Cats are often quite perplexed by the strange and wonderful things they do behaviors. Kneading is one of the most iconic feline behaviors. This is a common feline behavior but it is often misunderstood.
If you’ve come across this article, you have probably noticed this behavior in a cat and are wanting to know more about it. Why do cats knead their cats? This is what it is called, making biscuits. What makes your cat knead?
We’re here to help with all the answers to your questions about this.
What is kneading, you ask?
First, let’s look at the definition of kneading. To “massage or squeeze with the hands”. Or, in this instance, paws.
Cats are, in a nutshell: Kneading can best be described as the rhythmic pawing often with alternating paws as if preparing dough — hence, it’s also referred to as ‘making biscuits’. If a cat has ever gone to town in a biscuit-making frenzy on your leg, you’ll know that it’s like getting a cat massage. Sure, this sounds super relaxing, and it is… until the claws come out.
Why do cats bite blankets and knead them?
SmurglingKneading is a behavior of cats that includes nuzzling, purring, and salivating. It can also include nuzzling, purring and salivating as well as blanket biting. This is like taking the art of making biscuits to the next stage. This is a perfectly normal cat behavior, so there’s no need for concern.
Why do cats make biscuits from cat food?
For cats, kneading is a natural activity. If you’ve ever watched a cat kneading away on a blanket or your thigh (RIP leg, right?), then you know how happy and almost Zen cats appear when they’re rhythmically pawing away. Sometimes cats can get so excited about kneading that it becomes almost aggressive.
There are other reasons cats knead than just enjoying the motion.
We’ll start by throwing it back to kitten life. When young kittens are nursing, they will knead their mom to stimulate the mother’s milk production. This is a safe, happy time in a cat’s life when momma is on hand to cuddle, clean, and protect her babies.
As the cat grows older, they may continue this kneading behavior as a way of reliving the comfort and warmth of their mother’s love.
Kittens that are removed from their mother too early tend to hang on to this juvenile trait more, but when kneading is carried into adulthood it’s usually because cats associate it with their momma and the safety that they felt while nursing.
Happiness and comfort
This leads us to the next theory about why cats knead. Kneading is one way cats show us they trust us and love us. A cat making biscuits in its happy place is a cat that is happy.
What does it signify when a cat kneads your? It’s confirmation that your cat has formally adopted you as their replacement parent (congrats!). Unfortunately, while you’ll feel overjoyed at having such an honor bestowed upon you, it also sometimes comes with the searing pain of your cat’s murder mittens shredding away at your flesh (in the cutest possible way, of course).
While it’s tempting to jump up, shriek in agony, and send your cat scurrying, we recommend not disturbing the moment. No matter how difficult that may seem. Your cat is trying to show love to you. They’re completely unaware that this might be painful for you. It would be a terrible thing to abandon your cat right now.
For this very reason, it’s a good idea to keep Sir Pounce’s nails trimmed. And maybe try to have a thick cat kneading blanket between your soft skin and those razor-sharp claws…
Kneeling is a form nesting behavior. Your cat is simply making their chosen place more suitable for their high standards. They’ll paw away to soften a pillow or to create a cozy little hollow in a fluffy blanket where they can curl up for a good ol’ catnap.
For an animal that can spend up to 18 hours a day asleep, it’s essential to have a good spot to snooze in. And if it isn’t just right, your cat will knead it until it is. Kneading can be used to massage a particular sleeping spot to make it more comfortable.
A cat’s world is driven by scent. A cat’s body has various scent glands that produce pheromones that cats rub off as a way of communicating with other cats. These pheromones are used to send messages between cats. They can linger long after their creator has gone. This is your cat’s way of leaving little scent notes for other cats.
Additionally to the glands that are located on their cheeks and flanks as well as at the base their tails, scent glands are found on cats’ paws. Kneading, therefore, is a way of spreading this scent to whatever they’re kneading.
This is done to notify other cats that the blankets, sofas, beds, or pillows have been claimed. Why do cats knead owners? To claim them, ofcourse! If your cat is kneading you, then, congrats, you’ve been claimed. This is your cat’s way of marking you as their territory and letting other cats know to back off.
My cat doesn’t knead!
Although many cats knead their kittens as kittens, it is not common for adult cats to continue this behavior. If your cat isn’t partial to a good kneading session, there’s absolutely no reason to panic. Your cat is not broken.
If your cat doesn’t knead on you, it doesn’t mean your cat loves you any less or isn’t happy. This simply means your cat prefers another way to express happiness or love. Cats also have different communication styles, just as humans do.
It’s important to get to know your cat’s body language and what they may be trying to communicate with you. That way, if their behavior changes, you’ll pick it up more easily. You’ll also cause less offense to your feline friend by responding to their communication appropriately.
Why is my cat no longer kneading?
There are several reasons why cats might stop kneading. The most obvious of which is because your cat doesn’t feel happy or comfortable. This could be due to stress or an underlying illness.
Evaluate your cat’s world. Has there recently been a significant or sudden change in your cat’s life? Your cat might feel stressed by a new family member, a new house, or a pet. Uneasy feelings can be caused by even small changes in furniture arrangement or new sofas. This could also be caused by a recent illness.
Once your cat is able to adjust to the change and has recovered from any stressors they may resume their kneading. If you’re concerned, it’s always best to consult a vet and rule out any potential medical issues.
It’s also important to remember that a new cat will most likely knead you more to smother you in their scent. Once they’re satisfied you’ve been suitably claimed and they begin to feel more secure and settled in their new home, they may knead you less and the behavior may taper off.
How to stop your cat kneading
Kneading is adorable, and we’d always encourage you to let your cat knead to their heart’s content, but there are situations where you may want to discourage kneading. This is especially true if your cat is too enthusiastic and causes injury.
First and foremost, don’t punish your cat for kneading. It’s a very natural and healthy behavior and your cat may react aggressively to being punished. It can also damage the relationship between you, your feline friend, and cause a loss of trust.
Instead of trying to get your cat stopped kneading you can redirect their kneading instincts more appropriately. This way, your cat doesn’t feel stifled and can still express their cat-ness, and you can protect your body or belongings. Win-win.
These tips will help encourage good kneading behavior.
- Keep kitty’s claw neatly trimmed or invest in silicone nail covers;
- Redirect your cat’s attention using toys or treats. This way you get them to stop the shredding, but they don’t feel rejected;
- You can train cats to knead only in certain areas. Use pheromone spraysYour cat should only eat biscuits on certain furniture or blankets.
- Be sure to praise and reward good kneading behavior. Positive reinforcement of good behavior is better than punishment for wrongdoing.