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Cat Kneading: Why do Cats Knead

There’s nothing sweeter than when your cute little kitten rests on your lap and kneads your legs with her paws. It’s the equivalent of a kitten massage!

There’s nothing sweeter than when your cute little kitten rests on your lap and kneads your legs with her paws. It’s the equivalent of a kitten massage! Through this display of affection and contentment, your kitten is displaying a natural behaviour that goes all the way back to the day she was born.

Why do Cats Knead

You might have come across your little furball ‘kneading’ and wondered why they make this gesture of pushing their paws rhythmically against something soft or on your lap. Well, kneading (or making biscuit as it is fondly called because of how it is similar to kneading dough) is an adorable habit of cats that signifies content, happiness, and sheer bliss.

Not all furries knead, but it is quite a common behaviour among kitties of all age. The cat kneading technique differs from one fur baby to another. Some cats use only their front paws while some use all four. Similarly, some may purr loudly when kneading and some might do it quietly. Whichever way they make biscuits, you will mostly find your little munchkin kneading on soft objects like blankets or their favourite place – your lap.

So, why do cats knead? There are many theories regarding cat kneading but the most widely accepted ones are:

Blankets & other soft objects

Kittens knead their mothers when nursing to stimulate milk production. While kneading blankets or other soft objects will not produce milk, but cats continue doing it because they associate the gesture with the contentment of snuggling against their mother.


If your fur kid kneads while purring and sitting on your lap, consider yourself fortunate since your fur baby is essentially telling you how much they love you. How adorable is that!

Other common reasons why cats knead and pad at you?

  1. Being territorial:

    One possible explanation to the cat kneading behaviours of feline is that their paws have scent glands that secrete pheromones, which they rub to stimulate and mark territories. So, when they are pawing your lap, your little fur kiddo is probably signalling other cats to stay away from you. Cute!

  2. Creating a nest:

    Cats knead and pad on you or other soft objects for nesting too - a behaviour passed down by the wild ancestors of now domesticated cats. Wild cats knead and pad down fallen leaves to create a cushiony nest for themselves and their young ones to sleep in. It is something like we do to fluff up our pillows. They also paw the foliage to ensure there aren’t any predators or threats lurking underneath. So, why cats knead when they are no longer in the wild? Indeed, although domestic cats don’t really need to ‘nest’ or look for dangers, they might do it as a habit.

  3. They are on heat:

One common cat kneading meaning is when the females are on heat. Also known as oestrus, this behaviour is directed towards male cats to show they are ready to mate. However, if your female furry is neutered, their cat kneading behaviour is probably because of other reasons. 

What to do if your cat's kneading hurts and you want to stop it?

If you are worried as to “why is my cat kneading me?”, know that the behaviour mainly roots from love and affection. Now that you understand why do cats knead, please don’t punish them if their kneading hurts you, since, after all, they are only reciprocating your love and affection in the way they know! Instead, try the following tips to save yourself from feeling like a pin cushion:

  1. Keep your feline baby’s nails trimmed at all times.
  2. Place a soft thick blanket between your furry kid’s paws and your lap.
  3. Gently push them to lie down and give them tender loving care by stroking and caressing them.
  4. Divert their attention with a yummy treat or a fun toy.

FAQ for Cat Kneading Behaviour

Is cat kneading a sign of affection?

While it might not be the most comfortable when you have your “cat kneading me” moments, but your cat is showing you love and affection by kneading on you. Also known as cat making biscuits since they way it resembles kneading dough, cats knead only when they are content and relaxed. 

What is Cat making biscuits?

Cat making biscuits is when cats ‘knead’ on soft objects like a blanket or on their human’s lap to show contentment, love and affection. They push one paw after another rhythmically, which resembles kneading dough and hence the behaviour is known as cat making biscuits. 

Why does my cat knead blankets?

Wondering why do cats knead blankets? They knead blanket as a habit from their kittenhood when they kneaded their mother’s belly while nursing. It is a sign of contentment and relaxation. They also do it for nesting, i.e., preparing a place to sleep in just like humans fluff up their pillows. 

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