Why Do Cats Knead?

Sometimes we find it fascinating when cats knead random things – blankets, dogs, and even their humans. But why do cats knead? Why do our feline buddies do this antic?

Why Do Cats Knead

There is something adorable when a cat pushes something back and forth with his paws. Whenever cats do this, they somehow look like bakers – only cuter and minus the dough.

So why do cats knead?

Cats first got this behavior as an instinct when they were still newborn kittens. When suckling milk from their mother, kittens rhythmically push the skin around their mom’s nipples. As young kittens, they instinctively do this to help increase the flow of milk from the mom’s mammary glands.

According to zoologist Desmond Morris, this behavior is called “milk treading.”

It makes sense for kittens to do this behavior but even older cats can be seen kneading. You are probably wondering whether this behavior purpose for the behavior or is a habit they never outgrew.

There has been a theory saying that adult cats who continue to knead were taken from their mothers when they were too young. But this theory has been rejected by several cat experts adding that no matter what their age is, most cats still like to knead.

According to Dr. Karen Backer of Mercola, kneading cats are most likely just feeling contented – and that’s the reason why they close their eyes and purr while they knead. Sometimes, cats also do this rhythmic pushing behavior to calm themselves when they are feeling stressed.

But why do cats knead on their humans?

Does your cat knead on you or your other pets?  According to some animal behaviorists, cats knead humans, other pets, or objects to “mark” them as their own. Cats mark their humans with the sweat glands in their paws. By doing this, the cat is letting other felines know that the human, pets, or objects he kneaded belong to him and that they are part of his territory.

Female cats who are not spayed also display this behavior before going into heat. And by doing this, female cats are “telling” male cats that they are ready to mate.

What should you do to stop your cat from kneading?

Sometimes a cat’s kneading session can be bothering especially if your cat is becoming too obsessed with it and is becoming painful for you. To discourage this behavior, try pulling your cat gently into a lying position just as she starts kneading. Doing this might help settle your cat down and put her instead in a comfy sleeping position. Covering her paws with your hands or distracting her with toys might also work. Remember, never punish your cat.

If you love it when your cat kneads you, just make sure to keep her nails trimmed. Nail guards may help too.

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