“Kneading” is something we all associate with bread and baking. It usually means pushing your fists down into the soft dough. However, as a cat-owner, have you ever seen your cat kneading a surface? Of course, you have.
Cats are hard to understand for even the smartest of us, and the habit of cat kneading is one of their many mysterious quirks. Are you worried when you see your cat kneading a surface? Well, don’t be! It is entirely normal for them, and we are here to tell you the various reasons why do cats knead.
Marking their territory
Cats are famous for marking their territory. Whether it is their owners or the places they like, cats want everyone else to know what is theirs. And your cat kneading a surface is one of the many ways in which it may be marking its territory. Marking their territory is the primary reason why cats knead.
Their paws have scent glands in them, and through the kneading motion, cats can leave their scent on places they mean to label as their own. Since cats have a powerful sense of smell, this acts as a sign for rivals that they should not interfere with the territory marked out by another cat. Therefore, your cat kneading you may just be a sign telling other cats to back off!
Kneading in kittens
While adult cats knead, the behavior is more prevalent in kittens. When they are hungry, they knead their mother’s abdomen to let them know that they require feeding. They also press the area around the teat to increase the flow of milk. Cat kneading is, therefore, the most common in extremely young kittens.
One of the most common theories for adult cat kneading is that this is a residual behavior from nursing. While it was previously believed that only cats separated too early from their mothers had a kneading habit, this has been disproved. Kneading is a familiar motion for cats, and they often revert to it as a force of habit.
Letting out their stress
Another common theory to explain the cat kneading behavior is that it is a stress-releaser. Since cats develop the kneading habit in their first few days, they often revert to it when they feel stressed as adults. Just think about it, even as human beings, we sometimes like going back to simple things, such as coloring or painting, just to let our stress out. Is it that surprising that cats also go back to familiar motions when the tension of the world is too much for them? Cat kneading is just a simple way for your cat to relax.
Creating a place to rest
As human beings, we often pat down our beds and pillows to make them more comfortable for us. Cats do the same too! While they don’t have pillows, they will often knead their beds or the ground to make it a softer place for them to rest. By pressing down these surfaces, they can make them more comfortable for themselves. Therefore, it turns out that a cat kneading its bed has reasons similar to why human beings fluff their pillows.
Cats often knead when they are happy. So if you are playing with them or simply rubbing their back, cats may knead to show you how happy they are at this state of affairs. Since they cannot communicate through words, look for these signs to see what pleases your cat. Cat kneading is, therefore, a sign of a happy feline friend!
A call to mate
Cat kneading is an expected behavior in female cats that are looking to mate. We all know that animals have various ways to let members of their opposite-sex realize they are ready for them. Kneading their paws in the air is just one gesture that female cats may engage in to let male cats know they are prepared for them. If you see your cat kneading a random surface in front of potential mates, at least now you know what it means!
Other actions you can look out for are purring and stretching when a male cat is nearby. However, when your cat is immediately ready for a mate, it will raise its pelvis when the male cat approaches. Kneading is just a preliminary sign to attract potential mates.
Just stretching themselves
Cats are famous for their long and luxurious stretching motions. If you see your cat kneading down on a surface, it’s very likely it is just stretching its muscles after a nice nap or is releasing some excess tension from its muscles. After all, even humans stretch when they are tired of trying to relax, so it’s not surprising when cats do so as well.
Showing affection to their owners
We all know that cats purr to get the attention of their owners. Well, once they have your attention and you are playing with them, they may “knead” you to show how happy they are. Since kneading is a gesture cats develop when they are kittens and are being nursed by their mothers, if they knead you, it shows that they hold you in the same place as their mothers.
One important thing to note here is that, at times, your cat’s kneading may hurt you. You may feel their claws digging into you. However, do not push away your cat or punish it for kneading since that may discourage the innocent animal from expressing itself. You can clip their claws and trim them to minimize their hurt, but never discourage this rare display of affection from them.
A sign of comfort
Most importantly, cats knead surfaces when they are comfortable. Whether it is their bed or their owner’s lap, cats do not knead when in discomfort. Kneading is associated with familiarity and fondness, and if your cat is kneading, this is a sign that the cat is comfortable where it is.
While cats are still very mysterious animals, we hope that the information provided above helped you unlock one of their many mysteries. Cat kneading is the sign of a content pet, so don’t worry when you see them pressing down on a surface. You do not need to ask why do cats make biscuits since we haven’t heard of a feline baker yet!