Ever Wondered Why Your Cat Kneads So Much? Here's Why

No, they're not trying to make cookie dough! Although it might just seem like a strange feline habit, there are a few specific things that can cause cats to do this.

If you're a cat owner, you've surely noticed this behavior from time to time, or perhaps rather frequently: your cat stomps their paws on their blanket, bed, or maybe even you! The motion looks a bit like they're kneading dough for bread like a little baker.

Sometimes this rhythmic, habitual motion is just with their front paws, other times all four. It varies depending on your cat. But, regardless of how they do it, this movement is very common amongst all types of cats.

So what causes this behavior, exactly? Many of the reasons are due to the cat's instinctive needs and feelings.

It's Comforting

You might have noticed that when your cat chooses to knead, they seem pleased and comfortable. They're normally in a safe environment and feel at ease with their surroundings. This rhythmic stomping of their feet is a kind of yoga for them, you might say. It allows them to relax and relieve stress.

It's Nostalgic

Kittens knead instinctively from the time they're first learning how to move at all. They do this while nursing to yield milk from their mother, so the motion becomes associate with the comfort and reward of food. While adult cats obviously understand that this action is no longer needed to obtain food, the good feelings associated with this behavior remain throughout adulthood.

It's Nap Time

From cats in the wild trying to create a bed from more crude measures, to your spoiled housecat who is given a thousand and one blankets, beds, and cushions... No matter what they have to work with, cats love to knead the surface to make it just right before they snuggle in for a siesta.

It Marks Their Territory

You probably knew already that your cat's senses were more heightened than your own, and that makes it possible for them to mark their territory without you even noticing! Cats have scent glands on the soft pads of their paws, so the pressure of kneading releases that scent and marks the object as theirs. We know what you're thinking, and yes: that includes you!

It's a Way of Communication

Our feline friends have various different ways of expressing back to us that they love us, from purring to cuddling to (you guessed it) kneading. The action is comforting for your cat, so it's a natural response to show contentment and attachment to you. It can also be its way of getting your attention and encouraging you to give it some love - which, if you're anything like us, works every time!


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by Andrea Heckler