Why do cats knead?
Cat Fun FactsCats Behavior

Why do cats knead?

All About Cat Kneading

Many people get cats in order to play with them and not feel lonely. At the same time, many do not think about how much effort they need to take care of them. We are talking about feeding, cutting, bathing, and various hygiene procedures. 

But in return, the owners can get much more - the love and care of a pet. Sometimes this is expressed in the form when cats knead with their paws the body of a person or his clothes. But people do not always understand the reasons for such behavior and may even scold the cat for it. 

Therefore, further, we will talk about why cats knead a person with their paws and how to get rid of discomfort (if any is present).

Is my cat's kneading normal?

It is an absolutely natural process that is just a representation of a cat's instincts and feelings. But why do cats knead on you? Quite often, the answer to the question of why a cat touches a person's stomach with its paws is a manifestation of love. 

Pets do not know how to speak, so they express their feelings for their owner in non-verbal ways. If a cat kneads your stomach with its paws, gently releasing its claws, and makes melodious rumbling sounds, know that she cares about you, she considers you a full-fledged member of the family, and in difficult times, she may share food with you.

a cat wearing a chef's hat standing on top of a kitchen counter
a cat wearing a chef's hat standing on top of a kitchen counter

First of all, what is cat kneading?

Kneading is a process in which the cat pushes its paws back and forth, with the smooth claws releasing and purring. A cat can also suckle and bite a blanket or lick your hand. Not everyone understands why cats knead a person with their paws or knead blankets and beds. 

First of all, it is worth noting that the paws and whiskers of a cat are the main receptors for studying the world around them. For example, on the pads of the paws are different glands that secrete special enzymes that help mark the territory. Let's see what can be other possible reasons:

  • Stressful situations. If the cat has previously been taken to the vet or bathed, he may be worried. When a cat kneads a blanket or a person, it sheds negative energy and relaxes;

  • Understanding the environment. On the pads of the paws, there are special points that form tactile sensations. With their help, the pet learns about the world around it and its objects. Do not be surprised if, before resting, the cat first examines the situation before getting comfortable;

  • Mark territory. Also, on the front paws of the cat, there are sweat glands that secrete enzymes. With their help, pets designate not only their territory but also their objects and even people in order to ward off strangers;

  • Pain or bad mood. Sometimes cats trample on a place, a blanket, or a person with their paws when they feel unwell or feel uncomfortable. Since this action stimulates the production of endorphins - the hormone of happiness;

  • Help and heal people. If the cat itself comes to the person and touches with its front paws, creating a feeling of massage, then the pet tries to relieve you of negative energy and treats existing ailments. It has been repeatedly said that cats have a therapeutic effect on human health;

  • An expression of love and affection. Many cats trample or touch a person with their front paws, thereby expressing their love, care, and reliability;

  • One of the ancient instincts. Some experts believe that cats crumple blankets and or a certain place with their paws instinctively. After all, earlier, animals in the wild studied in detail and "felt" the surface before settling down for the night.

Also, the pet shows similar behavior after a delicious meal or before bedtime. And sometimes, the reason lies in sexual desire because, during estrus, it is common for cats to sort out their paws, purr, arch their backs, release their claws, and tear up furniture. It goes away on its own after a couple of weeks or when pregnancy occurs. If the male cat marks the apartment at the same time, castration may be the solution.

By the way, it is better not to distract the pet at this time because it can be overly aggressive and even bite.

Are you my mommy?

Another possible reason can be Milk treading. If the cat kneads the owner, releases its claws, and purrs at the same time, this is called milk treading. This action is a childish instinct, a memory of warmth and satiety, maternal love. Cats usually do this after a big meal or before bed.

If you try to figure out why a cat tramples on a person with its front paws, it turns out that the origins of this behavior lie at an early age. As a kitten, the purr fed on their mother's milk, and in order to improve the flow of milk to the gland, the baby tried in every possible way to knead the mother's stomach, to knead it with his paws. 

Despite the fact that the animal switches to adult food with age, the children's habit does not go anywhere. When a pet is happy with life - full and fed, he wants to express his gratitude to the person who cares for him. 

After all, in a sense, the owner of a kitten is the same "mother" who takes care of him and makes his life comfortable.

a cat laying on its back on a bed
a cat laying on its back on a bed

Can there be too much kneading?

If you notice that the cat is shifting from paw to paw, does not eat well, has stopped playing, and once again does not want to get up from his favorite chair, you must, first of all, exclude possible diseases. When you are convinced that the reason for the change in behavior is not a disease, you need to try to help the purr overcome the blues and get rid of stress.

Among the possible causes of poor mental well-being in cats are:

  • recent moving;

  • the appearance of a new pet;

  • rearrangement of furniture;

  • going to the vet or groomer;

  • car trip;

  • repairs accompanied by loud sounds, etc.

To make it easier for your pet to endure anxious and unpleasant events, choose sedative drops or other stress medications for him. But obligatory consult a vet before giving your cat any medicine. 

Do cats only knead people?

On the limbs of a domestic cat, there are not only points that serve as tactile receptors but also sweat glands, due to which the cat sweats, maintaining a normal temperature regime.

The secret of the sweat glands has a specific smell that a person does not recognize but other animals catch well. For example, a cat moves its paws before rushing at its prey so as not to frighten it off with a smell. In addition, the scents exuded by a cat serve as a certain signal for other animals - they speak of readiness for mating or signal that this thing belongs to him.

Can I train my cat not to knead, or How to stop your cat from kneading

Touching and kneading the owner with their paws is a natural behavior for every fluffy pet. You can't scold him for this, as well as:

  • Punish;

  • Apply physical force;

  • Limit attention.

If the cat tramples with its paws and at the same time releases claws that scratch the skin or tear apart clothes, the owners can use the following techniques:

  • It is necessary to trim the nails, but not too short;

  • You can stroke the pet;

  • You can put a thick blanket under the cat's paws;

  • It is worth slightly pressing on the front paws, which will force the pet to remove the claws;

  • You can distract your pet's attention by showing his favorite toy;

  • It is recommended to lay the cat on its side, stroking its head.

The massage and purring of a cat are the best manifestations of his attention and love. If you decide to punish your pet for this, you risk ruining your relationship with him forever and causing his aggression.


Should you let your cat knead you?

Yes, of course. It is part of the cat's love language.

Why do cats knead blankets?

It's connected to their instinct to prepare and check the place before sleeping. Also, some blankets ensemble their mother's coat.

Why do cats look at you when they knead?

A long look with smooth blinking is a "kitty kiss." It is proved that they show their attachment that way.

Why do cats knead blankets before lying down?

Cats are preparing and checking the place for unsafe objects. It's their instinct that comes from the times when they were sleeping in the wild.

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