Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?
If you’re a cat owner, you’ve likely experienced your furry friend coming up and kneading on you. Have you ever wondered why your cat does this and what it means? Some cats like to knead you or other areas around them. There are a few reasons why your cat may be doing it!
What is Kneading?
Before we can talk about why your cat is kneading you, we should talk about what kneading is. Kneading, or “making biscuits,” as some people affectionately call it, is when a cat pushes its paws in and out in a rhythmic motion. They typically will do it on a soft place, such as a blanket or a bed, but you may find them doing it to you from time to time as well.
Usually, cats will knead with their front two paws, but some may knead with all four. Either way, kneading is typically a sign of comfort. The term kneading comes from the act of kneading dough for bread, which is why some people say cats are making biscuits while kneading. The similarity of the actions makes it easy to make the connection!
Reasons Why Your Cat is Kneading You
Now that you know what kneading is, you may be wondering why they will do it on you and not just a soft location. There are many possible reasons your cat may be kneading you, so let’s look into them!
Some cats will knead you in order to ask for comfort. If your cat is feeling down or even scared, they may use this motion as a way to let you know. If your cat is kneading you and is showing other signs of distress, you should reach out and gently pet them to let them know they’re safe with you!
Preparing to Sleep
Many cats will knead an area that they are planning on laying down on to take a nap. Think of it as your cat adjusting their pillows and blankets like we often do before lying down. In fact, this is a behavior that is seen in feral cats as well, as many will knead piles of leaves or other “soft” places before lying down. If your cat is kneading you, it may mean they’re about to take a nap on you!
Sometimes your cat will knead you simply to let you know they love you. Kneading you is a sign that they trust you and they find you to be a safe place. This is why it’s important not to punish your kitty for kneading you, even if it hurts. Next time your cat is kneading you, know that it’s their way of saying, “I love you!”
The act of kneading is a way for your cat to mark their territory. Your cat has scent glands all over their body. Many of them are found on their paws. The act of moving their paws back and forth on a surface will leave their scent behind, letting others know that the area belongs to them. This means that if your kitty is kneading you, they are likely trying to mark you as their territory.
Thinking Back to Kittenhood
When cats are born, one of the first things they do is knead. This is because it helps stimulate milk from their mother. It’s an instinct for your cat, and it often sticks around throughout their lives. Some cats may even drool while kneading you, especially if they were taken from their mother at a young age.
Some cats may be kneading you simply to get a good stretch in their paws. If your cat has some soreness in their paws or simply wants to have the great feeling of a stretch, this is a comforting way to do it! Your cat has a lot of little bones and muscles in their paws, and kneading is a simple way to make sure they get the exercise and stretching they need.
If you have a female cat who isn’t spayed, she may knead during her heat cycle. Many female cats will knead to let male cats know they are ready to mate. This behavior lets anyone around her know she’s relaxed, comfortable and ready to find a mate.
Sometimes your cat simply wants your attention, and they know that a great way to get it is by kneading you. Many times, your cat will also purr while kneading you to let you know that they are ready for some quality bonding time with you. Any time you have a content kitty kneading you, take the time to pet them, so they feel they’re getting the affection they desire!
Should You Stop Your Cat from Kneading You?
It’s no secret that cats have claws, and they can hurt you when you have a cat kneading on you. However, if you’re considering stopping your cat from kneading you, you may want to reconsider. Because kneading is a sign of trust and affection toward you, punishing them or stopping them may give off the idea that you aren’t giving your cat affection back, which can harm your relationship.
Instead of stopping your cat from kneading you, consider taking these steps to make sure your kitty is kneading you comfortably and safely.
Keep your cat’s claws trimmed so that they aren’t hooking. This will keep the pain level to a minimum when your cat kneads you.
Put a blanket or other soft material in your lap or the area your cat likes to knead you. This will let you have a soft, plushy layer between you and your cat’s claws.
If you simply don’t want to have your cat knead on you, try gently moving them to a different soft spot where they can freely knead, such as a blanket or a cat bed.
Do All Cats Knead?
When cats are young, they all likely knead to get milk from their mother at one point or another. However, not all cats will continue kneading into adulthood. No matter which category your cat falls into, know that it’s normal! Many cats will knead as adults for comfort or simply out of habit, while others will just grow out of the habit as they get older. No one knows for sure why some grow out of it while others don’t, but just think of it as an extra form of love and affection if your cat is kneading you!
Kneading is a completely natural habit that many cats will take part in for a variety of reasons. While we don’t know the exact reason why some cats knead into adulthood while others grow out of it, we do know that kneading is a sign of affection and trust when your cat is kneading you. Take the steps needed to stay comfortable while your cat is kneading you, but never punish them for this cute habit!
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