The Low-Down: Exploring Why Cats Knead

Relaxing at HomeIt’s that time again…You’ve just settled down with a cup of tea and a book. The blanket? Perfectly draped across your lap. It’s time to get real comfy, right? Well, you’re not alone.

Your cat’s observation skills are always at their zenith, and your super-cozy lap will never, ever escape their  keen powers of observation. Let the kneading begin!

Quite possibly the only behavior you can predict from your cat is the one that perplexes you the most. What is this methodical pawing on a soft surface that sends all cats into a zen-like state? We may not know conclusively, but we do have some ideas on why cats knead.

Signal The Baker

Making biscuits, happy paws, mashing potatoes, playing the piano…Whatever you call it, cats knead as a result of the following possibilities:

  1. Trigger The Flow Kittens knead to start the flow of mother’s milk. Fully grown cats continue this throughout life due to the positive association linked to maternal warmth, goodness, and nourishment.
  2. Territory – Felines are instinctively territorial, and scent glands are conveniently located in the paws. When cats knead, they are saying “Mine. All mine!”. Lucky you!
  3. Getting Ready – Wild cats tend to bed down in brush or tall grass. Kneading may be passed down from this behavior. When your cat does this at home he or she is preparing the bed for a nice dose.

Comfort and Security

While purring isn’t always connected with happiness or peacefulness (cats in pain tend to purr, too), kneading definitely is. We can only theorize why cats knead, but we can point to the fact that felines do it to feel trigger all the good feelings. Or, perhaps they feel good already and then begin to knead (and purr)…It’s a mystery, but it’s a happy one!

Cats Knead, You Bleed

It’s unquestionably adorable, but sometimes when cats knead their claws come out. Protect your skin by covering up with a blanket or pillow, and keep those nails trimmed for extra protection. Likewise, your upholstery and linens can be direct targets; place towels on the corners so your cat’s claws can tear them up.

A word of caution about scratches, accidental or otherwise, regarding the bacteria that can lead to cat scratch disease – especially in children. Wash any scratches with soap and water and watch for any symptoms that may develop over the course of a week.

Loving and Lovable

Whether you appreciate it or tolerate, cats knead to satisfy some deep-seated demands. At the very least, we can hopefully agree that spending some quality time with your kitty is a great way to pass an afternoon.

If our veterinarians or helpful staff can assist you regarding why cats knead, please contact us.

posted in:  The Cat's Meow