Six Reasons Why Your Cat May be Kneading

Have you ever wondered why your cat kneads you or the ground? We uncover the reasons for this seemingly strange behaviour.

If you own a cat, you’re likely to have come across them kneading – rhythmically pressing their paws in and out against the ground or their bed. Maybe, they’ve even kneaded your lap and caught their nails in your clothing or skin in the process!

But have you ever wondered why your cat is kneading? What’s the purpose behind this seemingly strange behaviour and is it good, bad, or otherwise?

Some reasons why cats knead

1. It’s something they pick up as kittens

When your cat was a kitten, it would knead its mum’s belly to stimulate milk production. As an adult, of course, your cat won’t need to nurse but this action is quite comforting and relaxing, which is why it’s followed them into adulthood.

2. They’re expressing their love for you

If you’re sitting comfortably on the couch with your cat purring away on your lap, you may also notice them kneading against you, or your arm if you’re petting them. This isn’t them pushing you away, in fact, it’s their way of showing their affection for you. And the harder they’re kneading, the more they love you.

3. They’re marking their territory

While kneading your lap could be a sign of affection, it could also be their way of claiming you as their own. Cats have scent glands on their paws, so whenever they’re kneading against something, traces of their scent are left behind and they could be using this behaviour to mark you as their own.

4. They’re getting ready for a nap

Much like dogs will circle or re-arrange their blanket before finally curling up, your cat may use kneading as a way to ‘make their bed’. They’re patting down the ground and making sure it’s comfortable for them to nap on.

5. Cat yoga

Just like us humans, cats need to get their blood circulating again after being asleep. By pushing their paws out one by one your cat is having a good stretch and waking themselves up after their nap.

6. They’re ready for mating

If your female cat is unspayed, their kneading may be a way to indicate that they’re ready for mating.

Now that you understand the various reasons behind why cats knead, next time you catch them at it, see if you can work out which one applies at that particular time. And, if your cat likes to pull their claws while they’re kneading, it may pay to keep their nails trimmed to prevent damage to yourself, your clothes, and your furniture!