Why Do Cats Knead?

why do cats knead?

Kneading is a common behavior in domestic cats.

In this article, we will look at what kneading is, its causes, whether it is a good or bad thing and some useful information that you should know as a cat owner.

What is kneading?

You must have witnessed your cat rhythmically moving its paws on your laps as if it is baking.

Cats, therefore, knead by pushing their paws in and out in an alternating manner. Most people refer to the process as baking biscuits because of the natural movement that resembles kneading dough.

Cats have different kneading behaviors.

While the motion of the paws is mostly constant, what follows after is usually different. Some will let out a loud purr after the process, while others silently get on with it.

Some types of cats knead with their front paws only while others use all four limbs. All in all, the resultant action that you get to see is more of baking biscuits.

Kneading provides an avenue for your cat to relax, and therefore, don’t be scared if it acts all glazed or relaxed afterwards.

Why do cats knead?

The animals we keep at home have different behaviors that we usually find unusual.

It is normal to get worried when you spot your feline friend behaving weirdly. However, do not freak out when you see your cat kneading.

Just like other cat behaviors, kneading in cats is inherited from a young age. It is, therefore, more of an instinct, and cats knead for many reasons such as to relax, to show they are happy, to stretch and to mark territory.

Kittens normally paw their mother’s tummies as they feed to encourage milk flow to the cat’s breasts.

You will probably spot your cats kneading on soft surfaces, such as your cushions or fluffy blankets.

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Why do cats knead?

Here are some of the reason why they do this:

i) To express happiness

An adult cat may knead when it is happy or contented. The natural kneading motion starts from kitten hood.

Cats, therefore, associate this motion with the comfort they derived while still nursing. It is not uncommon to see a cat suckle or stick its mouth in the kneaded surface.

ii) To stretch their muscles.

Cats are mostly asleep, and every time they wake up, they have to stretch. They, therefore, knead their paws each time they stretch for a wholesome body exercise.

iii) Marking a territory

People who stay with animals know how territorial they can get. This is common even in human beings. Kneading in cats activates the scent glands in the paws that produce pheromones.

Pushing their paws in and out in a rhythmic motion while on your lap can, therefore, serve as a way of warning other cats to back off.

This usually applies if you have more than one cat.

iv) To signify mating time

Animals have different ways of telling their male counterparts that they are on heat.

Therefore, your feline friends kneading may serve as a way of communicating this to the male cats. It is usually referred to as estrus.

Most of the time, kneading behavior is accompanied by other actions such as purring loudly and being too friendly. Your cat may also behave in a way, suggesting that it wants to go out.

It would be best if you also weren’t shocked when it assumes different mating positions. However, if you are tired, you can spay or neuter your cat.

v) Wild instincts

Domesticated cats were once wild animals, and therefore they kneaded to create a nest for resting themselves and their young ones.

Cat living in the wild paw at leaves or grass to make it conducive for them to spend their nights or days.

Your cat may, therefore, paw into a pile of clothes if it wants to rest.

It is normal. Wild cats also knead into the ground while checking for predators in the areas they choose to create a home.

You can learn how to understand your cat better by reading all about cat body language.

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Is it okay for my cat to knead?

Yes. Kneading in cats is okay. However, at times you might get hurt f, especially if it does it on your lap.

Kneading stems from instinct; therefore, punishing your feline friend for something natural shouldn’t be among your options.

Cats knead to show affection too. However, if you feel that it is too much, there are ways to go about it. If your cat keeps on piercing you with its claws, having a barrier every time you have it on your laps may be a good idea.

You can also make your cat lie down instead of standing on your laps. Stroking it as it lays down on your laps will help it settle and relaxed.

If this does not seem to work, get your cat a toy to keep it engaged. You can also get your cat a cat tree.

You should always keep your cat’s claws trimmed if you don’t want to get hurt from the constant kneading. Petting or holding the claw together when your friend is on your lap might also help.

Lastly, if your cat won’t just seem to stop, you can redirect it to a pillow or soft fabric so that you do not get hurt.

However, do not declaw your cat.They need their paws to reignite and kick in their natural instincts.

When should I control my cat’s kneading?

Even though kneading is a natural process, your cat can go overboard. It becomes obsessive some of the time, calling for taming measures.

If the kneading starts to be compulsive instead of natural, then it is time to chip in.

Male cats may also become more aggressive and even salivate as they knead. Ensure that you step in to keep other cats and your family members safe.

You should also stop the kneading if it causes harm or scratches to your or another cat.


It is normal for cats to knead.

Kneading is an instinct that cats have from birth. These amazing pets also knead to scare way rivals hence marking their territories.

Do not, therefore, scold or punish your cat when your cloth gets destroyed from the kneading, and instead, use the different approaches we have discussed.

Now that you have read all about “why do cats knead”, and different types of cats kneading behaviors, you may also enjoy reading about why cats lick people.

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Author: Cathour

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