If you’ve ever seen a truly happy cat, then you’ve probably seen him knead at blankets or the carpet. Kneading is a common cat behavior, and it actually originates at birth – when cats are kittens they knead at their mother’s stomach as they nurse. But why do adult cats continue to knead? There are a number of potential reasons.
The Unknown Reason for Kneading
Like so many other cat behaviors, we still don’t know the exact reason why cats knead. This behavior is ingrained in all cats, and it’s possible that kneading serves a number of purposes. Below are a few potential reasons behind your cat’s enjoyment of kneading.
Cats may knead to show that they are content. Cats clearly enjoy kneading, and it may be that the rhythmic repetition of the behavior actually soothes the cat. Kneading typically shows that the cat is happy and content, and your cat may knead you when he’s enjoying your company.
Cats often knead a bit when they get up from a nap. Cats tend to stretch and knead at the same time, which may indicate that kneading complements their stretching. By kneading, your cat stretches muscles all the way down into his toes, and this behavior may help to keep your cat feeling good.
Creating a Soft Bed
If you’ve ever noticed your cat furiously kneading at a blanket or pillow before curling up and going to sleep, then you’ve witnessed another potential purpose of kneading – to create a soft bed. The motion of kneading would naturally fluff up or loosen dirt or grasses to create an area which is more comfortable for your cat to sleep in. Cats may knead to make soft nests so that they can sleep better.
Kneading may be your cat’s way of marking his territory. Cats have scent glands on the pads of their paws, and the act of kneading activates these scent pads. By kneading you, blankets, the carpet, and other items, your cat may be marking them as his, warning other cats to keep away.
Making Kneading More Tolerable
Your cat kneads you because he’s happy to be with you, but that doesn’t make the experience any less painful. If your cat’s kneading is causing you discomfort, then consider placing a thick blanket or towel on your lap before letting your cat curl up. Alternatively, you can give your cat a soft and special cat bed so that he can sit next to you while kneading his own bed. It may also help to keep your cat’s claws trimmed so that the kneading is not quite so painful. If you can’t trim your cat’s claws on your own, then your vet can help you.
When does your cat seem to knead the most?
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