Why Do Cats Like to Knead? A Guide To Kneading

Kneading is the act of what looks like giving a massage where your cat pushes a surface with one paw at a time alternating paws. Some cats my even use all four paws to knead.

This act is called kneading because it looks just like how a baker would knead a ball of dough.


It is very common for cats to enjoy giving what looks like a kitty massage (known as kneading) to a certain area of your furniture, a blanket or sometimes even yourself or another cat or dog!

While kneading is undoubtedly cute and very endearing many cat owners are unsure why their cat does it.

There are a number of reasons why your cat may knead listed below:

They Knead For Milk

Kneading is instinctively done by nursing kittens when they are very small to help encourage the release milk while they are feeding.

Kittens associate their kneading with comfort and the reward of delicious warm milk so it is thought that cats continue this behaviour well into adulthood to help themselves feel comfortable.

They Knead To Spread Their Scent

Cats have scent glands in their paws so by kneading an object (or person or animal) they are marking it as their own.

Kneading can be seen as a way for cats to mark their territory which is much more dignified than the dog method of urinating on anything and everything!

So if you cat gives you a massage don’t be fooled, there’s nothing sweet or cute about it they are simply marking you as their own personal belonging!

To Check There Is Nothing Hiding In Their Bed

Domestic cats descend from wild descendants who most likely were at home in the forests and fields. The habit of kneading their bed before they lay down would have been essential to ensure that there were no nasty bugs or snakes waiting beneath the grass to bite them as soon as they lay down for a much needed nap!

This is also one of the reasons why kneading may sometimes involve claws. This isn’t so nice if they happen to be kneading your leg but is very effective in causing unwanted creatures to flee from your bed!

Cats Knead When They Are In Heat

Female cats are known to be particularly pro-active kneaders when they are going into heat. Kneading is a clear sign to any male cats in line of sight that she both needs and is ready to mate.

Also Read:
If you’re not certain whether your cat is male or female read our article on how to tell the sex of your cat.

It Helps Them Loosen Up

Cats love a good stretch, all that sleeping means that a good stretch helps to wake them up, the same is true for kneading, it helps warm up their joints and keep them feeling limber and loose.

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