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Why Do Cats Knead – Most Common Reasons

Cats are attractive and mysterious creatures, and among all the activities that they do, kneading is the most curious one. Kneading refers to the movements that the cats make with the rhythmic alternation of the paws, driving out or in against some soft, pliable object like a lap. However, all cats do not do this kneading in same mode. Many cats do not thrust out the paws at all, while some others make use of all the paws. Though not all kinds of cats do so, it is one of the common activities for both adult and young felines, thus it is possible that your cats also do it. What is the reason of this kneading?

There are some diverse ideas related to this beloved action of the cats. Some cats are found to do kneading while they are petted; however, they do it with no apparent reason. Now, have a look at some common theories that are believed to be right.

Why Do Cats Knead

Kneading for causing the nourishment

One possible reason behind kneading is that this activity is holdover from early years – while the kitties kneaded or rubbed against the moms during suckling. A traditional theory relevant to it declares that the cats, which knead, are weaned or separated from the mom very early. Thus, it keeps on doing the kittenish actions in later life. However, almost all the grown-up cats are found to knead, no matter when or how they have weaned.

To spot their area

Cats are defensive animals, and one way in which they defend their territory is by scent-marking their things. Cats’ body has smell glands, and these are present mainly on paws. If the cat kneads, the smell certainly comes on its paws’ surface. Animal experts consider that a mature cat does kneading to reveal satisfaction, for calming down the mind, while she is feeling nervous or to spot an object or a person with the smell from sweat glands within the paws. Thus, whether it is your pant bottoms or a bedspread, the kitty may leave a mark that it has been there.

To express satisfaction or lessen tension

Whatever be the specific cause for kneading of cat, a fact, which can be said confidently, is that kneady cat indicates joyful mood. Though the particular reason is not yet known, the cats find these actions much delightful.


Cats can be considered as the natural masters of yoga. They desire working out every twist that is available from napping. Thus, consider the situation; when you have aching shoulders, it can sense fine to snatch onto the surface or drag against this. Kneading may be a way that the feline animals keep themselves supple, until their subsequent nap.

Kneading to build a flexible place for sleeping

There is another theory behind the kneading. The wild ancestors of the cats kneaded grass in order to make a spongy place for their sleep. After all, cats are likely to squeeze prior to sleeping. It is similar to the theory, which explains dogs spin in circles prior to snoozing.

In addition to it, the cats also carry out their kneading on a bedspread and turn to put together the bedding for the sleep. They form the coverlet into some soft bed; thus, it feels safe at the time of sleeping, only when it hugs with its mother at an early age.

The kneading cat may need something

At times, cats may do kneading while they yearn for anything. Perhaps, you are extremely occupied with your work or your computer; your cat wants to have some treats right now.

While the cat blends solicitation purring with kneading, you may be in trouble. When you have not heard of this kind of purring, you may experience it at that time. The cats have refined their purr, which seems to be as the weep of some human baby. This is designed specifically to influence us.

Love Hurts

While your pet is crouched and kneads your lap when you are petting its body, it is giving back the affection. The cat is perhaps notifying you that it also loves you in the same way. Unfortunately, it may be rather aching to you because when it is happier, it may dig in your body with the prickly nails. You may plan to place a soft thick object between your lap and the cat, or quietly place the pet on its back. However, never give punishment to the cat for such performance as it does not understand it injures you.

Other causes of kneading

A female cat that is unspayed may also do kneading on a bedspread while it is coming near some warmth. The smell glands emit a scent for advantage of all male cats for recognizing the cycle. Since we are humans, we are not able to smell odors of cat pad; however, other available felines surely can do it. It is also the type of nesting nature for all female felines.

Often, it is also seen that cat is kneading when it is feeling ignored or is having some strain because of household alterations. When the cat is kneading enthusiastically, she may make use of the kneading performance to self-sooth, imitate the affectionate sensations it felt with the mother cat while it was small kitty. When you see that your cat exhibits some intense kneading actions, you can try to spend more time with the pet. Have some fun with the pet, brush its body, or only hug it and speak to it in a amorous pitch of voice, whenever you get time.

Activities similar to kneading


The small kitty applies paw-pats for testing whether an object is safe for them. Flexible cautious taps measure texture, temperature and many more things. These are also utilized for inviting to play while aimed at some other creatures.

Sometimes, cats can also softly paw the mouths or cheeks of human at the time of interaction.

Back Foot Treading

The rear-paw of cats treads in a rhythmic way from one foot to the other for some diverse reasons. The kitties accomplish it after mounting female cats at the time of breeding.

However, both female and male cats show rear foot tramping while playing. This is also done by the cats, while hunting as they need to prepare for launching a hit after prey.

Many cats utilize back paw scraping just after spraying the urine. Booting up the dust not only runs off scent spots from pads of paw, it can also put down visual signs. The scent as well as visual cues notify intruders that the region is possessed already by alpha cat.

Prevent the kneading behavior of the cats

In order to gain more comfort, you may trim the nails of your cat. Or buy nail guards for covering these nails. There are some more tips that you can use for preventing the kneading-

  • Train the cat to shift the kneading somewhere else by quietly removing it from the lap
  • Divert the cat’s mind from the actions of kneading, simply by petting it or offering it a plaything
  • Allow the cat on the lap just when you have wrapped your body with a fat quilt or coverlet

When a cat begins to squeeze you, you may find out the signs that it is turning out to be thrilled. When the speed of kneading becomes fast, it starts to act aggressively, and you can get it down the lap.

Thus, in all these ways, you may keep away from the painful actions of your cat’s kneading.

With the above discussion, it is clear that kneading is the activity, which we cannot understand very clearly. However, it does not indicate that we are not captivated with it. Like some other behaviors of our feline companions, kneading is somewhat mysterious to us.