Why Do Cats Knead?
Cats are known to be independent and aloof, so it can be difficult to understand what they’re thinking. Cats often exhibit a behavior known as kneading, which looks a little like your cat is kneading bread dough or “making biscuits.”
What exactly is kneading? Why do cats do it? Can it become excessive? Here are some answers that may help you better understand your feline friend.
What Does Kneading Mean?
Theories abound as to what this behavior means and why cats do it. Perhaps it’s a way for them to make themselves comfortable by stretching their muscles before settling down for a nap. Some experts believe cats knead because it reminds them of being close to their mothers.
Kneading is a behavior that cats exhibit for various reasons, but it usually means that the cat feels content and relaxed. When adult cats knead, it induces the release of hormones that make them feel safe and comfortable in their environment.
Why Do Cats Knead and Lick You?
Kneading behavior is standard among kittens and can be seen as early as three weeks old. Kittens knead their mother’s teats to stimulate milk flow. As they grow up, kittens continue to knead soft items such as blankets or pillows to mark them as theirs—as safe places to sleep.
It’s thought that cats knead and lick humans for a similar reason: They’re marking you as their own.
Why Do Cats Knead and Bite Blankets?
If you notice your cat kneading on your carpet or bedding, it means they’re getting their scent into the material to mark it as theirs. This instinctual behavior allows them to mark their territory as safe, secure, and comforting.
Why Do Cats Knead on Your Chest?
Kneading can be an affectionate gesture in cats, and it’s often seen when they’re being petted or snuggled. Kneading is also a way to show contentment and calmness. Your cat may knead you if he’s feeling particularly relaxed or napping contentedly on your chest.
Why is My Male Cat Kneading and Biting Me?
Kneading can be a coping mechanism when cats are bored or stressed. A cat may feel insecure if you’ve moved or changed something in your home. If your male cat is kneading and biting you, it could be because he’s unhappy or stressed.
Should Kneading Be Discouraged?
The kneading behavior that cats exhibit is associated with contentment and pleasure. It’s not necessarily something that should be discouraged, but it should be monitored.
Kittens typically begin their kneading behavior when nursing during the first few weeks of their lives. Kneading helps them to stimulate milk flow and also helps them bond with their mother and littermates.
Once they’ve left the nest, they’ll often continue this behavior as a way of showing affection to family members or even strangers. However, some cats will continue to knead, no matter the situation. This could be due to stress or anxiety over something in their environment, such as unfamiliar surroundings, upsetting noises, or something that might be causing them discomfort.
If your cat is exhibiting excessive kneading behavior or if you notice any other changes in his personality—such as aggression towards other pets or people—see your vet for medical care and diagnosis.
Knowing why your cat kneads can help you better understand him. If you have questions about your pet’s behavior or health, Curem Veterinary Care can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.