A Wish to Squish: Why Do Cats Knead?
Cats have a pretty strong repertoire of absolutely adorable – and distinctly feline – behaviors that have endeared humans for centuries. What else could explain their sheer dominance on social media and video platform sites? They are, in short, purrrr-fectly entertaining.
In addition to the variety of funny feline behaviors, there are actually reasons why they do what they do. Take, making biscuits, for example. Cats need to knead, and we’ve got a few explanations pertaining to this cute kitty behavior.
Why Cats Knead
Upon landing on a super soft blanket, pillow, or person, a cat of any age will instinctively press their front paws into the comforting material, right then left, and repeat. Known as kneading, making biscuits, doing the cha-cha, playing the piano, or mashing potatoes, this feline behavior has deep roots.
Kittens press on their mother’s belly to stimulate the let-down of milk. When they rhythmically apply pressure, they are rewarded with nourishing milk. The connection between the action of kneading and feeling satisfied are inextricably linked for life.
While they aren’t expecting to drink milk from a blanket or pillow, cats knead to trigger feelings of warmth and contentment. They feel safe when they do it, the behavior seems to settle them, and it’s so cute to watch or be a part of.
If you are chosen by your cat, and they knead on or near you, they are showing you that they love and trust you.
Mine and Yours
When cats knead the scent glands between their toes end up marking the surface as “theirs”. Again, if your cat does this on you, take it as a compliment. You belong to them!
Some cats get so into kneading that they appear to be in a daze. You might even see them drooling with pleasure!
In the wild, many cats make beds on the ground. They may make several passes in a circle to press down overgrown or taller grass. Once they have a big enough space, they may lie down and start kneading.
If your cat kneads on your body you may end up getting clawed from time to time. You can reduce potential damage or injury by keeping your cats nails trimmed. Please remember that scolding or punishing your cat for simply answering their instincts is not a good idea. Simply redirect them to another area and continue to give them love and praise.
We just love cats and appreciate their quirky behaviors. We hope you do, too!
If you ever have questions about feline behavior, or concerns about your cat’s health and wellness, we’re always here for you at Bowman Veterinary Hospital.