Why Does My Cat Knead? February 06 2019, 5 Comments

Making biscuits. Kneading the dough. Whatever you may call it, the adorable and somewhat baffling cat behavior of "kneading" often leaves many cat owners scratching their heads. Many adult cats knead, which is when a cat works their paws back and forth on soft objects like blankets, their cat beds, and even their humans. But why? Why do cats have the need to knead?


They're Reliving Their Kittenhood.

One reason cats knead is that it is a leftover behavior stemming from kittenhood that carries into adulthood. 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're kneading (blanket, pillow, or their human). It's thought that this kneading behavior is a way for cats to self-soothe and bring themselves comfort.

They’re Scent Marking.

Another reason cats knead is it allows them to leave their scent on their favorite objects and stake their claim. Cat paws are actually equipped with hidden scent glands, and when they knead (or 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 pretty much 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 MY house! So if your cat kneads on you, take it as a compliment. They’re claiming you as their human!

They’re 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 a natural part of cat instinct before settling down for a comfortable catnap.


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