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Cat Kneading: Why Do Cats Knead

July 27, 2021 by The Spot Pack
why do cats knead

Why do cats knead, and what does kneading mean? When your cat starts to purr on your lap and soften its place before settling down, you may notice that they exhibit signs of comfort and security.

What does cat kneading look like?

When you see a cat take their front paws and push them back and forth on something soft they are 'kneading'.

This is why some people refer to the act as making biscuits or kitty muffins because the act looks like kneading dough. Cats knead on all sorts of things. From their bed to a blanket, a sofa or well-padded soft surface, cat kneading takes place anywhere, including a pet parent.

Kneading begins when cats are kittens but that does not mean it will stop in adulthood.

Cat Kneading: Why do cats knead?

Many cats begin kneading as kittens during the nursing phase and will continue throughout their entire lives for comfort, to soothe, and to mark their territory.

Some attachment theorists think that cats who knead as adults were separated from their mothers too early, and this act soothes them when they feel anxious.

Here are four reasons why cats knead:

A sign of love and comfort

Many scientists believe that knead as a sign of comfort and a way to show love to their humans. Many cats will purr while kneading, indicating contentment and happiness.

Some cats will even knead their humans’ laps. If your cat is kneading your lap, take it as a compliment! (1)

Happiness and feeling at ease is the most widely believed explanation for why cats knead.

ALSO READ: Is Your Cat Happy?

A territorial action

Other scientists believe that felines may knead to mark their territory or make a place more comfortable for them.

Think about dogs who turn around in circles before lying down. Cats may knead as a similar, instinctual action to make a place “cozier” before lying down.

Kneading may also mark their territory with their scent, telling other cats to stay away from their area. According to Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates, " Cats are territorial, and kneading may be a way to activate scent marking. Cats have scent glands on their paw pads, and kneading activates the glands."

Cats knead for mating action

If your female cat is unspayed, kneading can be a sign of her excitement to mate. Kneading may also spread her scent around more, possibly drawing more potential mates to her. (2)

ALSO READ: Fetch your free pet insurance quote today! 

Kneading is self-soothing

Some pet parents note that cat kneading is more frequent in skittish felines in comparison to other calm or confident cats. As a result, some people have theorized that kneading may be a way to self-soothe and unwind, which may be more beneficial for skittish animals. (3)

We may never know the exact reason why felines knead as they are mysterious animals, but it’s probably a compliment if your cat is kneading your lap!

We never know when something could happen to our precious kitten. So be prepared and sign up for a pet insurance plan with Spot today so that you can be reimbursed later on if your cat gets sick.

Fetch your free quote today! 


  1. American Animal Hospital Association
  2. Animal Planet
  3. LiveScience
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