Ask the Vet: Why Do Cats Knead?

Oct 25, 2019 by

Kitten Kneading Sofa

Does your cat ever “make biscuits”? Or “knead dough?”

These terms commonly refer to the ritual of cat kneading. This is when your cat rhythmically presses their paws back-and-forth against a soft surface like your lap, a couch cushion, or a blanket laying on the floor.

The act is admittedly adorable (and sometimes even feels like a massage if you find yourself to be the soft surface). But why do cats do it?

Though animal scientists and researchers have asked that same question many times over, it turns out there is no definitive answer. Still, there are some likely theories. Here they are:

Theories on Why Cats Knead

1. It’s a remembered behavior from kittenhood.

Kittens will often knead during nursing because the action stimulates the production of their mom’s milk. Even though nursing is over in adulthood, grown-up cats may remember this action and repeat it as a way of providing self-comfort.

2. It’s a remembered behavior from centuries ago.

It’s also possible your cat is “remembering” what their ancestors did to create a comfortable sleeping area. When ancient cats — who were wild — would knead, they would massage the dirt, grass, or other ground surface to make it softer and cozier.

3. It’s a way of claiming you.

Lastly, cats will often knead their owners or their owners’ possessions (a sweater, for example). This could be a way that your cat is marking their claim on you.

Has your cat been exhibiting odd behaviors?

Cat kneading is a common feline routine and nothing to be concerned about. Still, some cat habits may signal a bigger medical issue. If you’ve witnessed your cat doing anything that makes you wonder about their health or wellbeing, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your Edmond, OK vet.  Sunset Veterinary Clinic is proud to provide top-level veterinary services to Edmond cats and dogs. Contact us today at 405-844-2888 to schedule an appointment.

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