Makin’ Biscuits: The Secret Behind Cat Kneading

Whether you’re tired, frustrated, or sad, all it takes to turn your mood around is your cat kneading without knowing how much happiness it brings you. A lot of cats knead on their partners. It’s a move exclusive for them.

cat kneading - cat paws

So, if your cat only kneads on you, consider yourself lucky. This move has a lot more significance than you know. Let’s look at this type of cat behavior and what makes this so gratifying for you as a cat partner.

What is Cat Kneading?

If you’ve made dough, you know what the basic idea is behind kneading.

But in the case of cat kneading, this action involves a rhythmic movement of their paws back and forth. They do so slowly and usually on something soft. But there are different ways some cats knead. Some purr when they knead, others use their claws (ouch!), and some even dribble while doing it.

Why Do Cats Like Kneading?

Kneading is an instinctive trait from the cat’s kitten-hood.

When kittens drink milk from their mother, they knead on their mother’s tummy to bring out more milk. In adulthood, when cats knead on something, you’ll notice that they often close their eyes, purr, and drool. And that’s because they expect the milk that would flow as a result of the movement.

Cats usually knead on softer objects like a cushion, a blanket, other cats, or you.

And while this does seem weird at first, you must not push your cat away when it kneads. They are simply showing you that they feel happy.

cat kneading lying next to a woman

Does Cat Kneading Signify Happiness?

In a word, yes.

Cat kneading is a sign of affection and love. When a cat kneads on you, especially if they do so when you cuddle them, this shows that they draw from this connection the same security and affection they used to receive from their mother. It means they value your relationship with them. And because of that, they knead on you. And the happier they are, the harder they will knead.

Further Reasons for Cat Kneading

While happiness and affection are often the main reasons behind cat kneading, these aren’t the only ones.

Sometimes, cats also knead because they want to stretch their muscles. If your cat kneads after waking up and arches its back, it means it’s looking for a way to get those kinks out. You could solve this problem by getting a cat scratcher so that they can knead and stretch their limbs on that.

cat kneading - cat stretching and arching

Another reason why cats knead is that they are marking you as their territory. (Yes, we all know by now that cats rule us, not the other way around!)

When cats knead on you, they actually mark you through the scent glands located in their paws. You don’t smell these pheromones. But other cats do, and this kneading action leaves enough of the scent on you that it signals them to back off.

Of course, when you wash yourself, the scent washes off you, and your cat starts the process all over again. Not that it minds!

Cats also knead if they are searching for a mate. If you have a female cat, you’ll notice it kneading the air, purring, and stretching on its side when in heat. Although, if your cat is spayed, she may not exhibit any such beckoning behavior unless the procedure was done relatively recently.

It’ll only be a lovable kneading session from her.

Should I Stop My Cat from Kneading?

You should never stop or punish your cat from kneading.

Cats are aloof creatures. As partners, we know cats show emotion as much as the next lovable dog. But we also know that cats are sensitive. If you punish a cat or stop it constantly from doing something it does when it’s happy, your cat will not take this lightly.

Kneading is a natural move for a cat and brings them a lot of happiness and comfort. It also marks you as one of their favorite people and shows how much they love you. Preventing a cat from exhibiting such behavior would be kneading on the hand of a woman


It Hurts When My Cat Starts Kneading. What Do I Do?

As stated above, cats sometimes knead with their claws, which can cause scratches and injury.

If your cat kneads with its claws, start by keeping its claws trimmed most of the time. Do not consider declawing, or you will be marked for animal abuse.

Besides that, use a soft barrier every time your cat comes onto your lap for some cuddle time. A thick blanket keeps you safe and gives your cat enough soft cushion to sink its claws as much as it wants. However, if you think this may encourage your cat to go harder with the claws, then distract it by stroking it gently, or use a fun toy to take its attention off the kneading.

If your cat persists, encourage it to knead somewhere else instead. You’ll find plenty of Feliway products that use pheromones-based sprays. This will encourage your cat to knead elsewhere instead of on you.

Feliway Cat Calming Diffuser for Cats
Feliway Cat Calming Diffuser for Cats
View on Amazon


My Cat Bites on the Blanket When it Kneads. What Does That Mean?

Every cat has its list of quirks, and biting a blanket while kneading is one such unique behavior. Typically, cats don’t bite when they knead.

But if yours does so, this only means that your cat is getting comfortable. We know that cats knead because of their kitten-like instinct. But when a cat has something in its mouth, this reminds it of the time when it would suckle on its mother’s teat.

Paired with kneading, your cat is simply reliving its time when it had no teeth, oodles of milk at its disposal, and a warm mom to snuggle with.


Cats knead when they’re happy and content.

If your cat kneads, this means you are giving it the best quality of life that it deserves. As a cat partner, you’re doing something right. So, instead of wondering why or how cats knead, sit back and enjoy the massage courtesy of those itty-bitty paws.

They may not make a significant impact. But you know an excellent kneading session with your four-legged best friend will do wonders for your mental health!

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