Why Do Cats Knead Things With Their Paws?

Why Do Cats Knead Things

Why Do Cats Knead Things? Cats have the habit of kneading their favorite objects or parts of your body with their paws. If it happens, don’t push your cat away, because that way they show that they feel at ease. People with a cat must have noticed that cats are sometimes kneading or caress certain objects or body parts. They not only do that for pleasure, but they also want to say something with it.

Not all cats knead with the front legs. When kittens drink by their mothers, they make kneading movements with their front legs to stimulate milk gift. With many adult cats, you see the same behavior in situations where they feel comfortable and safe; for example, sitting on people’s lap. A soft sweater or blanket can provoke a milking gift. The cat often purrs and closes its eyes.

Many cats do it; they make kicking/kneading movements with their front legs while spinning with half-closed eyes. Where does this behavior come from? Why does a cat kneading me, and what does the kneading behavior mean? So, why do cats knead things with their paws? In this blog post, you can read and learn more about this behavior.

Why Do Cats Knead Things With Their Paws?

Kneading is a leftover behavior from kittenhood. Cats start to knead as kittens to stimulate the mother’s milk production. Why do they continue kneading when they are adults? Kneading a soft surface doesn’t yield milk, but an adult cat is kneading when it feels happy or satisfied. The movement is associated with the comfort and nursing of the mother.

There are also people who say that cats knead because they were taken away from their mother too early as kittens and now continue kitten-like behavior as adults. It’s more likely that cats knead because it’s comforting to cats.

Kneading can also be another way for cats to scent and claim an area. Cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws. When they knead things with their paws, they spread the scent.

While kneading, the cat is relaxed, has a relaxed jaw and your cat is often in an almost trance-like state. Kneading is often a precursor when cats are going to sleep. Many cats purr while kneading. A cat may appear irritated or surprised if it is disturbed while kneading.

Scent markings

Cats are territorial creatures and to protect their turf they scent-mark the belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area or person, they are activating the scent glands and marking that item as theirs.

Boys where are you?

Female cats have an extra reason for kneading. By female cats, it is known that they knead their paws just before going into estrus. Commonly known as “going into heat.” Kneading works as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate. Male cats see this kneading behavior and respond to it.

How do cats knead?

Kneading is sometimes called baking cookies because the movement is like kneading the dough. Kneading is the movement that cats make by rhythmically vary their paws and pushing in and out against soft object that is pliable. A soft object can be a pillow, a fleece plaid, another kitten or cat, or even your lap. Not all cats knead in the same way; some never use, and some use all the four paws at all.

The cat presses a strong downward pressure with its paw, opens its toes to expose its claws, closes its claws and then lifts the paw. The kneading process is doing with alternating paws at intervals of one to two seconds. Cats can do this while sitting on your lap but this can be painful if your cat is large or has sharp or strong claws. Most cats sit on a hard surface when they knead, but they will only knead a soft or pliant surface. Some cats will reflexively “march” on hard surfaces instead of kneading them.

Cats knead things

If you look at the kneading behavior of cats, they usually opt for soft objects. Below is a list of the most common and the weirdest things that cats knead. Keep a soft, fuzzy product close by your cat; it will automatically direct start kneading sessions.

Stuff that cats like to knead

  • pillow
  • blanket
  • carpet
  • clothing
  • duvet
  • duvet cover

Crazy things that knead cats

  • grass
  • dog
  • cat
  • furniture
  • food
  • itself
  • people/human


Yoga cat

Cats spend two-thirds of their day asleep. Or so we think, even when cats dozing off they are actually on full-alert. Cats are very flexible; they are natural yoga masters and can certainly do yoga. Many cats keep themselves limber trough kneading. You can see kneading as a kind of yoga exercise.

If a cat is naturally wake up, they are kneading before they are doing some stretches. Because cats do naps, cats are kneading and stretching to let their blood circulate.

Strong nails

If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting it, your cat returning the affection and telling you it loves you. Unfortunately, kneading can be very painful because the happier your cat is, the harder your cat digs with the nails. The best thing to do is to place a thick and soft barrier between your cat and your lap.

Also, you can gently place your cat on the back and pet your cat’s belly if it gets too intense. However, don’t punish your cat for this behavior. Your cat doesn’t know it hurts.

Can cats knead too much?

Cats are kneading as a way to show affection but also to calm themselves, because it provides great comfort. Your cat feels secure with you when it is kneading. Congratulations. But when does a cat knead too often? For example, if your cat is alone for a long period, your cat will knead more when you are home. Try to give more attention to your cat by playing, brushing, hugging and talking in a friendly tone. This will help your cat to de-stress.

If your cat begins kneading obsessively, it may be a sign that something with it is amiss, in which case you should contact your veterinarian.

Why do cats give massages to dogs?

As you can read in this post, kneading is an instinctual, natural and generic cat behavior. Cats do it when they’re happy, feeling comfortable or satisfied. The behavior of the cat’s brain belongs to the instinct that kittens are kneading their mother to get milk. Kittens don’t think about cause and effect to get milk. They knead because it is automatic, the behavior is programming in kittens and cats. A cat does not think about why it is kneading and what the result is.

The brain rewards cats with pleasurable neurotransmitters when cats are kneading. Why do cats give massages to dogs? They do it because it feels good and comfortable. If the cat kneads a dog, it probably doesn’t think about what the dog feels, whether the dog likes it and whether it makes sense. However, it does not matter, if the dog and cat are satisfied, it is good.

If you see or notice that your dog does not like the cat’s massage, help your dog by removing your cat. Don’t punish your cat.

Video of cats that giving massages to dogs



Cats have many funny and unique behavioral traits, and kneading is just one of them. This is some of the more popular reasons for why cats are kneading, but it’s maybe not all the reasons. Whatever the reason is: summarized is that kneading is instinctual, natural and typical cat behavior.

If you like this post, then you may want to look at some posts in the Cat life part, since this post is also part of it.

Hopefully, you have learned something about why cats knead things. Also, when you know someone who likes to know more about Why Do Cats Knead Things With Their Paws? Then feel free to share this post. Additionally, which objects does your cat like to knead?

By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.

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