Have you ever seen your cat make biscuits? If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s that motion cats make when pushing their front paws (and sometimes claws!) in and out. It resembles kneading bread dough, hence the phrase “making biscuits.” It can be cute and funny when your cat jumps on your lap and kneads contentedly, but it can also be painful!
Cats Knead for Comfort and Safety
The most common theory for why cats knead is that it’s a behavior retained as adults that they learned in kittenhood. When nursing, kittens knead their mother’s mammary glands to promote the flow of milk. When your cat kneads, they may be associating the motion with a feeling of contentment and comfort. To lend weight to this theory, some cats have been known to suckle the surface they’re kneading, such as a blanket or clothing.
Cats are territorial animals. They also have scent glands in their paw pads. Kneading emits your cat’s own distinctive scent that’s discernable to other cats, but not to humans. Therefore, kneading could be a way for your cat to mark their territory, signaling to other cats that this is their special spot. By kneading on you, your cat is actually communicating that you belong to them – the highest form of feline flattery.
Making Their Bed
If you watch a cat knead, it might remind you of someone arranging pillows and blankets on their bed, trying to get comfortable before settling in. This theory claims cats knead as a carry over from ancient wild feline behavior. In the wild, cats tramp down grass and foliage, removing sticks and burrs to “make their beds.” Kneading could be a leftover behavior from your cat’s wild ancestors and a practical way to make a spot comfortable for resting.
If Your Cat Needs to Knead You
You know that when your cat kneads you, they’re saying they love you. But it’s hard for owners to feel relaxed with sharp claws digging into their laps! Here are some tips on how to share this sweet time with your pet:
- Make sure the nails are trimmed on a regular basis. We can help with that, if you’d like!
- Keep a blanket or towel nearby that you can place on your lap (folded as many times as you need!).
- Try to encourage your cat to knead elsewhere – but most of us don’t want to miss out on kitty love in this way!
Remember, never punish your cat or get angry with them for kneading. This behavior is natural and pleasurable for them.
If you have any questions or have another theory about why cats knead, please give us a call!