I love cats making biscuits.
A gray kitten kneading on a rug. Photography © FatCamera | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cats Making Biscuits: All About Cat Kneading

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Do you have a kneady cat? Most of us do, and the act of “making biscuits” is actually a completely normal feline behavior. Also known as kneading, cats making biscuits is the rhythmic back-and-forth of paws pressing against a soft object like a blanket, sweater or human lap. The action looks like a fuzzy little baker kneading dough — hence the cats making biscuits description. Most of us think of a cat engaged in the activity only with his two front paws, but some kitties are talented “bakers” and use all four! Occasionally the kneading turns into a full-fledged dance of sorts.

There are a few possible explanations for what’s going on with cats making biscuits:

  1. During early kittenhood, babies knead their mothers to stimulate milk production. Because there’s such comfort in that memory, adult cats may instinctually “go there,” even though they are way beyond weaned. Hey, if something feels nice, why not milk it for all it’s worth?
  2. Back in the olden days, our cats’ ancestors would create a soft place to sleep in the wild. This “nesting” is done by flattening the grasses around them. This could be why we see our cats “making biscuits” as they’re settling down for some shut-eye.
  3. Cats leave their scents on things (and people) they consider “theirs.” Dr. Julia Donnelly of Aspen Grove Veterinary Care says, “Later in life, kneading can also be used to mark territory by allowing the release of pheromones that are stored inside special scent glands located in the paws.” In fact, the paw pads are the only part of a cat’s body that sweats. Some believe that when a cat is kneading on their human, it’s his way of saying, “you’re mine!”
  4. Some experts believe that when a female cat is in heat (or estrus), she kneads and purrs. This is one way of letting males know she’s ready to mate.
  5. We know that stretching and staying limber is healthy for our bodies, and cats know that, too. The action of kneading is a great stretch and cats may be doing it for just that reason. There’s probably a “biscuit-maker pose” in the Cat Yoga dictionary.

When cats making biscuits turns painful

While kneading, cats sometimes keep their claws retracted and other times (yowie!) they don’t. Don’t ever punish your cat for kneading, even if his claws are digging right into your tender flesh. Instead, place a blanket or towel between you and the paws or shift the kitty to a different location with a soft object on which to knead.

You can also reduce the pain that might accompany cats making biscuits by keeping your cat’s nails trimmed.

Some final thoughts on cats making biscuits

Because cats have got the kneading motion down pat, they probably could actually whip up a mean batch of biscuits, right? 

Here’s the thing: even though our favorite felines seem to have mad biscuit-making skills, it doesn’t mean they should eat biscuits intended for humans. You keep the biscuits (yum) and offer your cat a tasty kitty treat instead. Now everyone’s happy!

Tell us: Does your cat make biscuits or knead? What do you call this behavior?

Thumbnail: Photography © FatCamera | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Read more about cat kneading on Catster.com:

  1. Why Do Cats Knead? Explaining Cat Kneading, a Quirky Cat Behavior
  2. 5 Fun Reasons Cats Knead
  3. Do You Have a “Kneady” Cat? And Do You Call It Kneading?

47 thoughts on “Cats Making Biscuits: All About Cat Kneading”

  1. Pingback: Why Do Cats Knead? Explaining Cat Kneading, a Quirky Cat Behavior – Petcobestfood.com

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  4. I live in Louisiana and bought the most wonderful, beautiful, loving, enormous kitten possible last October. He flew into George W Bush International Airport Houston Texas with two travel companions from Kiev Ukraine. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the cattery, the owner devotion. That said, for background. The biscuit making topic came up and I realized….I never noticed but my Ransom didn’t make biscuits. Never not once and showed no inclination. I became interested possible reasons he didn’t which all I had was …. possibly his kittenhood. But, one day he stood with his front paws on my tummy. With his huge copper eyes softly look into my soul……he lifted one paw followed by the other…and my kitten had taking his first biscuit making steps. Marking his emotional recovery the stress of the journey. What do yall think? His name is Ransom.

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  21. Carolyn Miller

    I have a 9 year old neutered male cat. He kneads with all four feet. He goes into a trance , his eyes glaze over etc. Usually on the couch on a blanket or pillow. I have had to move him to sit down etc and if I touch him he reacts to me by meowing and getting mad, he has jumped off the couch and attacked our other cat . He just gets weird acting. So I have tried to discourage him when he starts to knead. I have never had a cat get angry if interrupted like that. I have only had him a few years.

    1. I have a 1 year old female cat who adorably kneads/makes biscuits with all four paws and she also goes into a sort of relaxed trance as well. I think this kneading is a very natural and instinctual behavior in cats—it’s good for them like meditation is good for us. Perhaps you would reconsider interrupting your cat when he is kneading— let him complete his kneading and then doze off for a relaxed nap— he will be more content and relaxed.

  22. we have 3 cats that are beloved family members & all do the “kneading” action
    6yo crystal is a ragdoll birman cross & being older doesn’t do it quite as much as the 2 younger boys who both do it heaps
    Puss Puss is a 3yo Bengal cross & does it heaps but I think its also to do with the fact that he is the “protector” of the household & fusses like a mother hen over everyone humans & animals alike he even gets upset & fusses if he hears a crying child outside
    then theres the baby of the family – 10mth old Simba who is a mini me version of Puss Puss lol
    as the baby & still a kitten, Simba kneads everything on a regular basis plus when he does he also makes this funny slurping sucking sound even though he doesn’t have his ;mouth or face on anything
    I’m tending to think that sometimes the kneading action puts cats in a hypnotic state of comfort & security & that’s why simba does this funny sound without realising plus why cats seem to “zone out” when doing this action
    either way its comforting to know that when our cats do this that theyre showing us they feel safe & secure with us & their home we create for them

    1. That funny slurp sound is them instinctivly trying to succle for mothers milk.. I hand rear manny kittens who have been orphaned and it is very common but usually stops (the slurping) when they get older. they usually will also have their tongue in a “taco” shape if you could see it.. They may also make a “guinea pig sound and if they do you probably have a very young kitten who still should be having formula.

  23. Our beautiful boy, who we lost to cancer at Christmas time was a big kneader. We used to call it playing “open shut them” (from the children’s song).
    He is dearly missed.

  24. (Warning: adult content) I had a cat when I was a youth who kneaded with all 4 paws, and at the end when he was done, he would turn over and lick his erm- private part that was all pink and hard. I never knew what that was until adulthood, and realized that the cat was probably masturbating. Has anyone else had that… um… experience with their cat? I’ve never heard of any other cat doing that.

    1. Hi Kate,
      You’re not alone. Here’s some more info on that subject:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/whats-up-with-cat-humping
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-health-self-pleasure-masturbation

    2. My dog licks his privates as well. He has done that for a long time but his look pretty red as well. We don’t really do anything about it because he doesn’t do it anymore; So there is probably nothing to worry about. :)

  25. All my cats knead and it is very sweet but I have one that likes to be held like a baby with her head resting on my shoulder. Sometimes she will just sleep, sometimes look out the window or sometimes like right now she washes my hair and my face. I think this is taking grooming to a new level.

  26. My cats are both 17 years old. They “make muffins” for all the reasons stated; but also I think they knead when they are uneasy about something as a way to self comfort, like humans might hum, meditate or pray. When that happens, I look for what is making them uneasy and always find something new to be more aware of in protecting them; once remedied, their kneading is accompanied with deep purring…ahh…gratitude!

  27. My boy Siyah loves to knead. He’s actually in a trance while doing it. He only kneads me. Nothing else. He especially loves my tummy. If his nails are too sharp I add another layer of protection. When he’s done he lays down on my stomach & then rolls over. I cradle him and rub his tummy.

  28. Charley always leaps onto my lap when he comes inside the apartment. He promptly gets into a position as if you are cradling a baby..turns and kneads my abdomen and boobs! We call it *baby time*…he’ll nap then suddenly jump off my lap and head for the den. He climbs to the upper shelves of the computer desk and promptly falls asleep again while watching what our other two cats are doing. Elektra will knead only on the brown fuzzy blanket on the den futon and Kenzi who is an F6 Savannah doesn’t knead at all. But he does stretch out on the computer desk in front of me and lay his head down on my arm and lick me. I think he knows that I cannot take his weight (no fat all muscle) of almost 25-28 lbs on my lap.

  29. “milk it for all it’s worth” – Oh, you went there! LOL.

    My Lili Bean kneads my arm while I’m lying in bed, both before I fall asleep and when I’m just waking up. It’s definitely a bonding behavior.

  30. Gigi kneads my thigh through the blanket before she goes to sleep on my leg. Sometimes she uses her claws but I lift up her leg for a second & then let her go back to her “baking”

  31. All our cats do this, even the elderly ones. We call it “ paddling.” I’ve always interpreted that motion as their remembered need of the comfort they received from momma. But even orphaned week old kittens that I’ve hand-raised ( who’ve had little to no time with momma) paddle when they are fed. I find it one of the most delightful traits of cats.

  32. My cat will be all rambunctious, running around, as soon as I put her on her green fuzzy blanket, she instantly calms down and begins to knead :)

  33. My cat Sydney on kneeds me until I fall asleep then he moves close to me and finds his spot to sleep right next to me closer after I receive my chemo treatments. He loves his spot in the window as soon as the sun starts coming up. He is so affectionate and attentive. Meets me at the door daily. And watches my every move he is a rescue and I’ve had him for going on 5 months. I saved him and he definitely saved me.

  34. My cat kneads to show affection…and the claws are sometimes in the way. He is so cute, though. Here in Italy we call kneading “fare il pane”, which means to “make bread”. Which is about the very same thing.

    cheers

    Irene

  35. Furball, she loves to knead and sometimes while she’s kneading. She will suck on the blanket or whatever she kneading. Someone told me that she was winged to early is why she does. And she is the most possessive cat I have ever had.

  36. My kitty Grumpy always kneads on my butt while I’m laying down. Her claws are sharp and it hurts but as long as it doesn’t hurt too much I let her finish her little “exercise”, as my bf calls it, and she usually falls asleep right after. But sometimes it’s too much to handle and my bf just picks her up off of me and puts her on a blanket.

  37. My kitten doesn’t knead :-( I miss it….wish there was a way to teach him how to knead. He was a rescue, so he was raised in a shelter from 5 weeks. Le sigh……

  38. My cat Baby loves to knead my arm and lick it. The other cats just enjoy kneading blankets or fluffy toys… Baby’s always been a little high strung but this seems to calm her down. LOL

  39. In fact, the paw pads are the only part of a cat’s body that sweats. Some believe that when a cat is kneading on their human, it’s his way of saying, “you’re mine!”

    Or it could be his way of saying “My paws are all icky with sweat, I’ll just wipe them off.”

  40. ‘Mantha (OTRB June, 2011) would often knead on my forearm while suckling at the inside of my elbow. Sometimes one or more of her claws were a little too sharp, and minor damage ensued. But it was just so sweet, I allowed it.

    One of the many things I miss about her…

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