cat kneading on tan bed

Why Do Cats Knead?

Kneading, making biscuits, working overtime at the dough factory, whatever you decide to call it, this cat quirk is adorable yet somewhat strange. So why exactly do cats knead? And furthermore, is my cat’s kneading normal? And how can you make it not hurt!

 

cat and woman snuggling on couch
Sweet Pea taking cat nap on a lazy Saturday!

Reasons for Kneading

  1. Instinct– Cats in the wild tamp down grass before they go to bed at night to make their sleeping area more comfortable. They walk in circles and knead the area to make it as soft as possible¹. Furthermore, kittens knead their mother’s while nursing to increase milk flow and to communicate with their mother’s that they are content¹. If you’ve ever noticed a cat with a blanket in their mouth while kneading, this innate kitten nursing behavior is why they are doing that. So instinct plays a big factor into why your feline friend kneads so much!

    kitten in mom's lap
    Minnie sitting with mom while she works!
  2. Smell– Cats are smell-driven creatures. If your cat likes to rub up on all your furniture and even your leg, it’s just their way of saying, “I like you so you should smell like me!”². This is a cat’s way of marking their territory. When you sit down for your favorite TV show, and your cat hops up on your lap and starts making biscuits, it’s them getting their scent all over you because they like you and want you to smell like them. It’s comforting to them when the people they love smell like them.
  3. Stretching– Do you ever get in bed after a long day and stretch your legs and toes, and it’s the best feeling in the world? This is similar to cat’s kneading before they take a nap on your lap! All the stretching and extending of claws feels good for them and helps them to settle in and relax for a long cat nap².
  4. Reinforced— Whether you realize it or not, you probably reinforced this behavior! Because it’s universal knowledge that a cat making biscuits is the cutest thing in the world, your reassuring pets and soothing words while they are doing it tells your cat that you love when they do this! And since your cat loves you, they will keep doing this behavior so they can get this reaction out of you again².

How to Make Kneading More Comfortable for YOU!

If your cat uses their claws while kneading on your lap, this can seriously hurt. Stay up-to-date with their nail trimmings or have a designated “kneading” blanket so you can’t feel their claws while they make biscuits³. Never punish your cat for kneading– it’s instinct at the end of the day, so this will just leave them frustrated and confused. If you’d like your cat to get off of you, distract them with a toy or a laser toy!

Also consider these bSerene products to encourage your cat to knead on a pillow or their bed instead of your lap! Simply spray the item you would like your cat to knead and allow 15 minutes for it to dry before giving it to your cat. The pheromone-based spray will persuade them to use that item instead of your lap to knead. Now everyone is happy!

cat on human's lap
Sweet Pea enjoying mom’s lap!

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Related Articles: Do My Children Know How to Interact with Dogs and Cats?, Feral Cats: Do You Know the Facts?, Cats Rule the House this February!

Recommended Products: 

  1. Blankets

  2. bSerene Calming Spray

  3. Cat toys

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¹ Llera, Ryan, BSc, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM. “Why Cats Turn Around Before Lying Down.” VCA Animal Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-cats-turn-around-before-lying-down#:~:text=Some%20cats%20knead%20the%20rug,included%20in%20the%20bedtime%20ritual. Know Your Pet.

² Radosta, Lisa, DVM, DACVB. “5 Reasons Cats Knead (and How to Keep It From Hurting!)” Daily Paws. 15 July 2022, https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/behavior/common-cat-behaviors/why-do-cats-knead. Common Cat Behaviors.

³ “Is My Cat’s Kneading Normal?” American Animal Hospital Association: The Standard of Veterinary Excellence. https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/ask-aaha/is-my-cats-kneading-normal/#:~:text=Kneading%20to%20convey%20comfort%20%E2%80%94%20Happy,create%20a%20soothing%2C%20calm%20mood. Ask AAHA: Answers from the experts

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Jessica

    My cat Link kneads my shoulder when I pick her up at night. She is not a fan of being held but only for this one moment. I always look forward to it!

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      That’s so sweet!

  2. Alex

    My cat does this on my pillow in the morning and its the cutest thing ever!

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      My cat, too! It’s the best way to wake up 🙂

  3. Chuck

    My cat like to knead when she’s comfortable and chillin on me. <3

  4. Mary M

    My cat must knead before she goes to bed for the night. That’s how we can differentiate between her playful cuddles and sleep time cuddles!

  5. Ashley W

    Gotta make those biscuits!!!

  6. Matt

    My two year old cat Loki does this every time I pick him up and it’s the cutest thing ever! I call him “crazy paws”.

  7. James M

    My dog does this

  8. Michelle

    I have two cats that love their jobs at the biscuit factory and I swear I can’t fall asleep before I get a good kneading 😄

  9. Phoebe D

    So cute!! Very well written and great explanation. Love my cats and their biscuit making.

  10. Jessica Coopwood

    My cat kneads me all the time, and more often than not, it really hurts! So thank you for the tips on how to prevent painful kneading because I absolutely love when my kitty lays on me. I am going to have to try that spray for sure.

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      You’re welcome! Let us know how the spray works for you!

  11. Amy Turner

    My cat still kneads and suckles a blanket, even though he is an adult cat. We figure it’s at least partly due to the fact that he was still a little kitten while at the rescue. We don’t mind it, we think it’s adorable!

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      You’re right– it’s an instinct from when they were nursing as kittens! Whatever the reason, it’s so cute!

  12. Elizabeth B

    I love my cats affection, kneading is so sweet especially while we cuddle.

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      Cat cuddles are the best 🙂

  13. Gwenyth

    I am very fortunate that my cats have learned how to make biscuits without using there claws!
    🙂

    1. gracegilman@hollywoodfeed.com

      That’s awesome!

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