Kneading: A Cat's Multifaceted Behavior - What Does It Really Mean?

by Ana Carvalho on June 03, 2023

Cats are known for their quirky behaviors, and one of the most endearing is kneading. Kneading is when a cat rhythmically pushes its paws in and out against a soft surface, such as a blanket or a human lap. This behavior is often accompanied by purring and can be a sign of contentment and relaxation. But why do cats knead in the first place?

One theory is that kneading is a remnant of kitten behavior. When kittens nurse, they knead their mother's belly with their paws to stimulate milk flow. As cats grow older, this behavior can become a sign of comfort and security, reminding them of their early days with their mother.

Another theory is that kneading is a way for cats to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws, and kneading can release pheromones that mark the area as their own. This may be why cats often knead before settling down to sleep in a particular spot.

Kneading can also be a sign of happiness and relaxation. When a cat is feeling content and relaxed, it may knead as a way to release tension and feel more comfortable. This may be why cats often knead when they are curled up in their owners' laps, enjoying a cozy nap.

Finally, some experts believe that kneading is simply a way for cats to stretch and exercise their paws. The motion of kneading can help to keep a cat's muscles and joints limber, especially if the cat is older or less active.

Whatever the reason behind kneading, it is clear that this behavior is a natural and instinctual part of a cat's behavior. So the next time your furry friend starts kneading, enjoy the feeling of those warm, soft paws and know that your cat is feeling happy and content in your presence.

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