Have you ever wondered why your cat looks as though it's kneading dough? This is quite a common feline behaviour and is often done on soft surfaces, like a blanket or even on your lap which can sometimes be a little painful if they use their claws!
So Why Do Cats Knead?
Not all cats knead, and some do it very infrequently; there are various explanations for why cats knead:
- When still in their litter, kittens knead the area around its mother's teat to promote the flow of milk - so it might be that your cat kneads because it is feeling content and they may continue to do this into adulthood as it associates the act of kneading with its mother.
- Another thought is that it may be a natural instinct that they pat down or knead a soft surface before they settle down - like cats in the wild used to do to foliage to make themselves comfortable.
- Alternatively, as cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws, it could be another way of marking their territory - just like they do when they are marking their territory by rubbing against your leg or the furniture.
- It could simply be a sign of pleasure when kneading on your lap, as they are showing that they are feeling secure with you, just as they felt with their feline mother.
- Conversely, some cats may knead because they are stressed and it is a way they try to soothe themselves.
- Female cats may also knead when they are on heat - and if they have not been neutered it could be to let male cats know they are ready to mate. So if your cat is also being more affectionate than normal, wanting to go outside and being vocal it could be because they want to get up close and personal with their male companion!
How to Ensure Your Cat's Needs Are Met!
You might find that if your cat kneads your lap with its claws out, it can be painful! This is an instinctive behaviour and you should not punish your cat, as they are probably being affectionate - but you do need to protect yourself and your family from their scratches as sometimes this can lead to infections in humans. Your kneading, purring kitty can be pretty cute as long as your lap is properly protected.
Don't stop them from kneading, but put a soft barrier (like a blanket) on top of your skin to protect yourself and to catch the effects of your kitty's claws. Keeping your kitties nails clipped will also limit any sharp kneading!
However, if it appears to be a self soothing action and your pet is taking a long time to settle, try stroking them gently and encourage them to lie down and relax - but do take note of any possible stressors. If you think your cat is kneading too frequently, or they knead for long periods of time, it may be that there is an underlying cause that's making them feel stressed, so best get your furry friend checked by a vet.
In times of kitty stress, using a FELIWAY Optimum Diffuser, plugged in in the room where your kitty spends the most time, will help them stay serene at home, and helps cats to reduce stress .