Is your cat a baker? An overview of why cats knead – Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog

Cats have pretty adorable behaviors. Head-butting, keyboard naps, squinting and searching for printers top the list, but above all, the rhythmic kneading of the foreleg really takes the tuna-tasting cake. Cats knead like a holdover from childhood when their bite-sized paws stimulate the flow of their mother’s milk for a well-timed snack. That explains a lot, but why do they continue to do this well beyond kittenhood?

happy paws

The simplest answer to this cat riddle it’s: cats knead because it feels good. They connect to the feelings of goodness and contentment they felt when breastfeeding, and it shows on their happy faces. They may look thoughtful, satisfied and totally elated, but the surface they knead on makes a huge difference. Kneading the floor just doesn’t have the same efficiency as kneading a soft, comfortable rug or a human being.

My Squishy!

Primarily, cats knead on soft, fluffy blankets or pillows. They may even prefer gentle, welcoming turns. If your cat ever does this to you, consider it the ultimate compliment. Not only does your cat see you as its mother, but it reveals its most vulnerable state to you.

If for some reason you don’t like being kneaded by your cat, politely move him to another favorite surface, such as his pillow, blanket, or favorite spot in the house. Offer praise and encouragement, and perhaps a healthy treat to reinforce the alternate location as positive.

Never scold or punish your cat for trying out this completely normal feline behavior on you. Be sure to keep their claws trimmed to reduce scratching or scratching.

Is that all?

Additionally, cats knead to spread their scent through their paws. They have scent glands all over their hairy little bodies, but the ones located in their pads are very good at staking out their territory. Cats also mark their territory by scratching certain surfaces or areas (plus stretching their shoulders and back is so nice!). Always provide vertical and horizontal surfaces that attract and benefit your cat.

In nature

Cats that live outdoors must go to great lengths to ensure their safety and comfort. When it comes to finding a place to sleep, some cats push on tall grass and brush to make a bed. This action is very similar to kneading and allows you to create a soft little bed to relax or protect your little ones. Domestic cats have inherited this trait from their wild relatives and strive to prepare their space for the most comfortable nap ever.

Cats knead, and that’s what we’re here for!

Wherever you are on the spectrum of this feline behavior, you may find it delightfully charming or adorably confusing. We hope we’ve given you some insight into this quirk so you can enjoy it as much as possible.

If you have additional questions about feline health or behavior, please call us at (207) 729-4678. We are always here for your four-legged friends to Androscoggin Veterinary Hospital!


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