Cats are curious and fascinating creatures, and kneading is one of the strangest things cats perform. This cherished hobby has various euphemisms over the years, such as “making biscuits,” but most cat parents are unclear of what the procedure actually means or achieves (though they may be reasonably positive that their cats aren’t making biscuits—or any other baked good).”
Kneading appears to be a pleasant activity for cats, as many will purr blissfully, “zone out,” and even drool while doing it. But what makes them feel better? And, more importantly, what urge motivates the behavior in the first place? Unfortunately, no one is certain.
What Makes Cats Knead? There are a few theories:
- Kneading to convey joy or relieve stress “Whatever the actual reason for kneading, one thing is certain: cats knead is a happy cat,” writes Virginia Wells of PetPlace.com. While we don’t know why cats knead, everyone appears to agree that they do – and perhaps the reason cats knead is as simple as that.
- Kneading the dough to create a pleasant sleeping surface. According to PetMD, cats’ wild ancestors would knead grass to create a nice sleeping surface. After all, cats knead before they sleep. (This is similar to the concept that dogs twirl in circles before settling down to flatten grass in their resting spots since their wolf ancestors did so.)
- Kneading to supply nourishment Another common misconception is that kneading is a vestige of childhood, when kittens kneaded against their mothers while sucking. According to Catster.com, “one somewhat obsolete concept holds that cats that knead were separated from or weaned from their mother too early, and hence continue the kittenish tendency into adulthood, however almost all adult cats knead, regardless of how or when they weaned.”
- They’re kneading to establish their dominance. Cats have smell glands on their paws, and her aroma is inevitably transmitted to the surface on which her paws are working while she kneads. “An adult cat kneads to demonstrate contentment, to relax herself when she’s feeling stressed, or to tag a person or object with her smell from the sweat glands in her paws,” according to VetStreet.com. So, whether it’s a bedspread or your pajama bottoms, your cat could be leaving a trace of her presence.
Kitty’s Kneading Claws Staying Off Your Lap
While kneading may be calming to your cat, if she kneads with her claws out, it may have the opposite effect on you. Here are a few suggestions for allowing your cat to bake cookies without turning your legs into raw dough:
- Keep your cat’s claws clean (without cutting below the quick).
- Learn how to clip your cat’s nails.
Train her to knead somewhere else by gently removing her from your lap whenever she starts.
To keep her from kneading, pet her or offer her a toy.
Allow her to sit on your lap only after you’ve wrapped yourself in a huge comforter or blanket.
Don’ts When Cat-Kneading
You should also avoid doing certain activities in response to unwanted kneading. Never use force or loudness to punish your cat for kneading. Negativity does not sit well with cats. It is also not a good idea to have your cat declawed due to kneading. Declawing is a difficult and often risky procedure. Find out more about declawing your cat.
Celebrate the Feline Mystique of Your Cat
After everything is said and done, kneading is a habit that we may never fully comprehend. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be fascinated by it and our feline companions’ other intriguing and adorable behaviors.
Wondering about How to Teach a Cat Tricks? Check it out on our latest post!