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A Universal Behavior: Why do Cats Knead?

In our opinion, there are few things cuter than a feline making bread. Yes, you read that right. Preparing biscuits, kneading dough, baking the proverbial meow muffins…whatever adorable euphemism you choose, they all describe a universal behavior of cats. Both wild and domesticated felines zero-in on this instinct, begging the question: why do cats knead?

The Happiness Reflex

The kneading instinct is honed as a kitten to stimulate mother’s milk. As a result, this action was connected to all the best possible feelings. A fully weaned cat may continue to associate kneading with complete happiness and security.

So, cats knead because of a strong connection to a milk reward? As kittens, yes. The best researchers and behaviorists can only theorize why cats continue to knead throughout life.

Other Reasons

Your cat’s ancestors would lay down in tall grasses, leaves, or brush. They may have used a kneading action to fashion a cozy bed or to uncover other animals hiding out.

Did you know that your female cat will knead prior to going into heat? Beyond indicating that she is an excellent spooner, kneading signals that she is ready to mate with eligible male cats.


Your cat has scent glands inside the paw pads. When he or she kneads your belly, blanket, or pillow, the message is loud and clear: all mine!

The Kinks

When cats knead, they get an excellent back, shoulder, and arm workout. Kneading can also cause your cat to stretch out any sore or tired muscles and joints, adding to the good feelings.

And Claws

If your cat chooses to knead you, consider it a compliment! However, it can be offputting if his or her claws are out. Remember, the happier cats get when kneading, the more likely they’ll be to use their claws. Your cat doesn’t understand this might hurt you, so try to place a cushy blanket or pillow between you and your pet’s paws. You can resume petting your cat while he or she kneads, but you won’t have to suffer.

We Love When Cats Knead

There are so many feline behaviors to admire and appreciate, and kneading is certainly one of them. Cats knead when they’re happy, satisfied, and content. As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing wrong with that!

If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on kneading, please contact our team.

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