Some cat lovers call this behavior kneading”, while others say it’s more like “biscuit-making,” but regardless of how you call it, almost all cats, young or old, like to massage things with their paws repeatedly at a rhythmical pace. This is most often accompanied by rolling their eyes and purring as a way of showing contempt and happiness.
Although this is a pretty adorable behavior in general, you might be wondering why they feel the need to do this. Is it a way for them to tell you something? A cat’s need to knead is usually connected to one of several different theories. This article will give you the most common reasons for a cat’s kneading and what you can do if you need it to stop.
One of the most prevalent theories about cats kneading is their happiness. When kittens are trying to get milk from their mothers, they would often knead their mom’s mammary glands as a way of stimulating the milk to come into the teat before a meal. It is very likely that, when reaching adulthood, cats would still associate this behavior with the relaxation and contentment brought on by the first meals, especially considering that a full stomach is always one of the easiest ways of making a cat happy.
If an adult cat is kneading on you, then you should know that she most probably associates you with contentment. A lot of cats also tend to knead on one of their favorite plush toys. It also happens that, while biscuit-making, the cat would tear the toy up, especially when the same toy is used for kneading again and again. This isn’t something out of the ordinary and surely not something you should stress about. Just buy a new toy when she tears up one of her old ones. The only thing you should be on the lookout for is that the cat isn’t ingesting small pieces of plush because these often cause issues in the gastrointestinal tract.
Cats have a habit of marking things they own. It is one of the reasons why most cat owners choose to spay/neuter their pets. You surely know of male cats that are unneutered and unspayed, that mark their territory using urine, as a way of discouraging other cats from getting close to the marked area or items. Even though you might be the one who pays for the house and everything inside of it, if you have a cat, she believes everything is hers, not yours.
Some studies have managed to show that the cat’s paws have very small scent glands, which leads to a theory stating that she would knead you as a way of claiming you. It’s the same as you writing your name on the objects you don’t want other people to take. In the same way, cats are telling other felines to back off, this belongs to them and nobody else.
If you think about it, if you get over how possessive this is, it’s also kind of sweet.
Some cats also like to knead right before settling down for a nap. This can be associated with behavior based on instinct that the ancestors of our domestic fur balls had before they went to sleep. Being in the wild, they needed to settle into their bedding and they probably used kneading as a way of tamping down the area where they planned to sleep, to make it more comfortable.
Some people believe that cats that knead were either weaned too early or taken away from their mothers too early, but this isn’t true. Considering that most cats enjoy leading regardless of their particular childhood and regardless of whether they have happy memories or not related to their mothers, a lot of experts consider it a myth.
According to other experts, female cats will also make use of kneading when trying to get the attention of males, being their way of telling them that they’re entering the estrus stage of their reproductive cycle when they are more receptive to mating.
This isn’t something as easy to prove considering that most owners choose to spay their cats long before they even go through an estrus period.
Although kneading is very cute, at some point you will most likely have enough of it. Although pretty much harmless, it will get pretty annoying most of the time. But how do you do this so that your cat doesn’t feel frightened or discouraged from seeking your company in the future?
The first thing you should do is trim your cat’s nails as often as possible. Most cats will lead using extended claws and the feeling can be really uncomfortable. Some small plastic sheaths can also be applied to the front nails of the pet. You can find them in some pet stores, are usually glued into place, and are often called Soft Paws. If your cat is the type that scratches everything, this solution also works for saving the furniture.
According to some behavioral experts, you should also try to redirect the cat so that she biscuits a soft toy, their bed, or another surface. You can also create a blockade between you and the animal, with the help of a soft fabric like a pillow or a toy. If these solutions don’t seem to work, then all that you are left with is getting up and walking away, at least for a short while. At some point, most cats will understand the message and stop.