Why Do Cats Knead?

One of the sweetest things cats do is to 'make biscuits'. It's even more adorable when they do it on your lap or while laying next  to you. Trixie does it every morning while we're still in bed. She purrs so loud while kneading the blankets...that's usually what wakes me up each day!

Cat kneading a blanket

If you think your cat holds you hostage from moving when she's sitting on you just wait till she starts kneading and purring. You're not going anywhere! I mean, how could you disturb such wholesome behavior as a cat pinning you down and loving on you?

While it's an adorable behavior, have you ever wondered 'Why do cats knead?' Kneading or "making biscuits" is a common behavior in felines. Have you ever noticed that your cat appears to knead their cat bed or your lap when they're happy? This motion of pressing their paws back and forth against a surface does imitate the motion you use when you knead bread dough. But, what does it mean?

Why Do Cats Knead?

So, why do cats make biscuits? No one is positive what it means when cats knead. But, experts believe they do this because it connects the motion of kneading to the motion they used when nursing as a kitten.

As kittens, a cat will press on the area around the mother cat's teats to stimulate the flow of milk. You may also notice your kitten kneading and biting the object they knead against for this same reason. This is an instinctual behavior that appears in almost all felines.

Nursing from the mother cat is a happy memory for your cat. So, cats often knead and purr when they are happiest for this reason. Not all cats exhibit this behavior. Some will make biscuits while they are very young and then outgrow it. It doesn't mean they are any less happy if they don't.

Why do cats knead before lying down?

So, why do cats do this before lying down? Sometimes cats do this before they lay down rather than when they're happy. If you notice your cat doing kneading, they may simply be doing this to create a comfortable sleeping spot. It may be related to the same type of behavior that causes dogs to walk in circles before they lay down.

In the wild, before cats were domesticated, wild felines would knead or walk on the area they intended to sleep in. This motion would flatten the branches, leaves, and undergrowth to give them a more comfortable spot to sleep.

Kneading while they stretch

Sometimes your cat kneads and stretches at the same time. This may simply be a way to wake up and get their muscles loose after a nap. It's similar to the way you stretch when you first wake up in the morning.

White cat kneading while stretching

Why does my cat knead me but not my husband?

When a cat makes biscuits on you, they are showing affection and happiness. They may choose to knead you and not your husband because they have a closer bond with you. It doesn't mean that your cat doesn't like your husband. It's just a signal that they feel a closer connection to you. At least at that moment.

Kneading with claws in or out?

Some cats knead with their claws retracted. And, others use their claws when they knead. It has nothing to do with how much or whether they like you. It appears to be an instinctual behavior. 

If your cat kneads or makes biscuits with their claws out, you might want to place a blanket between your cat's paws and your body to prevent the claws from going into your skin. Also make sure your cat does not knead anything with electrical wires in it like a heated blanket.

Another theory on why cats knead

The answer to why do cats knead isn't as simple as you might think. There are many different theories depending on who you speak to. One popular theory is that they make this motion to claim you as their own. 

Kneading can be done to mark their territory. There are small scent glands on the bottom of your cat's paws. So, she may be placing her claim on your or her sleeping area by kneading.

In summary

No one really knows exactly why your cat kneads or doesn't knead. It's a behavior that is observed in both wild and domesticated cats. So, scientists have come up with a few theories.

  • Felines knead when they are happy to simulate the kneading behavior they did as kittens.
  • Sometimes cats make biscuits when they stretch to work the kinks out of their muscles.
  • Cats may choose who to knead on based on how close a bond they feel.
  • It's possible that your cat may knead their bed or sleeping area to get comfortable.
  • Depending on the feline, your cat might choose to knead with claws in or out.
  • This behavior may also be done to mark their territory because there are scent glands on the bottom of their paws.

When Trixie kneads she doesn't bite the blanket she's on, but rather she presses her mouth against it. Her mouth stays closed, but she manages to drool on the blanket. Thatcher on the other hand likes to knead the air when he's on his back...but he's a whole 'nother story!

Does your cat knead, or make biscuits?


Want cat care and natural health information sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published!

No comments:

Post a Comment