It’s hard not to smile while watching your cozy cat, knead the blanket or bed on which he is perched. These moments of pure bliss are so nice to watch that they even make the pain of a claw in your lap bearable if your kitty happens to be kneading your lap.

Although we know that we love cats kneading, many of us are unsure of why they do it. The team at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital loves to explore all the quirky behaviors of our favorite furry friends, and this one is no exception. Keep reading to learn more about why cats knead and what it really means when they do it: 

First Things First: Why Cats Knead

Kneading, or “making biscuits,” is the repeated movement of paws against a surface, and is seen in every cat from a tabby to a tiger. As with many cat behaviors, the true meaning behind the action isn’t officially known, but there are plenty of theories, including:

  • Instinct – When a kitten is still feeding from its mother, he or she kneads her stomach to get more milk to flow. The muscle memory of this motion is therefore associated with a nice memory of bonding time with his or her mother, which comforts your adult cat.
  • Territory marking – When a cat kneads, glands in the paws release a scent, which marks the territory and lets other animals know to back off.
  • A good stretch – Cat claws are constantly growing, and the repeated stretching motion of kneading is a way for the cat to shed the outer part of the nail that has outgrown its welcome.

Those Claws Are Out

The claws tend to come out naturally while a cat kneads, which can leave its mark on your furniture, window blankets, and even your body. If you want to avoid this damage, try to avoid punishing or scolding the animal. Instead, try the following:

  • Create a buffer with an old old blanket, towel, or pillow. 
  • Regularly trim your cat’s nails so they are at a manageable length (we can help with that).
  • Spaying female cats can reduce their increased kneading as they enter their heat cycle.
  • Try to divert your cat’s attention with a treat or toy if they start kneading somewhere you don’t want them to knead.

Understanding The Need to Knead

What we know for sure is that kneading comes from a place of comfort and contentment. If you think your cat’s kneading behavior is abnormal in any way, please give your team at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital a call. We are always here to answer questions about your pets.