Why do cats knead? We have all seen cats kneading. That strange rhythmic pushing down, or paddling, of their front paws. First the left and then the right, left right, left right.
You may call this action making biscuits, making dough or paddling.
Cats love to knead something soft like a blanket, another cat or other animal, upholstery or quite often – you.
Sometimes cats retract their claws when kneading.
Most often though cats will extend the claws when they push their paws down.
Many cats can be heard purring when they knead as the action is comforting for them.
The action can be relaxing too, so much so that some felines dribble and drool when making biscuits.
It is quite likely that you find your cat's paddling a fascinating and endearing trait.
On the other hand, if your cat is in the habit of kneading you with her claws out, and perhaps drooling while she does, you may not like it too much.
Like it or loath it, at some point you will have asked yourself - “Why do cats knead?”
There is more than one answer.
Kittens knead around their mom cat's nipples to stimulate the milk flow. The theory is the kitten naturally relates the action of kneading with getting a pleasurable response.
Long after growing from a young kitten into a cat who is no longer dependent on mother's milk for survival, the feline still associates the kneading action with pleasure.
Long ago the wild cat ancestors of today's domestic cats trod down grasses and vegetation to make a nest for sleeping, or for birthing.
When your cat kneads a cushion, a blanket or even kneads your lap, it is naturally remembered behavior from way back.
The paddling is done to ensure a comfortable and safe place to nap.
Cats are equipped with scent glands in the pads on the bottom of their paws.
Kneading releases some of their distinctive scent onto whatever the cat wants to mark, this tags the object as part of the cat's territory and is a warning to other cats to keep away.
Some female cats that are approaching heat will knead like crazy. This is one of the ways that a female signals her readiness and desire to mate.
As well as kneading she will quite likely yowl like a mad thing, urine mark and pace up and down.
It is pointless to try and change this natural behavior, the only solution is to have your female cat spayed. There are many good reasons to get your cat fixed.
When your male cat starts to knead you, look out for signs that he is becoming excited. If the pace of kneading quickens, he starts salivating and acting aggressively, then get him off your lap - pronto.
So, we can see that there are several answers to “Why do cats knead?” And sometimes it is a cat behavior that you will want to prevent.