. This is probably why do cats knead you!
ENCOURAGING APPROPRIATE KNEADING ACTIONS
Ultimately, there is no need to stop your cat from kneading, except when they are kneading with their claws out. Kneading with claws out may result in destructive behavior and may even hurt you or your family members.
To encourage your furbaby to knead appropriately, the following tips can help:
- Keep your cat’s claws trimmed, but do not declaw your cat.
- If your cat is constantly kneading on your lap, encourage them to knead somewhere else. There are pheromone-based sprays available in the market that will help your cat knead on more appropriate places.
- Offer them Pet Parents® Pawtect® Blanket to knead. These premium waterproof cat blankets are made with our proprietary Sherpup® multi-layer material which is made for comfort and coziness. These pet blankets are also designed to help prevent fraying and loose ends, making it safer for your furbaby to knead on them. You can encourage your cat to knead on these blankets to help prevent damage to furniture or scratches to yourself from your cat kneading on your lap.
- If your cat’s kneading is targeted to linens, beds, and other items at home being damaged, redirect their kneading to scratching their scratch posts or initiating playtimes.
- Do not punish your cat when they are kneading, with or without claws. Your cat is not attempting to ruin anything or upset you. They just want to be comfortable. Cats can be trained so give them some time to learn. When you punish them, they will just react negatively and may even develop the behavior to knead aggressively. Always work on redirection and positive reinforcements when training your cat.
Why do cats knead? Cats knead to express themselves and create a comfortable space. It is one of the ways they communicate with us. Whatever your cat’s reason is for kneading, it is a natural, common, and instinctual cat behavior. To prevent damage or injury from a cat kneading, provide appropriate outlets like their own blanket and scratching posts.
"Offer Pet Parents® Pawtect® Blanket to knead. These premium waterproof cat blankets are made with our proprietary Sherpup® multi-layer material which is made for comfort and coziness. "
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