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Do You Have a "Kneady" Cat? And Do You Call It Kneading?

There are many names for this excruciatingly cute habit -- but where does it come from and why does it make every cat lover melt?

 |  Sep 18th 2013  |   45 Contributions


Kneading. Making biscuits. Mooshie feet. Mashing potatoes. Pummeling. Playing the piano. Stomping grapes. Furry bliss. Doin’ da dance. Making bread. Happy paws. Milk treading.

Whatever you call it, you’ve got to agree that it’s just about the cutest behavior ever.

My cat, Bella, hasn't advanced to upside-down kneading ... yet.

There’s nothing quite as adorable as seeing a litter of newborn kittens lined up at Mama’s milk bar, purring and kneading as they suckle.


(In a reader? Watch this video here.)

When kittens nurse, they knead at their mother’s abdomen to help stimulate the flow of milk. Maybe kneading at a human’s breasts is similar. Alas, the results won't be nearly as rewarding.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

But if a cat nurses while she kneads, she’s probably showing you that she was weaned too early. When a prematurely weaned cat is kneading and nursing, she’s probably stressed and seeking comfort.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

When cats knead blankets or your lap, they’re showing you they’re truly contented and happy. When Siouxsie and her sister Sinéad were kittens, they’d get comfortable on my lap and purr and knead until they fell asleep. There’s nothing like hearing little tiny motorboat purrs and feeling those little paws flexing and stretching to make me melt into a senseless pile of goo!

When my muscles are stiff and sore, I wish my cats would give me a massage like this lucky woman is getting from her feline friend.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

You sometimes see cats kneading and circling around as they get ready to go to sleep. They do this by instinct in order to make their beds soft and comfortable. This kitty is clearly getting ready to take a long nap.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

I’ve seen cats grooming one another, but I’ve never personally seen a cat kneading another cat. This video is the closest I’ve ever gotten to this super-cute phenomenon. It seems like a gesture of kindness and friendship to me. If the other cat doesn’t mind the kneader’s ministrations, it can make for some serious awwwww!


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

Because cats have scent glands on their paws, kneading can also be a way to mark territory. When your cat is kneading you, she might be saying, “I love you ... and you’re mine.”

While looking for the videos I shared in this article, I saw a bunch of clips of cats kneading the air while they sleep. I can’t help but wonder what kind of happy things this kitty is dreaming about.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

Whatever the reason my cats knead, I consider it an honor and a pleasure that they find such comfort in my company. Even my Thomas, who kneads my fleece bathrobe and, judging from his other behavior while he’s kneading, loves that bathrobe just a little too much, is pretty darn cute.

Uh-oh: Thomas is making lovey eyes at my bathrobe!

Do you have a “kneady” cat? What do you call kneading? Share the biscuit-making love in the comments! Bonus points for photos and videos of your kitties in the act.

Read more about kneady cats:

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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