Have you ever layed in bed and your cat has come and started kneading on you? I remember when our cat Nipper first started doing it and I was very confused as to what it wanted. As it turns out it was not wanting anything from me but instead was trying to show me something. In this blog post I will share with you what I found out about why cats knead.
What is cat kneading?
When my cat first did this to me I had no idea what it was doing. It was something I had never seen it do before and to be honest I had never heard of cats kneading.
I was layed in bed trying to get to sleep when all of a sudden Nipper jumped onto the bed. She then placed her two front paws onto the sheets that were covering me. At first I just though she was going to climb over me but then she started pressing down.
In a strange kind of rhythm both front paws went up and down, alternating with the claws clenching onto the sheets when fully extended. It almost felt like it was trying to give me a massage! All the while she was purring away in a state of happiness and bliss.
The next day I was really curious as to what she was doing or trying to say to me. So I searched google and found out that the cat was kneading on me. Below are the possible reasons as to why it was doing it.
Why does my cat knead on me?
Well this is where it gets complicated. No one can truly know why cats knead on their owners as we cannot read their minds. However that doesn’t stop us making assumptions based on their behaviour. It was quite clear to me that Nipper was happy, she was purring very loudly whilst kneading.
Appreciation and affection.
Upon further reading and research I read that kneading happens when your cat wants to show you appreciation. It is a way that it can show you that it respects you and appreciates what you do. Basically it is a show of affection towards you for providing it food and warmth. Everything a cat wants….
A habit from being a kitten.
This is another theory that is circulating. The idea is that your cat has carried this habit on from being a kitten when it used to knead around its mothers teat to promote milk flow. As more evidence to this theory some cats actually suckle on the object that they are kneading. When you add both of these factors together it does seem plausible that this is the reason for your cat kneading.
Scenting it’s property.
It goes without saying that your cat believes it is the head of the family. Cats actually have many scent glands dotted around their bodies for marking territories. One of these glands is found in the cats paws! Some people believe that when they are kneading they are actually kind of claiming you as theirs. They do not want any other cats trying to claim you!
Kneading to make a comfy bed.
The last theory that I came across was this one. Cats knead usually when you are layed in a bed under some sheets and they do it as a way of patting down to make a comfy bed. Much in the same way that dog walk around in tight circles on a blanket trying to make themselves comfortable. It does kind of make sense but after witnessing it many times myself I do not believe this to be the reason. The way they do it whilst staying in the same spot and also watching your reaction just does not sit right with this theory. If they were circling and scuffing up the sheets then I could say it is a possibility.
My thoughts on why cats knead.
I am no expert in cat psychology although I have witnessed it many times with our own cats. I really want to believe that cats knead on you as a way of showing affection as in the first theory. However I do also believe that it is mixed in with theory number two about carrying it on from being a kitten.
At the end of the day I do not think we can ever fully know the reasoning as to why they do it. Whatever the reason is for our cats kneading it is clear to see that they are happy when doing it. There is nothing to worry about and it is perfectly normal. I find it best to just sit back and let them get on with it until they fall asleep! Let me know in the comments section if you have any other ideas why cats knead.
My name is Andy Baines and I am the owner and writer here at Super Crazy Pets.
For the last 20 years I have been the carer/parent of many exotic pets, from reptiles to amphibians I have cared for and looked after them all.
I created this website to share my knowledge of looking after pets with other fellow owners.
My works and articles have been shared on many online publications including The Spruce Pets.
You can read more about my story by visiting the about me page.