SECTIONS
What would you like to know?
Share this Story

Why do cats knead? The answers may surprise you

Nadine Avola

by

Beauty

Nadine is a film/TV actress, appearing in the new Vacation movie this summer. She's also been in Sydney White, Guiding Light, and Game On — an Italian Disney TV series.

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons

Cats have lots of quirks: meowing from the rooftops, sprinting around after they poop and attacking your ankles as you walk by — such oddities that we can't help but love. But they also seem to be master masseuses and great pillow fluffer-uppers. What's up with that?

"Kneading is the rhythmic pushing and pulling movement they do with their paws, as distinct from scratching on items such as furniture or carpets," Dr. Eloise Bright, a resident veterinarian at Love That Pet, explains. "Cats knead for a number of reasons, and there is not really one known reason for why they actually do it."

We found seven reasons for your cat's inclination to knead you... or your hair... or the bed... or the dog?

1. Milking

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

"Cats instinctively knead as kittens when nursing from mum to help along her milk production," Bright tells SheKnows. Shawn Simons — founder of Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, a nonprofit, Los Angeles-based feral cat rescue — also adds, "This motion is closely tied to a time when they were little, comforted, and warm milk would flow endlessly. Now you see why they need to revisit that time!"

More: 50 Cute kitten names for your adorable new fluffball

2. Affection

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

"The reason cats knead is for comfort and affection. It is a relaxation technique; it shows they trust you and they like you," says Dr. Elyse Kent, D.V.M., who is a preferred provider at Vet24seven — a new app that allows pet owners to consult with vets from their phone. Simons looks at kneading this way: "This Zen moment is like a hug."

3. Nesting

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

"Cats knead when they are relaxing, perhaps as a throwback to setting up a little nest of grass to get comfortable on," Bright suggests. PetMD also advises that this habit could originate from our cats' wild ancestors, as they would knead tall grass to set up a bed or check for unwanted visitors underneath.

4. Ownership

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

Bright explains, "Cats also have scent glands on their feet, so perhaps kneading is also a way of 'owning' you or a specific item, such as a piece of furniture."

5. Stretching

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

Dr. Bernadine Cruz, D.V.M. — an associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital and pet expert, appearing on shows like Cats (A&E) and Petcetera (Discovery Channel) — notes the following: "Kneading can be a very soothing behavior for a cat. They will typically extend and flex their paws when they are content. You may even find that they drool a bit simultaneously — feline bliss."

More: 5 Tips that will give you happier, friendlier kitties

6. Going into heat

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

PetMD also adds that female cats tend to knead right before going into heat. It may be considered as a sign to a male cat that she is ready for some TLC.

7. Happiness

Cats knead for at least 7 different reasons
Image: Giphy

"[Kneading] is similar to purring in that it's showing contentment, except only one in 100 cats will knead," Kent explains. However, she notes, "It has nothing to do with being taken away from their mother too early; that is just a myth. They are simply expressing their affection."

More: The best grain-free cat foods to keep your cat healthy

This post was brought to you by Tidy Cats.

Tagged in
Comments
Hot
New in Pets & Animals
Close

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!