Why do cats kneed?

January 18, 2017

cat kneading

Have you ever wondered why your cat kneeds? Be it on your chest, back, a fresh blanket out of the dryer, or even sometimes your hair? This behavior lends itself to the endearing quirkiness of cats. And, if you’re lucky enough, your cat’s kneading behavior comes with the perk of your own personal massage! But why do cats kneed?

cat kneading

What is kneading?

In by kneading, kittens are able to place their paws around the mom’s nipples in order to stimulate the flow of milk. A kitten will quickly learn that kneading results in a yummy treat. Adult cats will continue to kneed even though a reward is not present, as this brings your cat a sense of contentment and maternal warmth.

cat kneading

Why do cats continue to kneed? 

Some speculate that a cat will continue to kneed if he/she was taken away from it’s mother too early and as a result, are trying to emulate a comforting, early memory from it’s infancy. Others believe that the need to continue to kneed (no pun intended!), can be traced back to cat’s early ancestors who utilized the technique of kneading to claim one’s territory, for example, by making a bed of grass or leaves. Dr. Mary Fuller, DVM explains further: “This behavior certainly serves a purpose for kittens, but why does it continue into adulthood? Animal behaviorists speculate that an adult cat kneads to show contentment, to calm herself when she’s feeling anxious or to mark a person or object with her scent from the sweat glands in her paws.”

Embracing your cat’s kneading. 

It is completely possible that your cat is kneading you because you’re being tenderized for eating… (just kidding!). All joking aside, this is a great opportunity to bond with your cat. Let him/her “make a biscuit” on your belly or back, identify your cat’s favorite blanket and leave it in a place your cat prefers the blanket to reside — perhaps on a chair or on your cat’s climbing tower. Don’t forget about that hypnotic purr that frequently pairs itself with a cat’s kneading. It may just put the both of you to sleep for a quality cat nap!

What are your thoughts on cats kneading? Join the conversation on Twitter at @FetchPetCare.

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