A cat kneading a blanket.

There are many wonderful things about cat ownership. These interesting little creatures never fail to bring unconditional love and some pretty entertaining habits to the table. Perhaps our favorite quirky cat behavior at Bayside Animal Hospital is when kitties make biscuits. While it is a pretty cute habit, it might be one that leaves you confused. Read on to shed some light on the mystery of this quirky cat behavior. 

Your Cat Kneads You

We have all seen our cats alternating pushing in and out with their front paws from time to time. Many people affectionately refer to this as making biscuits. While no one truly knows what it means when a cat kneads, there are a few theories. These include:

  • It is an instinctive, comforting behavior. You can witness kittens performing this cat behavior while nursing, and it makes sense that kneading may be a self-soothing behavior analogous to a baby sucking their thumb.
  • It is a cat behavior that aids in making a nice, fluffy bed before settling down for a catnap.
  • It is a territorial marking behavior utilizing the scent glands on the bottom of the paws to stake out territory.
  • It is a way to signal your cat kneads you in more ways than one! Generally this behavior is associated with a contented kitty and may be an affectionate gesture.
  • It is a way to signal a willingness to mate (especially if your cat is not spayed or neutered). This cat behavior is often exhibited by cats who are in heat. 

The truth is that we don’t know exactly what it means when a cat kneads you, however it seems likely that the behavior is related to one or a combination of these theories. Our feline friends retain their air of mystery for now.

How to Return the Sentiment

When your cat kneads you, it can sometimes be a little inconvenient or even painful (watch the claws!). If you believe, though, that your cat is doing this to show their love, the last thing you want to do is shoo them away.

Ideas to turn the session into some quality time instead of an annoyance might include:

  • Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed or using silicone nail caps
  • Using a thick blanket or towel to add a layer of protection between your kitty’s paws and yourself
  • Busting out a brush to groom your cat and return some affection
  • Moving your cat to a comfy bed near you for them to continue their kneading
  • Turning their attention to something else such as a favorite toy

There are plenty of ways to let your cat know that you enjoy their company without enduring unwanted kneading.

Cat behavior can be a little hard to read, but you know your kitty best. Sometimes even typically happy animal behaviors like purring and kneading are exhibited when something isn’t quite right. If you are worried about your cat or they are exhibiting behaviors outside of their normal, don’t hesitate to call us so we can check it out. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the fun and entertaining joys of owning a cat.