The Need to Knead: Why Do Cats Knead?

Why do cats knead? The kneading habit starts when they’re still kittens, but there are still cat owners who are not aware why their feline friends do it. There are even historical theories that describe such cat behavior as a wild cat’s way of creating a temporary resting place on foliage or grass a.k.a. “nesting”. This act of alternate paw-pushing (using either both front paws or all four) on your belly, lap or any soft surface could be painful and irritating, and your cat has no idea about what you really feel at all. But one things for sure, their reasons for kneading point towards one direction and it’s a positive sign: AFFECTION.

Kneading is actually an affectionate form of body language for cats because:

  • They want more milk from mommy, or they want to feel young again that it becomes a habit. It’s what you can call juvenile stimulation behavior on the mammary glands and it releases endorphins — a win-win situation for both mommy cat and baby cat. Cats also tend to knead as they grow up to feel secure and cared for as they relive their “kittenhood”, to have that same level of security and comfort they get from their moms (especially when they feel sleepy).
  • They like you back. Kneading with their claws is how they show that they appreciate their humans a lot, all the more while you’re petting them. Make sure to put a cushion or blanket on so you won’t feel that much pain when their claws come in contact with your body.
  • They can be very territorial with you and the things they want most. Cats have this strong sense of ownership over people, places and objects that manifests through kneading upon activation of their scent glands on their paw pads.

Cats need affection, hence they knead. They also knead when they get what they need. Let us know by telling us via social media where your kitty likes to knead!

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