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Why Does My Cat Knead Me? 4 Possible Reasons

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Why Does My Cat Knead Me? 4 Possible Reasons

Cats have a lot of unique behaviors that puzzle owners, including kneading. While it may seem odd to you that your cat is “making biscuits,” there are several good reasons why your cat may enjoy kneading you so much.

Find out the four possible reasons your cat may knead you and tips to curb the behavior.

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The 4 Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Kneads You

1. Kitten Behavior

New kittens knead against their mother’s stomach to stimulate milk for nursing. Other mammals do this, but cats are unique in that they may hold onto the habit into adulthood. Some people believe that cats will knead more if they are weaned too early, but plenty of cats that are weaned at an appropriate age continue to knead.

cat claws when kneading
Image By: RJ22, Shutterstock

2. Showing Comfort

Cats use body language to communicate how they’re feeling. Kneading is one such behavior that conveys comfort and relaxation. You’ll notice that cats often purr, sprawl out, or fall asleep while kneading, whether it’s on you or their blanket or bedding.


3. Relieving Anxiety

Like how people may fidget to relieve anxiety, your cat may use kneading to self-soothe and release tension from their body. This may also happen if your cat is highly aroused or anxious and beginning to relax.

cat kneading
Image By: Marc-Andre Runcie-Unger, Flickr

4. Making a Bed

Cats spend a lot of time sleeping. If your cat has a favorite place to nap, they may knead to mark the spot. In the wild, cats create cushioned resting spots out of grasses, so this could be a leftover behavior from their wild ancestors. It could also identify that their nap spot is their own by leaving their scent behind.

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How to Stop Kneading

Kneading is a sweet behavior, but it can be uncomfortable if your cat is not gentle with their claws. If you want to curb your cat’s kneading, here are some tips:

  • Trim your cat’s claws regularly to avoid sharp edges.
  • Try a pheromone-based spray to persuade your cat to knead on a bed or blanket instead of you.
  • Train your cat to use a “kneading-only” blanket. Place a thick blanket on your lap, and when your cat begins to knead, redirect them to the blanket. Eventually, they’ll realize that kneading is only okay if the blanket is there.
  • Don’t punish your cat by hitting, scolding, or spraying. This could confuse your cat and may cause aggressive behaviors like scratching or biting.
  • If you don’t want your cat to knead you at all, redirect the behavior by playing with a toy or teaching a trick each time your cat starts kneading. If you’re consistent, your cat will realize that kneading is not acceptable quickly.

Conclusion

Kneading is one of cats’ more interesting and adorable behaviors, but it can have some downsides, like sharp claws and ruined clothing or blankets. Some cats are hardwired to knead but a little training and redirection can teach your cat when it’s acceptable to knead, keeping both of you happy and comfortable.


Featured Image Credit: phM2019, Shutterstock

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