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Why do cats knead?

(November 3, 2011)

Why do cats knead their paws?

Many pet owners who have never owned cats before tend to get concerned when they see their cats kneading their paws, as they believe it may be a sign of pain or discomfort. However, kneading in cats is a very common trait, one that they develop at an early age. There could be several reasons why cats have this habit. Given below are a few possible causes for cats kneading their paws:
• There are scent glands placed in the soft pads, on the bottom of a cat’s paws. When cats knead their paws, a bit of their unique scent gets released. Cats then use this scent to mark the territory they are trying to stake a claim to. In case your cat is kneading its paws on your lap, it is probably simply staking its claim over you. This also applies to other objects.

• In the earlier days, cats had to pat down shredded leaves or tall grass to make a soft and fluffy bed. It is believed that this natural instinct continues to be a part of feline behavior, even though they have been domesticated.

• It can also be seen as a comfort behavior, reminiscent of the kneading action of kittens when nursing. Full grown cats continue to go through the motions of kneading when at ease or comfortable, and also when stressed.

• There is a theory that cats who are weaned too early have the tendency to knead their paws. This mainly applies to cats that suckle on the corners of a pillow or a blanket while kneading. However, in the recent times, many pet experts claim that this theory is not accurate.

Cats kneading behavior is a normal part of their nature that is not really a cause for concern. However, in case it harms himself or causes damage to his surroundings, it may be best to consult a vet about this cat behavior.

Submitted by N on November 3, 2011 at 12:31


Why do cats knead blankets?

Cats kneading blankets is a very common occurrence, observed in several feline pets. As a pet owner, you probably wonder why your cat is doing so and if you need to be concerned on seeing your cat kneading and biting a blanket. It was once thought that cats who had the habit of kneading their paws and biting on the corner of a blanket at the same time had been weaned off too early. However, this theory no longer holds any weight, as a majority of the cats are seen kneading blankets.  

Some pet experts claim that a cat kneading blankets is the sign of a happy cat. This is all the more true if you see your cat drooling and kneading at the same time. While being nursed, kittens perform the kneading action, to stimulate the flow of milk. Some kittens also see their mothers knead the sleeping area, to make the beds fluffier. Many of them learn to knead blankets from their mothers and as they grow older, they continue to engage in such behavior, as it helps them feel more comfortable.

Cats kneading blankets is hardly a cause for concern, but as a responsible owner, you need to make sure that your pet’s claws are trimmed, so that he cannot cause any harm to himself or the surrounding. In case you notice your cat kneading and biting a blanket more often than is normal, then it is best to consult a vet.
Submitted by N on October 17, 2011 at 12:48


How to stop cat kneading?

In most cases, you have nothing to be concerned about in case you notice your cat kneading his paws or a blanket once in a while. In fact, it is believed that a kneading cat is a happy cat, which shows that the habit is far from abnormal. However, at times, your cat may get injured while kneading, especially if his nails have not been trimmed. In case you are trying to stop your cat from kneading, you will need to spend some time training your cat accordingly.

To stop cat kneading, every time you see your cat begin the kneading motion, pull the cat’s paws away gently, saying “no”. The cat will find it difficult to continue the kneading motion and will be forced to stop it. Once your cat stops, reward it with a treat. Every time after that if your cat continues the kneading motion, tap his nose and say “no” in a firm tone. Again, reward your cat with some praise or even a treat when he stops kneading. Another way to stop cat kneading behavior is spraying your pet with clean water, each time he starts kneading. This is like a signal to your cat to stop the action.

Never yell at your cat or punish him to stop him from kneading. In case you cannot stop cat kneading behavior on your own, it may be best for you to hire a professional to do so.

The best option would of course be to trim the cats claws rather than attempt to control or subdue its natural instinct. 

Submitted by N on October 7, 2011 at 05:40


Kneading is one of the most characteristic activities your cat engages in. However, it is nothing to be worried about, as most cats knead to express contentment. Kneading is characterized by the pushing out and pulling in of their front paws, often with their claws exposed. They may alternate this activity between their right and left limbs and generally tend to purr while kneading, another indicator of their contentment. There are several causes attributed to cats’ desire for kneading. Kneading may have been a necessity for the wild ancestors of cats as they may have had to use the treading motion that kneading characterizes in order to build a nest or a temporary resting place.

Your cat may thus be playing out this natural instinct while kneading inside your home. In addition, most cats customarily knead their mother’s teat in order to stimulate it to secrete milk.  Your cat thus retains this instinctive activity, performed shortly after his/her birth and carries it on whenever he/she is feeling cozy or secure. Cats thus tend to substitute kneading their mother’s teat with kneading a favorite object in their surroundings. You may have observed that your cat tends to knead when he/she is relaxed and happy. Your cat may feel relaxed or happy while being petted in his/her favorite manner or when he/she discovers a comfortable spot like a soft blanket or a furry rug. Kneading may also be an activity performed just before sleeping.

There is thus no need to worry if your cat is kneading, as this is merely a natural response to feeling secure and content. Kneading may however, sometimes be destructive. Your cat may be expressing his/contentment by kneading, however, your cat’s sharp claws may be damaging to your skin and to surfaces of objects in your home. Your cat may get cozy and relaxed in your lap and start kneading, thereby making it very painful for you. He/she may destroy objects in your home by kneading them. You can help control the destructive effects of your cat’s kneading easily without discouraging this comfortable activity. For instance, you can train your cat to knead without using his/her claws. Discouraging your cat from kneading with his claws is an effective way to teach him/her to knead softly. Gently toss him/her off your lap if you are in pain. Encourage your cat to knead softly by encouraging or praising him/her whenever he/she kneads without claws.

Submitted by A on March 26, 2010 at 01:33


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