Why Do Cat’s Knead?

Kneading is when you see your cat pushing rhythmically out and then against an soft and pliant surface using her front paws in a kneading or paddling motion.

So what does this behavior mean exactly? It is believed that when cats knead, they are content, and is backed up by the fact that they are often purring while performing this behavior. They may direct this behavior to blankets, pillows, couch cushions, even their owner’s chest or lap. Usually it will precede the cat settling down for a nap in a nice comfy spot.

It is theorized by behaviorists that kneading is a remnant from kittenhood since it mimics the behavior used to help the kitten stimulate their mother’s teat for feeding. This behavior is also known as paddling or treading, and can be exhibited by any cat at any age, however it is more usually seen in the Siamese and Oriental breeds as they tend to be very demonstrative cats. It is not a behavior one should worry about, although it can be quite uncomfortable if it is directed at you as the cat’s claws are usually unsheathed at the time. There is nothing aggressive in this behavior despite this. It is just the sign of a relaxed and content cat. To help prevent kneading behavior that is directed at you from being painful, trimming your cat’s claws on a regular basis can help. If the kneading directed at you becomes too painful or excessive, you can always put a stop to it.

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  1. Well, my cat is nearly six months old and he still kneads my stomach or chest and “sucks” on my t-shirt. There are no claws included, thankfully.

  2. Kneading is a good sign of a happy and content feline! Great post. I’d never heard the theory about the behavior carrying over from kittenhood.

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