Eight Surprising Reasons Cat Kneading is Common for Some Felines

Posted by Dr. Roth on

stressed cat kneading blanket

Any pet parent with a cat has most likely caught their feline companion kneading a blanket at some point. Others may have experienced their cats kneading their shirt while cuddling with them. 

Not all cats knead, but many do. While it may appear to be a strange cat behavior, particularly to those who have never had a cat or spent any time around one before, it’s actually perfectly normal. Some cat parents might wonder "why do cats knead?" when they don’t have to work overtime at the biscuit factory. Fuzzy vets explain that the behavior is actually quite simple and comforting for them.

Showing Happiness

Pet parents with cuddly cats may have experienced their feline kneading their lap. It’s a cat’s way of showing affection, not unlike how pet parents show their affection by petting. 

While adorable, this type of affection can be painful if cat kneading occurs on a sensitive area. Pet parents can lessen some of the pain caused by sharp claws by keeping a cat’s nails trimmed.

Making a Comfortable Resting Space

Some cats will knead their bed or a blanket before resting on it. The habit may be instinctual, stemming from how their wild ancestors would knead grass into a soft place to sleep. It’s almost similar to how dogs turn in circles before lying down. 

Marking Their Territory

Felines have scent glands located in various parts of their bodies. When they knead, they leave their scent behind, which tells other cats what’s theirs. They may lay claim to their bed, a blanket, a spot on the sofa, or even their pet parents by making biscuits. 

Stretching Their Muscles

Cats sleep a lot. One of the very first things they do upon waking up is stretching out. Pet parents may also notice their felines knead their bed, the carpet, or anything else nearby while they stretch. The act of kneading helps to keep their paw and leg muscles loose and limber while also maintaining their dexterity.

Relieving Stress

Like humans, cats can experience stress. Kneading can be a calming act, helping to reduce cat anxiety and make them feel more at ease much like a toddler sucking their thumb. 

Feeling Nostalgic 

Kneading typically begins in kittenhood. Newborn kittens knead to stimulate milk flow from their mothers. Even with proper kitten care, the habit can persist throughout a cat’s entire life. While kneading can be an activity to ease stress or mark territory, sometimes a cat is simply reliving the comfort they experienced from kneading in their youth. 

Easing Labor Pains

There are several signs a pregnant cat is about to give birth. One such sign is kneading. When a pregnant cat kneads, she may be doing so to help ease her labor pains. 


Kneading: A Seemingly Odd Cat Behavior with Many Possible Meanings

Cats can knead for a variety of reasons. They may be trying to alleviate stress, feeling nostalgic for their kittenhood, stretching their muscles, or simply letting their pet parents know that they love them. 

No matter what the reason, gaining a better understanding of feline behavior can help pet parents ensure they provide their own cats with the best care possible. Any pet parent who has concerns about their cat’s behavior or any other cat questions should seek cat care advice from a veterinarian or consult with an online vet like Fuzzy as soon as possible. 

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