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Why Do Cats Knead?

Updated on March 8, 2012

What is a kneading cat looking for? What is it feeling?

If, you have a cat, there is no doubt that you know exactly what I am talking about. Cats will get into a position and alternate their left and right front paws and start massaging. There are a number of reasons why cats do this.

First when a cat kneads he/she does not care whether or not it is bringing the claws out on your good pillows or if it is stationary in your lap. After, watching my cat do this a few times I started to get curious as to why. It seems when she is on the floor the cat will knead the end of the carpet and then walk to another location to lay down. When she is lying in my lap, I notice it more to the effect of getting comfortable. Maybe my tummy is just too boney for her “smile”. But after looking into this I found several reasonable reasons thought I would share with you.

One of the possible explanations was to why cats need to knead is that it provides a security that they emotionally need. If, you have ever watched kittens, you will notice that they knead to their mother which seems to allow the milk from her to come out more smoothly. When they do this, it seems if it is a kind of treat or reward for them. So they naturally take it elsewhere to see if they do it on other things that the reward will come.

One of the other theories presented is that cats knead because they are less secure with themselves because they were separated at birth from their mother. I really don’t think this is the correct assumption because other cats that have not been separated continue to show a similar behavior.

For Cats and kittens alike, it seems to have content meant to them that this is a fun and rewarding experience. Never have I seen a mad cat want to do this.

Another one of the theories is that the Cat may be saying that this is mine. A way of marking what really belongs to him/her. Cats contain a sweat gland that they normally use to mark their territory. For example, when a cat rubs against your leg you understand that he/she is the boss, and you are just a pawn in their plan to rule the world.

When kittens and cats mark their territory you find that they also display marking territory on your good curtains or couch because of the clawing action.

Now, you know why cats knead. So, next time you see your cat start to work those pads on your lap, appreciate how important you are to her. She has chosen you and is telling the entire animal kingdom that she considers you her property.


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  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Now we know their secret.

  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 7 years ago from Arizona

    I have noticed that all the cats I have had would set to purring and kneading my dough belly and have associated it with their old milking momma syndrome, I'm sure there may be much more to it, thanks for a thought provoking article, 50