Why Does My Cat Knead Me?

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Have you ever wondered why does my cat knead on me? Sometimes referred to as “making biscuits,” kneading is a common behavior for cats. When kneading, cats push in and out their front feet with varying levels of claw action. This light scratching behavior with or without purring is something that cats of all ages do, but why?

Why do cats knead?

Kneading is a behavior that generally develops for cats in kittenhood.

“Kneading can help to stimulate their mother’s milk, so most nursing kittens do it instinctively,” explains Dr. Jamie Richardson, Medical Chief of Staff at Small Door Veterinary.

The behavior often continues into adulthood and it can be a sign that your cat is really happy.

“Many cats will continue this behavior in adulthood, often when they are particularly content – it seems to be a soothing, relaxing behavior for them” says Dr. Richardson.

Related: 5 Fun Reasons for Cat Kneading

When do cats knead?

Kneading is a way that cats express how happy they are, but kneading can also be a way that cats can try to calm down.

“A stressed cat may knead to self-soothe, as the motion can help to generate relaxing emotions,” says Dr. Richardson.

Kneading may also signal a cat is feeling territorial. Dr. Richardson explains that “cats have scent glands in their paws, and when they knead, they leave some of their scent behind. Some cats may therefore knead to mark their territory.”

And some cats may knead just because it feels good or just to stretch their paws. Kneading before napping is incredibly common, and cats may knead blankets, beds or pillows as they prepare for sleep.

why does my cat knead me
Photo: SilviaJansen/Getty Images

Should you worry about your cat’s kneading?

In general, kneading isn’t something to worry about; however, any sudden change of behavior is something to be aware of and thoughtful about.

“If your cat suddenly starts behaving in a different way to usual (including kneading a great deal more or less frequently than usual), it may be worth getting them checked over by the vet to ensure that there are no medical issues to blame for their change in behavior” advises Dr. Richardson.

Why does my cat knead on me? 

Not only do cats knead blankets, furniture, carpets or beds, they can often knead people, especially their favorite people.

“If your cat is kneading you, they are most likely conveying their happiness and affection. They are enjoying whatever interaction you are having – whether you’re petting them, or they’re simply curling up on your lap for a cuddle” explains Dr. Richardson.

Essentially, if your cat is kneading you should feel privileged because it probably means your cat is very comfortable and really values spending time close to you.

Can I redirect my cat’s kneading behavior?

Although it’s very sweet for cats to knead on you, sometimes it can be unpleasant or painful. To help kneading to be enjoyable for you and your cat Dr. Richardson advises you “ trim your cat’s nails regularly, and ensure they have sufficient access to scratching posts to help keep their nails in check between trims.”

If your cat’s kneading is still uncomfortable for you, it’s possible to gently redirect your cat by putting your cat onto a blanket or pillow on your lap. This can be a great way to give your cat something to knead that isn’t your skin or your clothing and make kneading comfortable for you, while still encouraging your cat to do what is a loving and pleasurable activity.

Featured Image: Mariia Skovpen/Getty Images.

Read Next: The Weird Science Behind Your Cat’s Paws

7 thoughts on “Why Does My Cat Knead Me?”

  1. My Smudge kneads on me before she wools on a fuzzy blanket tucked under my chin. I would love to read more about wooling. We adopted her form a rescue organization and I thought she might be wooling because she didn’t have her mother around when she was a baby. She just turned a year old and she still does this. I don’t mind just curious about it.

  2. We have 2 rescue cats we got 16 years ago.The male (Pouncer) has always been sociable. Th3 female (Bootsie) has always been withdrawn.
    Since lockdown due to COVID, she has been a “lap cat”. She meows
    at the the male cat if he even looks at me, she has become VERRY possessive. Why wife told me that if the female cat could text me a message, she being a cat wouldn’t.

  3. My cat was a colony cat, before I adopted him. He was very vicious at first, and wouldn’t allow you to pet him, he’d scratch and draw blood within seconds. When bedtime came, he’d sit by my bed and cry, until I welcomed him to jump up with me. He’s now a lap cat, but when bedtime comes, he still jumps up, and kneads the covers before going to sleep. It comforts me, and I happily go to sleep.

  4. My cat, less than a month after we brought her home (a brown female tabby), all of a sudden, jumped up on me as I was lying down, kneading my neck and purring! Then, almost every night, after I slip into bed, she jumps on my bed, and kneads my neck for several minutes, before she herself curls up and goes to sleep!

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