Why do Cats Knead

Why do Cats Knead

Why do Cats Knead

Commonly seen in domesticated cats, a cat might push forward and back with the front paws, alternating between arms. Is he giving a ‘cat message’? Is the cat trying to stretch? Is this some sort of strange ritualistic behavior?

Cat Kneading

Like kneading dough, cats will sometimes do this on soft, smooth surfaces, like pillows, bedding, or even other people and animals! No one knows exactly why cats knead, but we have a few pretty good ideas.


Why Cats Knead #1

When nursing, young cats will knead around their mother’s teat, promoting milk production! Theoretically, cat kneading could simply be a learned behavior, done when a cat is comfortable.

This is the most popular theory of the three presented here.


At the same time, one would have to wonder why cats knead non-living household objects, like pillows and couches. They certainly won’t find any milk from these! This gives evidence to the theory cats knead out of a comfort type instinct, not simply to stimulate milk production. Have you ever seen cat kneading behavior when a cat is upset?


Why Cats Knead #2

Before domestication, several theorists Immagine wild cats would sort of ‘pat-down’ brush and foliage in order to create a comfortable sleeping position or a better spot for labor and delivery. That cat kneading behavior could be an instinct passed down over thousands of years!


This also makes sense from an instinctual point of view. The same type of action would take place when flattening ground since cats don’t exactly ‘stomp’.


Why Cats Knead #3

Cats have tiny scent glands all over their bodies, including their paws! Believe it or not, a cat is often ‘marking a scent’ when he brushes up against a person, animal, or object. When cats knead, they might just be trying to claim ‘their property’!


How common is cat kneading?

Though kneading isn’t a behavior all cats share, it is very common among both adult and young felines! We don’t know the exact reason (other than the above possibilities), so it is hard to guess what percentage of cats do this without knowing why.


Do cats knead to stretch muscles?

Cats love to work out the aches and kinks after a nap, which is when most scratching behavior occurs. Theoretically, this would also make perfect sense! Kneading does require stretching.


Why does my cat knead with his claws?

This could also be a type of stretching or ‘sharpening’ the claws. Your cat isn’t trying to harm you! Human skin is, unfortunately, not as durable as that of wild cats (which is where our domestic cats originate).

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