Cat owners know when their fur-baby starts kneading with their paws that their kitty has reached a place of extreme happiness. And even though those claws are sharp and dig into flesh, many cat owners let their cat do it anyway. So why do cats knead? Are their reasons besides happiness that bring the claws out? This article will examine the reasons why cats knead.
What Is Kneading
Kneading is sometimes called making dough or making biscuits. It’s the stepping motion, one paw at a time, when a cat lifts a paw, curls it a bit, puts it down, and immediately picks up another paw. Cats will knead on soft blankets, pillows, other pets, and you. Some cats only knead with their front paws and others do it with all four paws. Some felines will extend their claws and others don’t. A loud purr usually accompanies the making of dough. But one thing is certain, cats seem to be content with life when they knead. Sometimes they will become so relaxed that they will appear lost to pleasure and will drool while in this state.
12 Reasons Why Cats Knead
There are many reasons why cats knead, some of the reasons are:
- Association With Kittenhood One of the reasons cats knead is it’s probably an association with all the warmth and reward from when kittens knead on their mother to stimulate the release of milk. It’s instinctive behavior. It also released oxytocin which keeps the baby-mother bond strong. This is throwback behavior when a cat is happy. Sometimes cats will suck on a fluffy blanket when kneading.
- Affection It’s likely that cats use kneading as a way of showing affection to their people. Cats feel safe and cared for with their human family, same as with their mother in kittenhood.
- Self-Comforting Cats probably use kneading as a self-comforting behavior.
- Relaxation When cats are super relaxed, they may knead. The more relaxed kitty becomes, the more likely she’s heading for a nap.
- Territorial Marking Cats are very territorial. And kneading is a way cats mark their territory, which could be a blanket, furniture, or you. They have scent glands on their paw pads, and kneading gives them a way of marking their favorite things as their property. It’s clearly intended as a message that the items in their range, including you, belong to them.
- Heat Females in heat may knead as they show a bit of friendliness toward a male cat.
- Making A Nest Queens will also use kneading in nest making when they are close to delivering kittens.
- Sleep Spot Cats also knead to “fix up” a place to sleep. This is likely instinctive behavior. It is the same as when big cats prepare a nap place in the wild.
- Stretching Cats will also knead when they stretch after a nap.
- Attention Seeking Another reason a cat kneads is attention seeking from their person. This is a way of letting you know they want to be petted and made over.
- Stress Relief Cats may also knead as a way of releasing agitation at something or someone.
- Security It’s possible that kneading brings cats a sense of security and calmness.
What Is Obsessive Kneading
This is a behavior disorder that develops in cats who are suffering from anxiety. It is more common in indoor cats than outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats. Obsessively kneading becomes a coping mechanism for the feline. This behavior may release chemicals that are pain-relieving and assist with coping. If your cat is displaying obsessive kneading, you should contact your veterinarian for a full exam for the cat to rule out health issues.
Can You Train a Cat Not to Knead
Kneading is a natural behavior and it’s not really possible to train a cat not to indulge in it. Besides, it’s a bonding behavior your cat shares with you. But there are things you can do to keep yourself from being your cat’s pincushion. It’s understandable to not want your nice clothes to have snags and holes pulled into them. You’ll want to have alternatives to slide between your flesh or clothing and your cat’s paws. A nice, soft, thin blanket, a small pillow, or even a toy between you and those kneading paws will save your clothes…and skin. You can also try redirecting your cat by gently moving her onto whatever you would rather she knead on and offering a little treat reward. But you should never try to make her stop completely. It won’t work and kneading is something she’s doing because she loves you and loves your attention.
Kneading is a natural and normal behavior for cats that can never be completely trained away. There are many reasons why cats will knead, such as happiness, stress, self-comforting, self-calming, and security. Kneading is also a bonding activity with the people cats love. The origin of bonding can be traced to kittenhood when a kitten kneads on her mother’s stomach to stimulate her to release milk. Those feelings and responses will be with a cat for life. In a sense, cats who knead on someone give the same feelings of love and security they shared with the first love of their life, their mother. That’s a high honor for a person to receive from a cat.