Making biscuits. Kneading the dough. Cat parents call it a few different things, but to most, it is known as "kneading." This is when a cat works a (usually soft) object back and forth with their paws - as if they're kneading dough.
Kneading is a form of self-soothing for felines.
So, why do cats "make biscuits"? It's thought that this kneading behavior is a way for cats to self-soothe and bring themselves comfort, especially if they are stressed or anxious.
It's a natural behavior that many behaviorists believe can be traced back to their "kittenhood." Nursing kittens will knead the area on either side of their mother's teat, an action thought to stimulate milk flow. This may also explain the reason why some adult cats will suckle at the object they are kneading (blanket, cat bed, even their human).
It also helps them express affection and happiness, which makes it easy to tell when your cat is feeling content!
If your cat is a frequent kneader, makes sure to supply them with a soft cat bed or blanket that they can safely knead and/or suckle on.
It's their way of marking their territory.
You may have noticed that your cat kneads you when they're happy or content, and this kneading behavior may serve a dual purpose. While it brings them comfort, your cat may actually be scent-marking you as "theirs." Cat paws are actually equipped with hidden scent glands, and when they knead (or even scratch your furniture), pheromones are released onto the object.
Every time your cat kneads, she is also leaving behind her scent--effectively claiming her favorite objects as hers. These pheromones are undetectable to our human noses, but other cats or animals in the home will be able to sniff out that message loud and clear: This is mine! So if your cat kneads on you, take it as a compliment. They’re claiming you as their human.
Kneading releases endorphins.
When cats knead, they are releasing endorphins and create a bond with the object being kneaded.
Endorphins are a natural pain reliever that can help reduce stress. This is why you will often see your cat kneading when they're feeling stressed or anxious--it helps them feel safe and secure in their environment.
Kneading also helps cats to feel loved; they use this behavior as way of communicating affection for their owners or other animals in the household (such as dogs). When you watch your cat kneading on your lap or chest, it's important to understand that this is not an act of aggression or dominance. Instead, it's a way for them to reassure themselves that they are safe and loved by their human family members.
It helps cats regulate their body temperature.
Cats can also knead to help regulate their body temperature. When you watch your cat kneading, it's easy to see how this process works: The cat moves its paws in a rhythmic motion over an object (usually you), which helps increase blood flow through the body and distribute heat throughout. This can also help prevent hypothermia by promoting warmth in cold weather climates, but it isn't just for keeping cool--kittens who are born during warmer months will still engage in this activity because it promotes growth as well!
It's a cat's way of making their beds.
Some cat behaviorists also believe that kneading could be a leftover instinct from their days as wild cats. Kneading may be an instinct that harkens back to when wild cats would pat down tall grass or shredded leaves to make a soft, warm bed for sleeping or giving birth. Through the ages, the behavior continues to be a natural part of cat instinct before settling down for a comfortable catnap.