Why Do Cats Knead? 5 Reasons Cats Make Biscuits

Why Do Cats Knead? 5 Reasons Cats Make Biscuits

Your cat's kneading may be distracting or seem on the verge of destruction sometimes, but it's purr-fectly normal. Kneading with the front paws is an instinctive behavior—observing their routine is just one more way to get inside their mind and understand their moods. Plus, who doesn't love watching their cat "make biscuits"?

In most cases, kneading is simply your kitty’s display of affection, reflective of their happiness, state of relaxation, and overall well-being. Behaviorists report that even the wild ancestors of domestic cats display this behavior from kittenhood into adulthood, so take a moment to learn more about their interesting instinct.

What Is Cat Kneading?

Cat kneading is a common behavior where cats push their paws alternately against a soft surface, often with a rhythmic motion. This action sometimes incorporates claw extensions, but never in an intentionally aggressive way. Cats kneading into soft objects is often associated with contentment, relaxation, and reflective of their sense of security. You might even catch them drooling and purring while kneading.

What Does It Mean When Cats Make Biscuits?

You wouldn't be alone if you joked about your kneading cat making dough in the kitchen. Rhythmic kneading is a typical cat behavior called "making biscuits," cats will make those biscuits anywhere: into soft blankets, into their toys, and even into your lap to show affection. Here are five reasons cats make biscuits...

Five Reasons Cats Knead

1. Channeling an Innate Nursing Instinct

Kneading is a behavior kittens exhibit when they come out of their mother's belly. They use their paws while suckling to stimulate milk production from their mother's mammary glands. The rhythmic motion of kneading helps improve the milk flow from the teat and helps the cat feel safe and relaxed.

2. To Get Comfortable

Adult cats retain this natural behavior and continue to knead to self-soothe. Even wild cats knead when they are content and relaxed!

3. Marking Their Territory

Cats have scent glands in their paw pads, and kneading is a way they mark their territory. This behavior may be more pronounced in a familiar and safe environment. Furthermore, female cats may knead more when they are in heat.

4. Expressing Happiness

Cats often knead when they are happy and feel secure. This common behavior can signify a strong bond between a cat owner and their pet.

5. Preparing a Comfortable Space

Some cats knead before settling down to rest to create a comfortable spot. They might knead soft bedding or even their owners to prepare a cozy space.

Should You Let Your Cat Knead You?

Allowing your cat to knead you is fine and can even be a sign of affection; however, be mindful of your cat's claws, as kneading may involve the extension of claws and cause scratches. You don’t want to become a scratching post! Keeping your cat's claws trimmed can help reduce discomfort during the kneading process. If your cat kneads you and you find it enjoyable, it's a positive way for them to relax and enjoy a bonding experience.

Kneading Behavior Tips for Cat Parents

While your feline friend’s kneading is natural and endearing, it can become uncomfortable or lead to unintended damage. Here are some tips to encourage appropriate kneading actions:

  • Redirect and reward. Practice positive reinforcement and train your cat to engage in alternative ways, such playing with a favorite toy or redirecting their attention with treats.
  • Trim your cat’s claws. Regular nail trimming can help prevent the claws from causing damage.
  • Encourage alternative kneading spaces. A pheromone-based spray can guide your cat to knead on pre-approved areas instead of your lap. Consider treating a soft blanket with the spray, so the cat instinctively moves their biscuit enterprise away from less desirable areas.
  • Avoid punishment. Kneading is natural and no reason for punishment. In fact, negative reinforcement can lead to other disruptions and even worse damage.

Remember, your cat's kneading is just as natural as purring. Comfort your pet, and work on ways to redirect their biscuit making if it’s disruptive or causing damage.

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Categories: Cat Behavior