A large, fat tabby cat upside down.
A large, fat tabby cat upside down. Photography ©ColleenB_Pics | Thinkstock.

5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading

Whether you refer to it as "making biscuits" or just plain old cat kneading, we've found a few reasons for the puzzling behavior that is cat kneading.

Ever wondered: Why do cats knead? Why does your cat stomp on her favorite bed or blanket (or your leg or chest) with her front paws, as though making dough for biscuits? Ever wondered why cat kneading seems to make her high, intoxicated with sweet memories of springtime and youth? Here are five cool things about cat kneading, aka cats making biscuits.

Note: This is to be read on a knead-to-know basis. (Warning: There will be puns.)

1. Cat kneading is hypnotic

A black cat hissing, claws out, being aggressive.
Photography ©Robert Redelowski | Thinkstock.

Cats can become so relaxed while kneading that they enter a trancelike state, complete with drooling and a thousand-mile stare. “Hey, Bubba Lee Kinsey, where’d you go?” I’ll say to my gray tabby when he really loses himself in the moment and achieves a Zen-like state of enlightenment, which can only be broken by the sound of my other cat eating something Bubba wants.

2. Cat kneading is comforting

Your cat has been kneading since she was a kitten — in fact, she kneaded her mom’s belly to stimulate the flow of milk while she was nursing. This instinctive behavior is comforting to your kitty and can take her back to simpler times, much the way that eating a giant plate of macaroni and cheese and drinking some electric blue Kool-Aid can make you feel like a kid again (at least until you finish and realize your skinny jeans are, like, way tight now).

3. Your cat is kneading to tenderize you so she can eat you

Cat kneading is called “biscuit-making” for a reason: Your cat is tenderizing your gamey flesh so you’ll make a meal fit for a queen. Not really! She’s just trying to soften your cold, cold heart — by way of your lap, of course.

One reason cats knead is to make a soft bed or clear a space to doze. Their ancestors did this with tall grass or leaves; they do it with your jeans. This can involve claws. Sometimes it hurts — but it’s always nice to know you’re kneaded. If the cat kneading is painful, try redirecting your cat’s knead-iness to a pillow or a blanket, and keep her claws trimmed. Never punish your kitty for kneading, though, because the behavior is instinctive.

4. Your cat is marking you as her territory

Your kitty has scent glands in her paws, so when she’s kneading you she’s also marking you as her own personal human. Yes, that’s right — your cat officially owns you. Stop acting like you didn’t already know.

5. Your cat might be a needy cat

Sometimes cats knead when they want something. Maybe you’re too involved with your computer monitor or that Law & Order marathon for their liking. Maybe they want treats, and they want them now. Maybe they just want scratches behind the ears in that special place only you can reach.

One thing is certain: When cat kneading combines with solicitation purring, you’re really in trouble. If you haven’t heard of solicitation purring, odds are you’ve experienced it. Surprising no one, cats have developed and honed a purr that sounds vaguely like the cry of a human baby, and is specifically designed to manipulate us. It’s how your cat gets you to let her lick out your cereal bowl. And it works. Every time.

Tell us: What do you think of cat kneading? Does your cat knead you?

Thumbnail: Photography ©ColleenB_Pics | Thinkstock. 

This piece was originally published in 2015.

Read more on cat kneading on Catster.com:

40 thoughts on “5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading”

  1. My neutered cat, 10 years old, has been spraying in nearly every room in the house. He will spray on my dressers, closet doors, walls, blankets (but never on my bed), washer or dryer, bathroom wall, etc. Etc. Why? And there are no other cats around the area. Besides, I also have a LG. dog.
    He has been doing this for years. He's such a loving and personable cat too. Why this terrible behavior?

  2. I adopt an abandoned grey adult cat just a few months back due to winter cold I feel bad to the cat name Polly. So I started letting her in, got her home comfortably with everything cats should need. She seems potty trained and good manners and Very independent but i can tell she has a wild on her and very vigilant. I understand that part for being strayed for who knows how long.
    But anyway lately she started kneading me I was in surprised for that behavior as I’m sitting in the recliner. Ever since this becomes routine ritual. I don’t allow her to sleep in our room. But every morning she’ll call us by the door and I’ll come out to pet her and I’ll seat again by the recliner and repeat the ritual of kneading up to 8 minutes. It’s funny and i feel creepy but it does relax both of us hehehe my husband asked when I went back to bed where have you been? I replied well, baby i just replaced you with a cat! I’m officially a crazy cat lady lol. My first time cat owner as I’m just feeling sorry for that homeless grey cat. Also just last week I started spotting her friend’s cat a greyist with white chested look male to me. I thought does Polly has a boyfriend or that cat wants to be adopted? I don’t know what Polly told him but I can only afford to house one cat.

  3. My cat likes to knead my dog. The dog puts up with it for a while until she really gets into it then the dog just gets up and moves.

  4. My cat likes to knead my soft blanket on my bed while I am watching TV. She puts her cose right into the blanket and I get slobbers. He makes his hind feet go at the same time.

  5. My 2 year- old boy cat likes to knead on my legs as I sleep at night. He definitely looks like like he is in a complete trance as well.

  6. My flatmate’s cat sleeps in my room. She had a cat igloo but outgrew it. Now I bought her a half furry half polar fleece blanket to sleep on to get her off my pillow. She kneads it all the time with that “looking right through you” expression. Good buy, now she’s off my pillow for most of the night and seems pretty happy.

  7. Pingback: 5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading – Info Body

  8. Pingback: 5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading – Pet Grooming And Pet Care

  9. Pingback: 5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading | PetTraining.org

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  11. My wife is pregnant and hopefully due soon. We have a Male tabby that just kneaded her belly. Can anyone tell me why? Lol btw thanks for all the laughs!

    1. Hi there,

      Congrats on your upcoming addition! These articles might provide some further insight into cat kneading:

      Please call your vet or doctor with any concerns about your cat’s kneading.

    2. it is because your cat know your wife is pregnant and is trying to comfort both the baby and the mother. it can also be trying mark its scent, cats have scent pads on the paws that they use to find scent

  12. My wife is pregnant and hopefully due soon. We have a Male tabby that just kneaded her belly. Can anyone tell me why? Is our baby alive and well? Or am I just freaking out? Lol btw thanks for all the laughs!

  13. One of my cats gets on my back when I have laid down to go to sleep and starts kneeding and purring at the same time. It makes me feel wonderful and I must fall asleep because that’s the last thing I remember until I need to get up and use the bathroom! She gets off (very slowly) and when I get back to bed she has to start all over again! I love this about her!

  14. I have to chuckle reading everybody’s comments! My cat started kneading my stomach, but then I bought her own little bed and since then she methodically kneads her bed everyday. She does look like she’s in a trance ????

  15. Yoda has his favorite blanket that brings out the baker everytime he lands on the woolen goodness. Drool and all, it’s his,

  16. My cat kneads my stomach almost everyday. When I turn over hoping she will do my back, she runs off. I guess she just likes the “softer” side of me.

  17. Pingback: Why Do Cats Knead? 5 Reasons Your Cat Kneads You – Cats Expert

  18. Pingback: Cat Kneading: Why Cats Knead Things (& People) With Their Paws

  19. My cat needs and crys it’s not a purer that sounds like a baby cry it’s a more like she needs or wants something. She usually wants a snake but she obviously isn’t asking for a snack. I just don’t know if she is in pain. She has just started it but the bed is in a new location. The female Persians is about 15 years old and healthy as for as I know. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Sonya,

      These articles might help you figure out what your cat is looking for:

    2. My suggestion would be to ignore her. She would eventually learn. My would do the same thing until I started to ignore him. Cats are smart. When you feel that cat has finally calm down then proceed to her attention. Do not let her run you. You are the boss. It’s going to take time. Be patient. If she knows where the treats are, put then in a different place where she doesn’t know where they’re at. Then when you are ready to give her treats don’t let her see where you hid them.
      Good Lick. ????????????

    3. I’m sure you mean-snack. Not “snake” im sure your meow may be curious of a snake. Mine is with my 8ft boa. They even play together now. Of course im supervising it. My boa js a gental giant and would be be-headed if ever he hurt my beeboo(thats my kitty if you rearrange the letters it spells boobee cause shes a giant tit ????

    1. This sounds like it might be true. We found a little kitty who needed a home he was outside cold & hungry. That’s all he does is kneed every thing

      He should have been with his momma for a few more weeks by his size

  20. I believe I have a suggestion, if you did not already receive it.
    Cats like dogs can sense sickness, such as oncoming heart attacks, etc. Your cat is comforting your husband because he/she understands (in their way) he has limitations.
    Fantastic Senses they have.

  21. My male kitten, who was finally neutered, likes to knead soft blankets and clothes but he appears to be humping while doing so. Would love for him to stop. How?

    1. Hi Terri—

      Here’s more on cat kneading. This should be a harmless behavior, but please chat with your vet if you have any concerns:

  22. My Lucy makes biscuits on my lap every evening on the couch (and usually multiple sessions on the weekends). It is our ritual and I love it soooo much. She doesn’t look like she is in a trance so much as she looks very, very serious about her kneading duties. It’s the cutest thing.

  23. My first wife raised her little black kitty Ptolemy from a two day old kitten, and even before his eyes opened he would knead her as she would lay on her bed and hold him close. He developed a particular fondness for her hair (straight and very long) and would spend many hours as a kitten, happily running her hair through his claws and toes. One day she was napping, so I gently held up some of her hair and, shaking it a little, said “Ooooooh!” to Ptolemy as he watched. He immediately came to knead. Every single time after that, if either of us went “Ooooooh!” his little head would swivel around, his eyes would get big and he would race over to play in her hair. He was a very funny cat.

  24. My husband is bed ridden for the most part. The cat is truly mine. I feed her, comb her, feed her treats, pet her, clean her litter box three times a day, and play with her for a few hours a day,m yet she will knead my husband and not me. Since she does not have the ability to purr I would like her to knead me also, but she refuses no matter what I try. I keep trying to figure out why!

  25. This is good to know because my cat needs alot up against my walls and blankets. she has her eyes closed and she is also purring.

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