With all the pets we cherish, cats are very interesting creatures, with many different behavioural traits. Most of these traits are only common in felines. Such as grooming after enjoying a meal and curling up while taking a short nap.
But in this article we are focusing more on the trait in cats called kneading. Well what is it and why do cats do it?
What is Cat Kneading?
Kneading among cats is an alternating motion between their left and right forelimbs using their paws. During the act of kneading, some cats are very careful and mindful to retract their claws completely. While some, are not so careful as they fully extend their claws while kneading.
So, Why Do Cats Knead? Come On, Let’s Have A Look
In an attempt to give an answer to this question, there are lots of theories to the reason why cats knead. But, the bottom line about kneading in your feline companion is the fact that it is an instinctive trait that is common to cats.
Generally, a newborn kitten will knead their mother’s belly and mammary glands. As they snuggle and crave for close nursing from their mother. This kneading motion, is believed to stimulate the flow of milk through the mother’s nipple.
Another theory (though potentially outdated) about kneading. Is that cats who knead were separated or weaned from their mother rather too early. So they continue with this trait into adulthood. Well, no matter how true this theory may seem, yet almost all cats knead irrespective of how early or how such cats were weaned from the mother.
From another perspective, kneading in cats is traced back to the time when wild cats had to pat tall grasses and other shredded leaves. Making a fluffy and soft bed where they can give birth or sleep. And as an inherited trait, kneading has continued as a cat’s inherent instinct to usher herself into a comfortable nap.
Putting it all together, the most likely answer to the question of why cats knead is that kneading is simply comforting to cats.
Why Do Cats Knead Before Lying Down?
When it comes to cats kneading before lying down, there are also some obvious conclusions to this. Some of which reasons include;
- Unneutered Females
For most cats, when they are approaching their heat period, they have to knead their comfort zone where they lie. By doing this, her scent glands under her claws give off some mating smell around her. So that mating male cats passing around her may be able to understand her reproductive cycle.
Although humans can’t recognize a cat’s odour, their male counterpart and other feline definite do. This also acts as a nesting instinct that is common to a female cat.
- Colonizing A Territory
Similar to unneutered females, the scent released by a cat as she kneads, essentially marks such area as her territory. This is a common practice in a home with multiple cats, as each cat will knead specific areas on a blanket to set such areas apart as hers.
Why Do Cats Knead and Bite Blankets?
Another intrinsic behavioural traits observed among our feline friend is kneading their blanket.
The act of kneading a blanket is traced back to feline ancestors that would knead tall grasses into a bed in the wild. As mentioned earlier. By doing this, they assume that they are protected from predators. By the shade of the grasses which they knead around themselves into a nest-like abode.
By kneading her blanket, a cat shapes the blanket into what will be a cuddly bed where she can feel secure while sleeping. Some would say, that most cats do this in an attempt to bring back the good old memories when they would cuddle around their mother. Especially when they were a kitten.
Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?
Your feline companion kneading some parts of your body sounds really strange. Especially when you consider the contrasting effect of her kneading and her innocent intention of doing that.
When your cat starts kneading some parts of your body, say your lap, it is generally believed to be a form of feline flattery. Yes, that’s her own style and way of letting you know that she loves you and that you are probably her favourite place to merrily take a nap.
In some instances, cats sheath their claws while they are kneading on your thigh or back. But if your fur friend doesn’t sheath his nails, you may as well trim them so that he can comfortably continue to express his love while you are not affected.
However, if you aren’t okay with the fact that your cat is kneading on you, get her something else like a blanket where she can knead without troubles. While trying to stop her from kneading your body, never punish her since you know that this is one behavioural trait that gives her true happiness. Just remember to cherish those moments!
What to Do About a Cat That Kneads?
What you can do to your feline friend that cherish kneading so much is obviously another question you would want to find answers to.
For cats that love kneading on you. You can make it a routine to ensure that her claws are kept very low so that you won’t get hurt each time she kneads.
Better still, if you don’t have the time to be trimming her claws. You can have a toy around or a treat to distract her whenever you sense that she is in the mood to knead. Or even hand feed her some pieces of our Cherish Complete Cat.
So in summary, kneading among cat is a common inherited trait that is not limited to age or breed. Kneading is believed to originate from a kitten’s habit of stimulating her mother’s mammary glands while suckling.
This behaviour of kneading, a cat attaches to a feeling of enjoyment which she will want to cherish, even after being weaned.
A cat may knead on their owner, but if you don’t like it, you may get her a treat or toy to distract your feline friend whenever she wants to knead on your body. But never punish her for kneading.