Why Do Cats Knead?

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.

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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 Kneading

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.

Why Do Cats Knead? - Making A Nest

cat's pawsWhy do cats knead? Cats are equipped with scent glands in the pads on the bottom of their paws.

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.

Why Do Cats Knead? - Marking

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.

Kneading is only one of the ways that cats mark out territory.

When your cat kneads you, she is not only letting you know how secure she feels, but also letting other cats know that you are hers.

Kneading - A Mating Ritual?

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.

Kneading as part of sexual ritual can be a problem with male cats too, in fact it can be a major problem.

When kneading a human, male cats can get carried away confusing the action with pre-copulation behavior.

The kneading increases in intensity, claws will certainly be extended and the male cat will likely be drooling.

If allowed to continue, the cat will become very aggressive indeed -- male cats are very aggressive during sex – and the human substitute could suffer a nasty attack.

Neutering will reduce the chances of this happening. Unfortunately neutering does not completely stop this behavior with all male cats.

You should however seriously consider getting your male cat fixed, doing so will end a lot of problems.

Keeping your cat's claws trimmed will make it a little less painful when your cat is making biscuits on your lap, but do not even think about getting her de-clawed.

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.

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