6 Must Know Things about your Cats Favorite Obsession

Posted by donna@pethangout 04/06/2017 0 Comment(s)

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We have all witnessed the kitty that has gotta "knead" their place of rest before settling down.    It is a curious ritual that makes you beg the question, "Just why do cats knead"?

Kneading, or affectionately termed, "making biscuits", is when a cat will use their paws in a massage like fashion to push and pull the material they are targetting to use for bedding. It could be a blanket, pillow, couch, or yes, it could even be you and your lap!   The kneading sometimes involves a single spot or the entire area where they want to relax.   You may hear purring and cute kitty gizmo noises while they are working hard too.    Let's explore several causes that may lead to this interesting act.


6 Awesome Reasons why your Cat may have the need to Knead:

  • Feel loving and affectionate -  Your cat may just want to express their affection toward you.   Humans will hug and kiss to show warm feelings.  But what can cats do?   By the mere fact that a cat chooses you to "knead" or sleep close to says a lot.    Cats will gravitate to where they feed loved, accepted, and protected.   If you see a cat kneading close to OR on you, consider yourself loved and trusted by your favorite feline.  It is a honor indeed.

CJ kneading a pillow



  • Create a soft sleeping spot –  Even if their chosen spot is already ultra soft, a cat must still go through the motions of kneading.   Consider this - cats have not always  been domesticated.   When they were totally in the wild, there weren't soft fluffy blankets and pillows to nest in.    They really had to put forth work to create a soft place.    Their natural instinct led them to use their claws to soften leaves, brush, and grasses.   We coined the term "kneading" because  the activity's  purpose is to shape or mold their spot into exactly what they would like it to be - much the way we mold dough into the consistency we would like it to be.

CJ's claws hard at work kneading a pillow



  • Nursing throwback – Have you ever watched a newborn kitten nurse their mother?    What are their paws already doing?   They are kneading on each side of the teet.   Instinct tells them to do this to stimulate milk flow but it is also for comfort and satisfaction.   So from a very early age, a cat learns to associate this activity with good things - relaxation, happy feelings, and total peace. 

​​​Kitty after kneading and ready to sleep



  • Spreading their scent – Cats love to mark their territory just as dogs do.   One theory is it is a way to spread their scent on their bed.    This "laying claim" action ensures that other animals will not come along and try to steal their spot.     It also reassures a mother's kitten that the area is their home and safe place.   They may also be spreading their scent on you!   I mean, you are THEIR human you know.    If you can stand it, you should.   They aren't trying to hurt you - only mark you because they love you.   ;-)Kitty kneading their human's hand



  • Relaxes the cat -  Happy endorphins are released into their bloodstream when they do anything that makes them feel happy.   Not much different from humans, is it?   The massaging and comforting movement gets their blood pumping and happy chemicals flowing.   It prepares them for a long sleep so they can wake up refreshed and ready to play again.

Kitting sleeping with paws tucked after a good job kneading



  • To send a message - If your cat is in heat, it could be a sign that they are available and ready to mate with the love of their life.   Since love, comfort, and feel good hormones are tagged with this activity, it is certainly reasonable to think they would do a little bit of kneading when they are trying to attract a mate.    This type of "work" displays motherly instincts and sends a message - very loud and clear to any prospective suitors.

CJ resting after some hard work kneading



In summary, I definitely feel that there are many hidden reasons for a cat's kneading ritual.   It could be a combination of reasons or as simple as your cat is tired and ready to bed down for a bit.  It’s a natural, instinctual, and comforting performance that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy no doubt!   

Watch CJ as she kneads this pillow in all directions.    She has a strategy where she rotates her body around the entire pillow.    Observe how she uses her back legs to assist so she can cover more ground.    I think it is safe to say she was very successful in making this pillow her own.


Do you have another theory why a cat kneads?

Let us know below - we would love to add it to our post!

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