Why Do Cats Knead on Their Owners?

Cats are notorious for being ornery, aloof, and sometimes just plain weird. They exhibit a variety of behaviors that dont always make sense to us cat owners, but we love them anyway.

To stimulate the flow of milk during nursing To stretch muscles after a nap To relax after a stressful situation To indicate a readiness to mate To mark that cats territory To prepare a space before sleeping or giving birth Some animal experts suggest the behavior of kneading began with wild female cats that kneading was involved in preparing nests among tall grass and leaves before giving birth or for the purpose of resting after a day of hunting.

Not all cats are the cuddly type, but those who are can often be found curled up in their owners lap. If you have a lap cat, youve likely experienced kneading up close and personal. If your cat likes to extend their claws when kneading, though, this adorable behavior could end up becoming uncomfortable or even painful for you.

Your lap is just as warm as their mothers belly was, so your adult cat could be kneading on you to relive the comfort and security of the time they spent nursing. Kneading helps stimulate milk production from the mothers teat. Many of the behaviors cat owners take issue with are actually rooted in evolutionary instinct.

If you dont want your cat to knead on you or on the furniture, try to gently pick them up and place them on another surface, such as their own bed or a soft blanket. Keep your cats nails trimmed to prevent it from hooking on clothing or hurting you. Try using pheromones spray or Feliway products to encourage your cat to knead on other more appropriate surfaces.

Some animal experts suggest a cat kneading their owner is a sign of affection. Instead, you can take steps to prevent kneading from hurting you or damaging your furniture, or you can redirect your cats attention with toys or treats t discourage it. If your cat kneads your belly rather than other parts of your body, chances are they like its warmth and softness.

It’s a form of comforting behavior that usually means that your cat feels cozy and safe.

Why is my cat kneading on top of me?

While this may not be the most comfortable one of the bunch, your cat kneading you is a sign of love and affection. … Besides being another way to mark you using the scent glands on their paw pads, your cat kneading you is a sign they feel comfortable around you. Kneading is an instinctive cat behavior.

Why does my cat knead me but not my husband?

Cats are very particular with scents and one reason she kneads you is that she’s drawn to your scent and it makes her calm and relaxed. It could be your natural scent or maybe you’re wearing a particular cologne or perfume that your pet cat particularly likes that’s why she kneads you and not your husband.

What should I do when my cat kneads me?

If the cat kneading is painful, try redirecting your cat’s knead-iness to a pillow or a blanket, and keep her claws trimmed. Never punish your kitty for kneading, though, because the behavior is instinctive.

Cats often get stereotyped as cold and distant, especially compared to dogs. While it is true that dogs are more obvious (and slobbery) in their affection towards their humans, cats love their humans, too they just have different ways of showing it. A lot of the ways that cats show love involve marking their humans with their scent, essentially telling the rest of the world, This human is mine! There are also some ways cats show affection that may be somewhat unpleasant, but your cat really does mean well.

Their sandpaper tongues, front paws, and sharp teeth are the perfect tools to keep themselves clean and healthy, since grooming behavior is not just about cleanliness but also maintaining body temperature, improving circulation, and hiding their scent from predators. Grooming your cat is a great bonding experience, and it comes with the added bonus of getting rid of a bunch of hair that would otherwise end up all over your furniture and clothes.

This sounds nice in theory and it can be when its something indoor-friendly like a toy but if youve got an indoor-outdoor cat, you might be greeted with the grisly sight of a dead or dying animal. It may seem counterintuitive for your cat to destroy your things as a way of saying I love you, but they are just leaving visual and scent markers in places of importance in their territory. An unfortunate effect of your cats affection is that some of the places they consider important are directly related to you, which puts your spot on the couch or your favorite armchair in danger.

From pillows to blankets, furniture, carpets, and their servant humans, youve probably experienced your adorable little feline massaging or kneading you or items in your household some time or another.

Whether its your kitty making biscuits to show affection or to claim you as their own, kneading is a natural and common feline behavior. When your feline is feeling frustrated, anxious, or depressed, they may reach out for a comforting surface to help calm themselves.

If the kneading persists, you should consult your vet as your cat could be dealing with a case of chronic anxiety. Feral cats paw at piles of leaves or tall grass to create a nest for a nap or a safe place to give birth. By doing this, they dont only create a more comfortable sleeping spot, but theyre also checking for any dangerous things in the foliage.

Your little ball of love sleeps a lot, and when they feel the surface is unsuitable for napping on, they will prepare to make it as comfortable before a snooze. Tasty treats , petting, playing sessions, chew toys most cats demand it all. While youre trying to watch TV or read and your kitty starts to knead your stomach, it may be a sign your furball wants to connect with you.

If you havent paid attention to your kitty for a while and she starts to knead you at random, its likely shes trying to spend time bonding with you. In adulthood, felines knead when theyre feeling content as it associates the motion with nursing and their mothers comforts. While they knead your arm, leg, chest, etc., your fluffy pal may be recalling happy memories of her kittenhood.

They may use kneading to exercise the muscles in their paws, forelegs, and back and relieve any soreness they might feel there. Alexei stretching his long hind legs Her behavior acts as a way to communicate and facilitate reproduction. Now that is a tailA female cat will rest on her side and knead, purr, and stretch, signaling she is interested in mating.

From purring to kneading, our furry pals make our lives much more delightful, filled with entertainment and love. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission.

When kittens are first born they are totally dependent on their mother for their nutrition. When they suck at their mothers teats they tread with alternate front paws at her body to stimulate the flow of milk.

What Is Cat Kneading?

Kneading is a repetitive, rhythmic motion during which cats will push their paws into and out of a soft surface, alternating between paws. Cats love to knead on soft surfaces like blankets, pillows, plush carpeting, a person’s lap, or a couch.Most cats like to knead, which resembles the act of a person kneading dough. Thus, cat kneading is often called ‘making biscuits.’Some cats will extend and retract their claws as they knead while others will keep their claws fully retracted while they knead. Also, some cats will use only the front paws to knead, while others use all four paws.Kneading is adorable and fascinating to watch. Plus, cats can get become relaxed they that their jaws become slack and they start to drool. Imagine that!

Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?

Kneading is an instinctive behavior in cats that begins soon after birth. Though the exact reason for kneading is unknown, animal experts have a few theories.
Some animal experts suggest the behavior of kneading began with wild female cats – that kneading was involved in preparing nests among tall grass and leaves before giving birth or for the purpose of resting after a day of hunting.Today, you can observe cats kneading right before they settle down to sleep.Another potential reason for kneading has to do with territorial behavior. Cats have scent glands in their paws, so kneading imparts some of the cat’s personal scent onto the area they’re kneading, effectively marking it as their “territory.”

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Many of the behaviors cat owners take issue with are actually rooted in evolutionary instinct. We may not understand why cats exhibit certain behaviors, but we know they’re natural because we can see them in the wild cats from which domestic cats evolved.Some suggest that a cat kneading its owner is a sign of affection and flattery. The cat is basically saying it really loves you and enjoys your company. Even so, kneading can become bothersome or even a hassle if your cat wants to knead on you all the time.There’s also the possibility that kneading can become painful if your cat doesn’t retract his claws.So, how do you stop your cat from kneading?

Is my cat’s kneading normal?

Yes, kneading is a natural behavior for cats. Though we may not know exactly why they do it, it’s a behavior we see in wild cats which suggests domestic cats inherited the instinct from their wild ancestors.

Is cat kneading a sign of affection?

Some animal experts suggest a cat kneading their owner is a sign of affection. If your cat appears to be calm and content while kneading you, it may be true!

Why do cats knead your belly?

As with many behavioral questions, it’s difficult to give a definite answer to this question. If your cat kneads your belly rather than other parts of your body, chances are they like its warmth and softness. Don’t be offended—your cat feels comfy and safe when they’re…well…kneading your dough!

Why do cats knead and purr?

Both kneading and purring are behaviors associated with feelings of comfort, safety, and wellbeing. It’s natural that they often happen at the same time.

What is considered obsessive kneading in cats?

Whether or not kneading is obsessive is a nuanced question. Obsessive kneading may manifest as a response to stress, so you might notice an uptick in your cat’s kneading that coincides with other behavioral changes or a change in the environment.

Why do cats knead before sleeping?

Cats usually knead when they’re feeling relaxed, and relaxation often comes before sleep.

1. Purring

One of the most obvious signs that your cat is loving on you is when they purr contentedly, especially when you’re petting them. Purring is one of many sounds that cats use to communicate with us, and when it is combined with a relaxed body posture, your cat is telling you that they feel happy and safe with you. Purring is one of the first ways that kittens learn to communicate with their mothers. Kittens can express to their mothers that they are calm through purring, and a mother will use purring to soothe her kittens. Because it is such a low-frequency and low-volume sound, cats use purring as a method of communication with those closest to them.Not all purring is “I love you” purring, though. Sometimes your cat will purr when they want food (often accompanied by insistent “feed me” meowing). Cats will even purr when they are not feeling well as a way of soothing themselves. There is even scientific evidence that the vibration of cat purring has healing properties, including bone regeneration. Mostly, though, your cat purring at you means you are one of their favorite people.

2. Slow Blinking (AKA “Cat Kisses”)

If you’ve ever wondered why your cat gets up in your face and blinks at you, it’s not some form of kitty Morse code. It is, however, a form of non-verbal communication that cats use to express their love. When a cat closes their eyes, it is a sign of complete trust. These slow blinks (or “cat kisses”) demonstrate that they don’t feel frightened or threatened (as opposed to an unblinking stare which can be a sign of aggression or fear). When your cat gives you some love with their eyes, give it right back. By blinking slowly back at them, you are telling them that you are not a threat. It tells your cat that you love them, too, and is a great way to solidify your bond.

3. Exposing Their Belly

If your cat rolls over and exposes their belly to you, it is a huge sign of trust. The tummy area is where many of a cat’s vital organs are located, and their natural instinct is to keep this area from being exposed to predators. When your cat shows you their belly, they are literally trusting you with their life, and there is no greater show of love and trust than that. Now, this exposed belly may be a statement of love, but it is not an invitation. As tempting as it might be to reach out and give some belly rubs to your kitty, most cats do not like to be touched in that area. Your dog may love tummy time, but your cat is liable to give you a swipe or a nip if you try it. As hard as it is to resist, it’s better for the both of you if you admire your cat’s belly from afar.

4. Grooming

Cats like to keep themselves nice and clean, and they spend a lot of time grooming themselves. Their sandpaper tongues, front paws, and sharp teeth are the perfect tools to keep themselves clean and healthy, since grooming behavior is not just about cleanliness but also maintaining body temperature, improving circulation, and hiding their scent from predators. While it is normal for cats to spend a lot of their waking hours grooming themselves, cat owners should watch out for excessive grooming (including fur loss) because that can be a sign your kitty has a skin problem, an injury, or is suffering from anxiety.In addition to its health benefits, grooming is a social activity. Cats will groom each other as a sign of friendship, so if your cat starts to groom you, you know the love is fur-real. While kisses from that scratchy little tongue might not always feel the greatest – especially for people with sensitive skin – just know that your cat is telling you that you are family to them. Grooming is a calming activity for cats, and they want to share that feeling with you. Grooming you is also a way for a cat to mark you as their human. They have scent glands around their mouth, and these glands produce pheromones. This is your cat’s signature scent, and they will use it to mark their territory, including you!Just like your cat is showing you love by grooming you, you can grab a brush and show love right back to them. Grooming your cat is a great bonding experience, and it comes with the added bonus of getting rid of a bunch of hair that would otherwise end up all over your furniture and clothes.

5. Rubbing Up On You

Just like grooming you can be a way for a cat to mark you as theirs, so is the way they rub against you. In addition to the scent glands located around the mouth, cats also have scent glands in the chin, forehead, cheeks, lower back, tail, and paw pads. Your cat may be rubbing their cheeks against you, head butting you, doing figure-eights around your legs, or wrapping their tail around you. All of these are ways for your cat to show affection by marking you with a scent that distinguishes you as someone close to them. Your cat will rub up on you in the same way that they will rub up on their favorite spots around the house or on a cat sibling. By marking you as their territory, what your cat is really saying is that you are safe, comforting, and familiar. Sounds like love to me!

6. Kneading

While this may not be the most comfortable one of the bunch, your cat kneading you is a sign of love and affection. Kneading (also known as “making biscuits” for the way it resembles a human making dough) is when a cat pushes their front paws up and down on a surface, alternating between left and right. Some cats retract their claws while kneading – others don’t. Cats will knead on many types of soft surfaces, including their humans (especially when you are petting them). Besides being another way to mark you using the scent glands on their paw pads, your cat kneading you is a sign they feel comfortable around you. Kneading is an instinctive cat behavior. Newborn kittens will knead at their mother to help stimulate milk production while they are nursing, and so the act of kneading is associated with comfort.What is comforting to your cat is not always comfortable for you though, considering the happier your cat is, the harder they will knead you. Even though they are loving on you, those sharp claws can be unpleasant to say the least. If your cat is a serious kneader, you may want to keep a blanket on hand to put some cushioning in between your kitty’s claws and your skin.

7. Bringing You “Gifts”

Another not so pleasant way that your cat might show you love is to bring you presents. This sounds nice in theory – and it can be when it’s something indoor-friendly like a toy – but if you’ve got an indoor-outdoor cat, you might be greeted with the grisly sight of a dead or dying animal. Cats are natural hunters and carnivores, and it is instinctual (especially for female cats) to hunt prey and bring it back to their kittens. Bringing back these types of “gifts” is most common in spayed female cats, which makes sense because they don’t have any kittens to bring food home to. So who do they turn to? You, their closest family member. While us humans may not find a dead rodent to be a great gift, to your cat, there is no greater token of love and affection.

Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?

There are many possible reasons why cats knead their owners. Whether it’s your kitty making biscuits to show affection or to claim you as their own, kneading is a natural and common feline behavior.Let’s take a look into the possible reasons why our kitties knead us below.

1. Seeking Comfort

Some cats knead to express emotions. When your feline is feeling frustrated, anxious, or depressed, they may reach out for a comforting surface to help calm themselves.If you find your cat kneading out of distress, you should try gently petting her. If the kneading persists, you should consult your vet as your cat could be dealing with a case of chronic anxiety.

2. Getting Ready for a Nap

Another reason why cats knead is to adjust the surface before they take a nap. Just like how you would fluff your pillows and blankets before you sleep, or how dogs circle their beds to readjust their blankets —so does your fluffy pal with their beds.It’s a behavior that’s been handed down from their wild cat ancestors. Feral cats paw at piles of leaves or tall grass to create a ‘nest’ for a nap or a safe place to give birth.By doing this, they don’t only create a more comfortable sleeping spot, but they’re also checking for any dangerous things in the foliage.Your little ball of love sleeps a lot, and when they feel the surface is unsuitable for napping on, they will prepare to make it as comfortable before a snooze. They also knead with their paws to help them wind down and prepare for the nap.

3. The Massage of Love

The experience of having our beloved cats knead on our bare skin is less than pleasant, especially when their claws come out. Having our cats use us as a scratching post or a pin cushion can be quite an uncomfortable experience.Nevertheless, when our purrfect kitty kneads us, we should take this as flattery. It means she trusts you, is feeling safe, and is expressing love. If you notice that your cat tends to knead one member of your household more than another, or only one member of your household, I am afraid that this is most likely means that this is who your cat feels the most affection about.However, if your kitty becomes a little too excited with her claws, you can try putting something, like a blanket or a towel, between them and you.You can also try to encourage your furbaby to lie down and relax by gently pushing them down onto your lap. Alternatively, you can try distracting them with a fun cat toy.Whatever you do, never punish or scold your cat for kneading you. They don’t intentionally try to hurt you; this is their way of saying, ‘I love you.’⇒ Thinking about getting your favourite feline a new collar? Check out my posts on

4. Demanding Attention & Expressing Affection

Felines are portrayed as being unemotional and selfish. However, this is not the case; they often form close bonds with their owners and desire attention. Some domestic cat breeds, like the Siberian Cat, love affection and being social.Tasty treats, petting, playing sessions, chew toys — most cats demand it all. While you’re trying to watch TV or read and your kitty starts to knead your stomach, it may be a sign your furball wants to connect with you.If you haven’t paid attention to your kitty for a while and she starts to knead you at random, it’s likely she’s trying to spend time bonding with you.Your cat kneads to show their affection and that she really loves you just by purring. Kitties can express their enjoyment of your company by kneading you.⇒ Getting a new kitty? Check out my guide to

5. Marking Their Territory

Felines are very territorial by nature, and they like to mark what’s theirs. They have scent glands in several places over their bodies, including their paws. Kneading is one of the ways cats mark their territory with their scent.Your feline may be marking their bedding, your bed, or your clothing to let others know you are part of her empire.So, when they press continuously onto something, they’re marking what’s theirs. Basically, your cat owns you whether you like it or not.

6. Reminiscing About Their Kittenhood

Cats start to knead as early as newborn kitties. The pressing of their paws to both sides of their mother’s teats stimulates milk flow. It’s a basic instinct that they develop from day one, and most cats continue this behavior into adulthood. This is also why your cat may begin to drool sometimes when it is kneading you – it is anticipating a feed.In adulthood, felines knead when they’re feeling content as it associates the motion with nursing and their mothers’ comforts. Some kitties may do it out of habit or only for enjoyment as they grow older.It also shows that your cat associates the secure nature of your relationship with the one that they had with their mother when they were kittens.Kneading is soft, and even though they don’t get milk from their mothers, they feel safe and sound. While they knead your arm, leg, chest, etc., your fluffy pal may be recalling happy memories of her kittenhood.⇒ An entertained cat is a happy cat. Check out my posts on

7. Getting a Stretch Out of It

Cats love to stretch, before or after snoozes especially. Our kitties have a unique musculoskeletal system that needs to stay in condition by exercising and getting a good stretch out.They may use kneading to exercise the muscles in their paws, forelegs, and back and relieve any soreness they might feel there. Your cat may also be doing this just because it feels good. Like humans, it is ideal to have a surface of some type to stretch again. This might be you, or your sofa or other furniture in the house.

8. Going into Heat

Her behavior acts as a way to communicate and facilitate reproduction. Adult female felines knead more often when they are ‘going on heat,’ also known as estrus.Estrus is when a female cat (or female mammal) wants male attention. They usually knead to show males they are ready to mate and conceive.A female cat will rest on her side and knead, purr, and stretch, signaling she is interested in mating. They may also perform this behavior along with being very vocal, displaying more affection than usual.This behavior could also indicate a non-threatening invitation or to symbolize a relaxed state.⇒ Keen to get your cat out and about? Check out my posts on