Cats are known to have quirky and strange habits, which make them quite appealing to their owners. In fact, you may have even seen your adorable little kitty pushing a blanket – or anything it gets its paws on – forward, just like the motion you make when preparing dough to bake biscuits! What's up with felines and this weird kneading habit, anyway? Well, if you read along, you will learn more about scientific explanations about this mysterious kitty habit, so you can understand your furry pal more.
If you stare at your pet for long as it kneads gently that soft blanket, the couch cushion or your lap, you may end up smiling and asking yourself what in the world this is all about. The pushing forward movement with your kitty's paws makes it look as though it's giving a massage, and you may almost want to offer your back for a soothing back massage. However, did you know that there's actually a reason why cats do this? They're not trying to make you laugh by performing a new dance or a marching kind of a motion with their forefeet and hindfeet. There's a little bit of a history behind the kneading, which begins from the time your feline was born.
Basically, kitties start kneading a day or two after they are born. With eyes closed and just cuddling with mama cat, tiny kitties knead the nipples of their mommy to get some milk to drink. It's automatic that they do this to stimulate milk flow, and they get results by doing so. But the question is, why do they continue to do this long after they are kittens? This brings us to the next paragraph on older cats who knead...
Once cats are no longer dependent on their mother for survival, they tend to retain old habits – and this includes kneading. It's a little bit like with humans, actually. We always treasure fond memories of being with our loving moms, or even continue certain habits that remind us of maternal security whether it's cooking her famous comfort dishes or wrapping ourselves with her handwoven blankie during chilly nights.
Now, back to cats and kneading, they also do this habit that reminds them of their mommy even if the purpose is no longer to squirt some milk. PetMD experts explain that one of the reasons why they knead is the sense of contentment and security they get from kneading, which they associate with maternal warmth. This is why when you come closer to your cat whose kneading to its heart's content, you will also feel it purring at the same time. And you know why cats purr, right? It's because they're happy, contented and just plain relaxed. Yep, you can say that your knead-y feline is simply basking in kitty paradise as it pushes a soft object forward with its paws.
Pet specialists at petMD also explains another possible reason why cats knead, and this is because they just want to stretch, get ready for bed and snooze the hours away. In fact, if you observe closely, when cats prepare their bed for sleeping time, they also knead, so there is a truth in this motion as being associated with napping.
kneading allows cats to stretch out their shoulders, paws and legs before they curl up into a ball of fur on your couch or bed. Your pet's ancestors have also been known to knead down bunched up leaves and tall grasses, so they can get a cozy spot to catch some ZZZs. Members of the cat family also knead down bushes to prepare a spot for giving birth, as well as to check out any prey caught under the foliage.
You may not smell it, but when it comes to cat-to-cat, these animals know for sure there's a subtle scent on their paws. Just like dogs, cats are territorial creatures, and once they claim a spot, no one is supposed to barge in – or intruders are going to get for sure! Animal planet.com also presents that kneading is a way for cats to let other felines know their territories. Since kneading is a motion that involves the pads of cat's paws and the scent glands in these, once they get into action, these felines are already staking their claim. Whether it's a tom or queen, cats scatter their scent around to make sure everyone else (well, except humans, perhaps) knows there is no intruder allowed in their territory. And another thing – female felines knead before they are in heat, so it almost gives you a warning that they will enter a period full of additional quirks during this season.
When cats knead, their claws tend to stick out, which can damage objects or hurt you a bit, supposing they are using you as their kneading spot. So, what's the best way to address this issue? To save you and your couch from a feline's sharp claws, the only way to do this is by trimming your furry pal's nails. You may also want to spread a thick towel or a soft blanket on your lap or the couch, so there's no damage done after a kneading session.
In case you find it uncomfortable when your cat kneads you, consider placing it to another spot or giving it a belly rub as a diversion. Just don't punish your pet for this habit since it's an enjoyable and soothing motion for your cat.
There you have it – some possible reasons behind a cat's kneading and what you can do if it goes a little out of hand. So, instead of getting all freaked out or punishing your kitty for this uniquely feline habit, just let your pet knead as long as it wants since it offers a sense of calm, relaxation and bliss that it needs once in a while. What's more, you can get a free massage anytime by offering your achy back or leg, as long as you keep your pet's nails trimmed, that is.