Why do cats knead? 

These such beloved and unique animals sometimes display very strange behaviour. Find out why cats knead your blankets and cushions with their paws.



If you love felines, you will already know that they sometimes display strange behaviours, to say the least. You will probably have noticed a movement that they repeat often and you will have asked yourself: why do cats knead? Indeed, sometimes our furry friends look like they are kneading bread when they stretch their paws but, in reality, this behaviour goes far beyond the mere anecdote. 

Cats normally knead soft surfaces (and, sometimes, even their owners, as we will explain later). To do this, cats stretch out their front paws and move them rhythmically. In England, this habit is called kneading because it looks like they are kneading dough or bread. When they knead, cats usually enter a trance-like state, and it is common for them to purr and display an expression of relaxation with their eyes half-closed. 

But don’t think of this as being strange, because the reason that cats knead blankets has an explanation. Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven, everything suggests that cats start kneading when they are kittens. At this time, they need their mother’s milk and, to get it, they press their paws around their mum’s nipples to encourage the flow of milk. Kneading seems to stay in their memory as a pleasant reminder associated with an enjoyable moment. 

The fact that cats purr and knead is mainly due to these primitive beginnings. Even so, some people point towards the fact that it can be due to another reason, which is that cats knead to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands on the pads of their paws which release pheromones. With the friction they cause on soft surfaces (whether it is a cushion, blanket or toy), the pheromones are released to mark their territory. 

In addition to the above, cats also knead for pure comfort. Felines are one of the most refined animals and will do everything they can to feel comfortable. Hence, cats also knead before they curl up to sleep peacefully. 

Why does your cat knead you?

Sometimes cats may also knead their owners or other humans. But, why does my cat knead me? Simply because he or she feels safe and calm. The movement of kneading only occurs in this type of situation when the cat feels particularly trusting. They probably do this on the stomach or legs and accompany the movement with relaxing purrs. This strengthens the bond between you both and is a sign of affection from our pet. However, to avoid being scratched, it is best to make sure their claws are kept short. 

The fact your cat kneads or chews the blanket can also be because it is a vague reminder of the mother’s nipple. Some cats lick the edges of a cushion or blankets precisely for that reason, and they continue doing so even when they are adults and are no longer going to obtain breast milk as a reward. However, in general, when cats knead it is a sign of happiness, so don’t worry when you see him or her behaving in that way.