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August 23, 2012 at 4:31 PMComments: 0 Faves: 1

Why Do Cats Knead?

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Cats are so adorable when they knead, especially when they press their paws against you. My cat, Nika, would do this a lot when she cuddled with me.

“Aw, you love me!” I’d say to her as she started purring and kneading my stomach.

Naturally, she always forgot her claws.

“Ouch, Nika! Here knead my jeans instead of my belly... there we go”

In my mind, kneading was a cat’s way of getting comfy. Sort of like when a dog circles around the spot they are going to sit to find the perfect area. But, did my theory hold water? I had to find out where this kneading behavior came from!

It Starts At Birth

Once a cat is born, they begin kneading almost instantly. It aids in how they nurse from their mother. Placing their paws around the mother’s nipple and moving them back and forth, increases the flow of milk. They learn quickly that more kneading equals more milk. As they mature they don’t have it in their mind that kneading anything and everything will reap rewards of milk, but what they will take with them is the positive memory of receiving a tasty treat and the intimate bond they shared with their mother.

Kneading Communicates Affection

Consider yourself loved when a cat begins to knead you. It’s their way of telling you how much they care. If a cat isn’t declawed, their fondness can end up hurting a little bit (Just like it did to me)! To help with this, try putting a small towel between the two of you or direct them to kneading your leg if you have jeans on. I tend to wear a lot of layers when I'm hanging out around the house, and this seems to help as well!

A Way to Get Comfortable

Have you ever noticed your cat kneading a blanket? The couch cushions? Or anything that’s soft and fuzzy? Cats knead to make their environment more cozy – they push the fabric around to warp the shape to their liking. However, sometimes cat’s knead to mark their territory. The pads of their paws contain scent glands, which will attach their smell to anything they touch.

So, my theory was half right, kneading can be cat’s way of getting cozy. I had forgotten the most important part though – it’s a way Nika shows me she loves me!

Does your cat knead you?


Photo Credit: erlin1

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