why do cats knead? Explain in detail

Why cats knead?

When you see your furry friend curling their paws and kneading on a soft surface, you may find it utterly cute and endearing. But have you ever wondered why cats knead? This behavior, also known as "making biscuits," is something that most cats engage in at some point in their lives. In this article, we will dive deeper into the reasons behind this adorable feline behavior.

Cat kneading and purring

why do cats knead

Cat kneading often goes hand in hand with purring. These two behaviors are closely connected and are often seen together. Cats purr when they are content, relaxed, or seeking comfort. Kneading helps them achieve that state of calmness and relaxation. It's their way of comforting themselves and expressing their happiness.

When a cat kneads, they will push their paws in and out against a soft surface, usually in a rhythmic motion. They will often alternate between their front paws, much like a baker kneading dough. Some cats even use their claws during this process, but don't worry, they usually keep them retracted to prevent any harm.

Do all cats knead?

While most cats knead, it is not a behavior exhibited by all felines. Some cats may never display this behavior at all. The inclination to knead often starts when they are kittens, as it is a behavior they learn from their mother during nursing. But even if a cat doesn't knead, it doesn't mean they are unhappy or lacking in any way. It just means they have different ways of expressing themselves.

Cat kneading behavior

Although we can't ask cats directly why they knead, there are several theories to explain this behavior. One theory suggests that kneading stems from a cat's instinct to prepare a safe and comfortable place to rest or sleep. In the wild, cats would knead tall grass or leaves to create a cozy spot. So, by kneading on blankets, pillows, or your lap, cats may be trying to create that same sense of comfort and security.

Another theory suggests that kneading is a leftover behavior from when cats were kittens and needed to stimulate milk production from their mother. By kneading their mother's mammary glands, kittens would encourage milk flow. As adults, this instinctual behavior might be triggered when they are feeling content or seeking comfort.

Kneading behavior in cats

Kneading is not just a physical behavior for cats; it also serves as a means of communication. When a cat kneads, they release pheromones from the sweat glands on their paws. These pheromones act as a scent marker, signalling to other cats that this is their territory or a safe space. Kneading can also be a way for cats to mark their humans with their scent, indicating their bond and claiming you as part of their "cat family."

Furthermore, kneading can be a sign of trust and comfort. Cats often knead when they are feeling relaxed and at ease in their environment. So, if your cat kneads on your lap or next to you, it's a clear indication that they feel safe and secure in your presence.

Cat kneading and kittenhood memories

Kneading behavior can also be connected to a cat's memories of their kittenhood. Many cats continue to knead into adulthood because it reminds them of the time they spent with their mother and littermates. Kneading can be a self-soothing behavior that brings back feelings of warmth, comfort, and security.

It's not uncommon for cats to knead while kneading on soft objects, such as blankets, pillows, or clothing that carries your scent. Your cat may associate your scent with the safety and comfort they experienced during their early development. So, if you find your kitty kneading on your favorite blanket, consider it a sign of their affection and connection to you.

Cat kneading: a form of communication

As mentioned earlier, cat kneading is a way for your feline friend to communicate with you and other cats. It's their unique form of non-verbal communication that conveys various messages. For example, when cats knead, it can be an indicator of their contentment and happiness. By kneading on you or a particular object, they are showing their comfort and satisfaction in their surroundings.

On the other hand, kneading can also be a sign of stress or anxiety. Some cats may knead excessively when they are feeling uneasy or overwhelmed. If you notice your cat kneading excessively or in a frantic manner, it might be worth observing their overall behavior and environment to ensure they are happy and well-adjusted.

Why do cats knead blankets?

Cats have a natural affinity for soft surfaces like blankets. When they knead on blankets, it provides them with the opportunity to create a cozy spot that brings them comfort and security. However, it's important to note that not all cats knead on blankets, and individual preferences may vary.

If you have a blanket-loving kneader, consider providing them with a dedicated blanket or towel that they can claim as their own. This will give them an outlet for their kneading behavior and help satisfy their need for comfort and security.

Why do cats knead on you?

When your cat kneads on you, it's a special moment that signifies their trust and affection for you. By kneading on your lap or against your body, they are marking you with their scent and claiming you as part of their territory. It's their way of showing love and indicating that they feel safe and secure in your presence.


While the exact reasons behind why cats knead may not be fully understood, this adorable behavior is undoubtedly a fascinating part of feline nature. From creating a cozy spot to marking their territory and expressing comfort, kneading serves both practical and emotional purposes for cats. So, the next time your furry friend starts to knead, take a moment to appreciate their unique way of communicating and bonding with you.