Have you ever wondered why my cat is kneading on me? Sometimes referred to as “making biscuits,” kneading is a common behavior in cats. When kneading, cats push their front feet in and out with different claw effects. This slight scratchy behavior, with or without purring, is something cats of all ages do, but why?
Why do cats knead?
Kneading is a behavior that generally develops in kitten cats.
“Kneading can help stimulate breast milk, so most nursing kittens instinctively,” explains Dr. Jamie Richardson, Chief Medical Officer at Small Door Veterinary.
The behavior often continues into adulthood and can be a sign that your cat is really happy.
“Many cats will continue this behavior into adulthood, often when they’re particularly satisfied – it seems like calming, relaxing behavior for them,” says Dr. Richardson.
Related: 5 Fun Reasons For Kneading Cats
When do cats knead?
Kneading is a way cats express how happy they are, but kneading can also be a way cats can try to calm themselves down.
“A stressed cat can knead to calm itself down, as exercise can help create relaxing emotions,” says Dr. Richardson.
Kneading can also signal that a cat is feeling territorial. Dr. Richardson explains, “Cats have scent glands in their paws and when they knead they leave some of their scent behind. As a result, some cats may knead to mark their territory. “
And some cats may only knead because it feels good or just to stretch their paws. Kneading before napping is incredibly common, and cats can knead blankets, beds, or pillows as they prepare for sleep.
Should You Worry Your Cat Is Kneading?
In general, kneading is not a cause for concern. However, any sudden change in behavior is something to be aware and thoughtful about.
“If your cat suddenly starts to behave differently than usual (including more or less frequent kneading than usual) it may be worthwhile to have it checked by the vet to make sure there are no medical problems causing it behavior change,” advises Dr. Richardson.
Why is my cat kneading on me?
Not only do cats knead blankets, furniture, carpets, or beds, they can often knead people too, especially their favorite people.
“If your cat kneads you, they are most likely conveying their happiness and affection. You enjoy every interaction you have – whether you stroke it or just lie on your lap to cuddle, ”explains Dr. Richardson.
Essentially, when your cat is kneading, you should be feeling privileged as it likely means that your cat is very comfortable and values spending time around you.
Can I redirect my cat’s kneading behavior?
While kneading on you is very cute for cats, it can be uncomfortable or painful at times. To make kneading comfortable for you and your cat, Dr. Richardson instructed you to “trim your cat’s nails regularly and make sure they have adequate access to scratching posts to keep their nails in check between cuts.”
If you are still uncomfortable with kneading your cat, you can gently divert your cat by placing him on a blanket or pillow on your lap. This can be a great way to give your cat something to knead that is not your skin or clothes and make kneading comfortable for you, while still encouraging your cat to do a loving and enjoyable activity.
Featured image: Mariia Skovpen / Getty Images.
Read On: The Weird Science Behind Your Cat’s Paws