We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Cats? Kneading? Has TheCatSite become a baking site? Not to worry, we’re still here to talk about nothing but cats and cat behavior! And if you’re an experienced cat owner, you probably know what we mean when we ask why cats “knead”.
So why do they do that? No one knows for sure, but we can think of five possible reasons why cats knead and we’ve put them all together for you right here!
What is “kneading” behavior in cats?
Lying there, all happy and content, your cat or kitten extends his paws, pushing against a blanket, a favorite shirt or even against you. Alternating between left and right, Kitty is pushing in those paws. Had this been dough, you could be putting a nice loaf of bread into the oven soon! Some people call this behavior “making biscuits”.
While kneading, your cat is most likely purring. Possibly quite loudly too! With eyes closed – or semi-closed – your cat seems to be getting right “in the zone”. Some cats may be “smurgling” too!
Smurgling? What’s that?
Some people use the word “smurgle” to describe the very act of kneading. Others reserve it for cats that truly go overboard, to the point of salivating over whatever — or whoever — they’re kneading.
Here’s what kneading can look like:
And here’s another kneading cat:
And this is Korin by our member @Korinmewmew:
So why do cats knead?
There are a variety of theories about why cats knead. Here are five possible reasons for this unique feline behavior.
1. Remembering kittenhood
When kittens are nursing, kneading Mama Cat helps produce more breakfast, lunch and dinner for them. Massaging the teats could be stimulating the mammary glands to actually produce more milk.
The memory of comfort and care stays with the kitten as he grows. He pokes and prods you as a form of affection.
2. Hormonal kneading
If your cat is not spayed, kneading can be a sign that a heat cycle is about to start. Females in heat are washed over with hormones that make them extra affectionate. This is nature’s way to make sure the female is receptive towards the male cat.
Please make sure to spay your cat. Being sexually receptive is very intense and stressful for a cat and unless she’s mated, she will go into heat every several weeks. Of course, mating means kittens.
With not enough good homes to go around, responsible cat owners must make sure to spay and neuter all cats.
Read more: Why You Should Spay And Neuter Your Cats
3. Getting sleepy
While dogs turn around in circles three times before lying down, cats often knead themselves a comfortable place on a lap, cushion or couch, but then cat-like, don’t necessarily lie down there to sleep. Only the cat knows why.
Kneading can be both a way to stretch and flex muscles or a self-soothing, rocking-myself-to-sleep action, depending on whether they are waking up or ready to nap. It can also be a way to keep you seated instead of disturbing them by getting a soft drink and chips during the commercial.
4. Marking territory
Cats have scent glands on their paws. Kneading lets them subtly mark you and their favorite spot on the couch so other cats know, “This is MINE.” Try to take it as a compliment.
5. Just feeling really happy
A stressed cat does not knead. Seeing your cat start the push/pull stretch lets you know he is comfortable and calm.
Whatever reason your cat has, the main thing to keep in mind is this—he only does it when he’s comfortable, calm and being affectionate. It is a compliment.
One thing is for sure: If you have a cat who loves to push/pull on your body parts, you need to keep his nails clipped! Male cats can get a little rough about this.
Article images submitted by members of TheCatsite.com.
Comments? Leave them using the comment section below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!