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Why Do Cats Knead?
November 1, 2014

Most cat owners have probably seen their cat knead—it’s characterized by an alternated pushing of the front paws into a soft object, like a pillow, blanket, or your leg. Have you ever wondered what this behavior is all about? It turns out that there are several possibilities! Learn more below from a vet Gresham, OR.

Territorial Instincts

Your cat’s paws contain scent glands, and the scents are released into an object when your cat kneads it. In this way, your feline friend is marking this territory as her own. This may include her favorite chair, a soft pillow or blanket, or even you!

Napping Preparation

Of course, cats love to nap. You’ve probably seen your cat kneading a soft surface that she’s about to bed down on. Some veterinarians and feline experts believe this is an evolutionary trait passed down from your cat’s ancestors—in the wild, cats may have kneaded soft grass to help soften it up to make a good napping spot.

Nursing Behavior

Did you know that kittens actually knead their mothers’ bellies? This is believed to stimulate milk production when the kittens are feeding. It stands to reason that your adult cat’s kneading behavior could simply be a remnant of your cat’s childhood! Plus, your cat probably associates good feelings of contentment and warmth with nursing from their mother; it’s very likely that the kneading sensation is linked to these positive associations.

Affectionate Kneading

Have you ever notice your cat start to knead while she’s being petted? Many cats seem to knead out of affection for their owners. Make sure you give your beloved kitty plenty of affection back! Since it might hurt when your cat kneads your leg, it’s best to keep the nails properly trimmed. Pick up a cat-specific nail trimmer and ask your veterinarian for a demonstration of the proper procedure.

Curious about more aspects of your cat’s strange and unique behavior? Don’t hesitate to give your vet in Gresham, OR a call.

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