Arm Straddling and Kneading

lightblue

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Now this is just the funniest thing and I'd love to know if anyone else has seen it.

ABOUT HER
My little Sparkle Princess (don't judge me haha) is a gorgeous (and I swear I don't just say that because I'm her father) little jet black rescue. We got her at 10-12 weeks old, and now she's 4 1/2 years. Around other people she is neurotic/shy/anxious, and she cant tolerate more than three people in the house. But if it's just my wife and/or me, she is over-the-top affectionate, vocal, and playful. Demands attention, and if you respond to her with similar sounds she will carry on a conversation with you for minutes. She also loves making this odd chirping noise at birds she sees out the window. Silly as that behavior is, I've found some reasonable explanations for it.

What I haven't been able to find anywhere is an explanation for what she does when she is really excited. I don't think it's sexual and I sorta hope not since she does it a lot and it seems silly/cute. She was spayed as a kitten.

THE BEHAVIOR
So her favorite time to play is when we are in bed. She does lots of typical silly kitten stuff. But when she really gets into the playing, if one of us has a forearm down flat at the bed, she will stand on it, straddling with her front legs and trying her best to balance with her back feet on our arm, her head over our hand and her feet near our elbow. She kneads alternatively with her feet, which is pretty uncomfortable because of her claws and the force her tiny body is putting into pressing with her back feet. She sometimes latches onto the hand too (with her teeth), and if she gets really excited she latches on pretty hard, not making us bleed usually but definitely leaving teeth marks. She'll maintain this position and kneading for several minutes if we let her. And if we start to move our hand away from under her, she'll start yelling at us for it and bite hard onto our hand to keep it in place. If you disrupt this weird activity she talks a lot like she's really mad about it, but she does not want to stop playing.

It hurts a little bit, both the feet kneading in the arm and her biting the hand, but it doesn't hurt badly and even after a few years it's still so bizarre that it's funny and it's her thing so we let her do it. As a side note, when she is excited like this playing (not when doing the weird arm-mounting thing but just otherwise when having fun), she loves to be played with rather roughly, kind of throwing her about. Again I'm hoping the explanation isn't a weird sexual thing, since to us we're just playing with our silly little baby.

Any thoughts? Anyone ever seen this behavior?
 

tulosai

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Kneading in cats is often thought of as a sign of affection since that is what they do with their moms. We have an article on some of the reasons cats might knead here: http://www.thecatsite.com/a/why-do-cats-knead

I do not think it is common/normal that this would be done together with biting.  I've never really seen or heard of this myself.

I would recommend against playing roughly with your cat, even if she seems to like it. Cats can get hurt a lot more easily than humans from rough playing, and it also probably is not a good habit for you to encourage on her part.

Hopefully others will chime in with more thoughts.
 
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lightblue

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Thanks for the response.  I've had kittens that love to knead affectionately, and would purr heavily while doing it, often closing their eyes and even fall asleep doing it.  So precious.  

She does seem to be being affectionate, but almost the way a mother would be a little rough with her children sometimes to keep them in line, you know?  I don't mean like an abusive huma mother, just like an animal mother trying to keep her cubs alive.

She might just have a few wires crossed from her days in the streets as a baby.  I'm not at all worried about this behavior, just think it's awfully strange.

Also when I say play 'rough' I only mean so relative to the fact that she's a 6 pound cat.  It's nothing like the way I play with my dogs or anything, just toss her into pillows because she likes it.  But I appreciate your concern, I will continue to be careful.
 

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It may just be a personality quirk of hers. What you describe doesn't sound sexual; it's probably just her way of showing affection.

I have a cat who can be insistent on "grooming" me, the way a mother cat might with her kittens. She will hold onto my hand and make sure I don't go anywhere until she's finished. And like your girl, she also likes being played with or petted a bit "rough" compared to most cats (meaning she likes to be petted with a firmer hand than other cats, or held tightly, picked up and danced around with etc.). So long as everyone involved is happy, I don't see anything to worry about.
 
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lightblue

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It may just be a personality quirk of hers. What you describe doesn't sound sexual; it's probably just her way of showing affection.





I have a cat who can be insistent on "grooming" me, the way a mother cat might with her kittens. She will hold onto my hand and make sure I don't go anywhere until she's finished. And like your girl, she also likes being played with or petted a bit "rough" compared to most cats (meaning she likes to be petted with a firmer hand than other cats, or held tightly, picked up and danced around with etc.). So long as everyone involved is happy, I don't see anything to worry about.
Mine does the grooming as well, like a mother to her kittens. Especially to my wife. Also likes to chew on my wife's hair in the middle of the night, which I've read from other folks as well. It all boils down to cute.
 

meplus5

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my cat actually does this to his brother. He does the same thing your cat is doing to your arm. For him, we think it's sexual aggression (he's only a year, neutered though). He will literally meow until he tracks down his brother, he will bite the back of his neck to hold him in place, and knead on his tummy while balancing with his back feet. Its really weird, but hilarious to watch.

He will also knead on me when I'm laying down. Not to the extent your cat is, but kneading is a wonderful kitty quirk, though the biting is not. I find the best way to teach a cat not to bite is to remove the object they are biting immediately and cease all play. So if your cat starts biting your arm, pull your arm away and put it under the covers. If she starts talking and appears annoyed, too bad for her. The kneading is normal, and your arm is probably squishy to her. They knead soft, fuzzy and squishy things.
 
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lightblue

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I used to have a young boy who was in love with his brother and would basically mount him from behind and grab hold of his neck with his teeth, but that was definitely sexual as he would also hump while doing that.  His brother did NOT appreciate it.

If she bites too hard I just tell her to stop, or if I feel like it I'll flip my hand over and put her whole head in my hand, which she gets playfully furious about.  It's all very funny, mostly because of her tone when she scolds me for interfering.
 

mamadukes

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my 5 week old kittrn wony go and use heer litter box. what. dhould I ci
 

rachelleb

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YES! I just posted about the same thing a few days ago! I know that the kneading part is normal, and may be a result of premature weaning, but the straddling can be...awkward. 

My cat (Pip) sounds a lot like yours as far as temperament, too. She hides from everyone but us. We got her off the streets, too, so attribute her sometimes-skittish behaviors to that. Maybe there's something connection to the straddling there!

Pip only straddles me, and only when she thinks I'm asleep. We had her fixed soon after we took her in, so I don't think it's a sexual thing. It's clear that she really, really enjoys it though. I just let her do her thing since she loves it so much and it's the closest to a massage that I get around here! 
 

michellet29

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Hi, well it can't be completely unheard of because that is almost exactally what my kitten is trying to do to me.  We've had him for about a month, he is a rescue and already fixed.  He straddled my arm with all four legs, bit on to my wrist and started kneeding with his front paws... he would have kept going but then I started to think "ewe what are you doing?" he definitely didn't want to let go and if I rest my arm he keeps coming back.  He is being super playful right now too.  I've been really busy this week and he has been acting a little weird and following me constantly lately (more than usual)  It's very weird... I've had cats all my life and never had one do this
 

michellet29

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Hi, well it can't be completely unheard of because that is almost exactally what my kitten is trying to do to me.  We've had him for about a month, he is a rescue and already fixed.  He straddled my arm with all four legs, bit on to my wrist and started kneeding with his front paws... he would have kept going but then I started to think "ewe what are you doing?" he definitely didn't want to let go and if I rest my arm he keeps coming back.  He is being super playful right now too.  I've been really busy this week and he has been acting a little weird and following me constantly lately (more than usual)  It's very weird... I've had cats all my life and never had one do this
Also my other cat makes that weird chirping - clicking noise while watching the birds too... I just assumed that was a cat thing ... I've had other cats that did this too... my sisters cat does it also
 

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My Maine Coon cat (16 pounds and 8 years old) STILL does this, NOT with my hand/arm, but with any blanket she comes in contact with, and usually at bedtime. She picks the blanket up with her teeth and bites it while she needs the blanket with her paws.  She was born feral in someone's barn, believe it or not. I wonder if she were taken away from Mum too abruptly or soon. Kneading is def. what they do while feeding from Mum, but not sure about as adults, it may be a comfort thing. Jinny also tends to love-nip - does yours? It only happens after you've been petting her for quite some time.
 

lcf2015

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I think your Sparkle Princess must be the reincarnation of our cat, Emily! She used to do exactly the same thing to my husband. He would sing to her, and when he got to a particular phrase in the song, she'd go nuts and straddle his arm and start kneading and nipping. She wasn't just responding to his singing in general, just very specific phrases in a few specific songs. She never did it with me, only my husband. What a funny little character she was!
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Now this is just the funniest thing and I'd love to know if anyone else has seen it.

ABOUT HER
My little Sparkle Princess (don't judge me haha) is a gorgeous (and I swear I don't just say that because I'm her father) little jet black rescue. We got her at 10-12 weeks old, and now she's 4 1/2 years. ...
...

THE BEHAVIOR
... , if one of us has a forearm down flat at the bed, she will stand on it, straddling with her front legs and trying her best to balance with her back feet on our arm, her head over our hand and her feet near our elbow. She kneads alternatively with her feet, which is pretty uncomfortable because of her claws and the force her tiny body is putting into pressing with her back feet. She sometimes latches onto the hand too (with her teeth), and if she gets really excited she latches on pretty hard, not making us bleed usually but definitely leaving teeth marks. She'll maintain this position and kneading for several minutes if we let her. And if we start to move our hand away from under her, she'll start yelling at us for it and bite hard onto our hand to keep it in place. ...
...

Any thoughts? Anyone ever seen this behavior?
---------

My Maine Coon cat (16 pounds and 8 years old) STILL does this, NOT with my hand/arm, but with any blanket she comes in contact with, and usually at bedtime. She picks the blanket up with her teeth and bites it while she needs the blanket with her paws.  She was born feral in someone's barn, believe it or not. I wonder if she were taken away from Mum too abruptly or soon. Kneading is def. what they do while feeding from Mum, ...
=================

I should think that a lot of rescued kittens, esp. orphaned ones that relied upon a human to bottle feed them at an early age, would do this kind of combination of kneading and nipping behavior. My (rescue) kitten Milly was bottle fed starting at four days old, and I suspect she was bottle fed by the human foster parent with the additional use of snuggly fleece blankets, too. She often climbs into one of her cuddle baskets, which always has a soft fleece blanket in it, and she kneads, purrs, and bites/ suckles on a tip of the fleece blanket at the same time. Sometimes she dramatically pulls on the fleece blanket with her teeth, closing her eyes and waggling her head back and forth, all (it seems to me) in an imitation of nursing behavior. Often she konks out afterwards, and is asleep for hours after doing this.

Some human foster parents bottle feed little kittens in such a way that the hand and forearm become a part of the whole nourishing, bottle-feeding experience for the kitten. When my Milly wants to cuddle in bed, she loves her head to be tousled by me and cupped by the palm of my hand, and she kneads on my chest and arm. I can only guess that her original foster human often bottle fed her with her arm and hand held in a certain way, and Milly finds that having her head tousled and covered by my hand is comforting.

So, I think this is all just a sign of nursing behavior (happy behavior, comfort behavior) for many rescue/shelter kittens!
 

artyjill

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Daisy is 13 months old and she doesn't like anyone but me, shoots when she hears the doorbell . A friend used to call her the ghost cat.
 

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I have a 7 month old Russian blue, his names Vader. Beautiful kitten grey with the blueish tint. Literally the best kitten I've ever met. They most loving kitten ever, he's never once ran away from me. He's obsessed follows me around everywhere while I'm home. He's my buddy lol. I can pick him up hold him like a baby, rub his stomach he loves me to death. But he does the same thing if my arm is flat when I lay down straddling my arm and kneeding me and if I resist he nibbles here and there not hurting me but letting me know to stay put lol. I was so curious, he's been doing it for months now. I bought him to surprise my girlfriend, he's always favored me but loved her also. Her and I split up 2 months ago Maybe it is an affection thing.
 

talkingpeanut

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I have a 7 month old Russian blue, his names Vader. Beautiful kitten grey with the blueish tint. Literally the best kitten I've ever met. They most loving kitten ever, he's never once ran away from me. He's obsessed follows me around everywhere while I'm home. He's my buddy lol. I can pick him up hold him like a baby, rub his stomach he loves me to death. But he does the same thing if my arm is flat when I lay down straddling my arm and kneeding me and if I resist he nibbles here and there not hurting me but letting me know to stay put lol. I was so curious, he's been doing it for months now. I bought him to surprise my girlfriend, he's always favored me but loved her also. Her and I split up 2 months ago Maybe it is an affection thing.
Is your cat neutered?
 

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I don't think this behavior is sexual. It's more like nursing. Mingo does the same thing, except he flops over on his back, holds my arm with his front paws, and puts my thumb in his mouth. Then, he rocks back and forth with a look of bliss (eyes closed) on his face. It can't be sexual, because he pushes my arm up with his hind feet so the arm isn't touching his belly or genitals. He loves to do this, and has several times a day he likes to do it, mainly when I'm sitting on the edge of the bed, getting dressed or undressed. I really believe this reminds him of nursing.
 

talkingpeanut

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I don't think this behavior is sexual. It's more like nursing. Mingo does the same thing, except he flops over on his back, holds my arm with his front paws, and puts my thumb in his mouth. Then, he rocks back and forth with a look of bliss (eyes closed) on his face. It can't be sexual, because he pushes my arm up with his hind feet so the arm isn't touching his belly or genitals. He loves to do this, and has several times a day he likes to do it, mainly when I'm sitting on the edge of the bed, getting dressed or undressed. I really believe this reminds him of nursing.
I think that really depends on whether the cat is neutered in this case.
 

lcf2015

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It's definitely a throwback to nursing behavior. Both my young cats did it when they were babies. They are almost 11 months now; Marie has mostly outgrown it, but Ellie still does it every day.

She takes it a step farther, though; not only does she demand to suckle on my forearm, but I have to have on my old red robe while she does it. If she jumps on my lap for a suckle session and I don't have the robe on, she becomes quite distressed.

I figure it's harmless and it makes her happy, so why not? Though that robe is going to be pretty hot, come July!
 
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