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Thread: Why do cats knead?

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Why do cats knead?

    Why do cats knead? : Tails Of The City

    Now that another "end of the world" has come and gone (and yep, they're all still here), I've decided it's time to tackle one of life's BIG questions: why do cats knead?



    Whether you have cats at home or not, 93% of people living in the United States will experience it personally at least once in their lives (I just made up that statistic, but it sounds about right): Miss Kitty crawls, leaps or otherwise appears on your lap and begins rhythmically stamping your stomach with her paws. If you're lucky, the cat in question will knead you with her claws retracted, but some cats enjoy extending their claws as they push in and retracting them as they pull back. (Yeowch!)

    Also known as a "cat dance," "paddling," "mouse massage" and "making biscuits," kneading harkens back to a time when wild cats patted down tall grass and leaves to make cozy nests. Cats will often choose a soft, pliable surface like a pillow, blanket, another pet or that extra bit around your middle as their preferred kneading surface before settling down for a catnap. This instinctive behavior is often accompanied by contented purring, and sometimes drooling as the cat sends herself into a trance-like state.


    Although kneading is said to be a cat's way of expressing how she feels about you, the more practical explanation is that she is marking her territory (which sometimes are one and the same). Cats have scent glands in the soft pads on their paws, close to their claws. When they knead, some of their unique scent is released. We can't smell this scent, but it sends a message to other cats to "back off" because they are trespassing on private property.

    Some female cats will knead just before going into heat as a sign of her ability to mate. She may also pace around the house, "mark" with urine, become extremely affectionate and assume the mating position (head low, with raised hindquarters) when you pet her. The best way to discourage these natural behaviors is to have your cat spayed.

    Cats are also thought to knead as a way of comforting themselves. Newborn kittens knead their mother's belly as they snuggle close to nurse. Some cats will even "suckle" the corner of a pillow or blanket while they are kneading. One unpopular theory claims that cats knead as a result of being weaned from their mothers too early. Yet because nearly all adult cats knead, this seems unlikely to be true.

    If your cat is an "over-achiever kneader" (especially if she likes to use her claws), its good incentive to trim her nails regularly, (use a toenail clipper to nip off the sharp, curved tip of each claw; just be careful not to cut the quick, where tiny blood vessels and nerves are located). You can also keep an old pillow or blanket next to your favorite chair to cushion your lap. To dissuade your cat from kneading you, try gently holding her front paws together, petting her or using a favorite toy or a treat as a distraction. Whatever you do, pet behavior experts agree that it's not appropriate to punish a cat for natural and instinctive behaviors like kneading.

    If a cat uses her claws to scratch the furniture or pull at people and their clothing, a firm "No!" or a light squirt with a water bottle can be an effective deterrent. You can also reward your cat for stopping with a "good kitty!" and a treat.

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    Elite Member OrangeSlice's Avatar
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    Aww. My kitteh's do this all the time. Mostly with their claws unfortunately. Nice to know they are marking their territory. I like being owned by them.
    "Schadenfreude, hard to spell, easy to feel." ~VenusinFauxFurs

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    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with my cats doing this on me - except for one. She goes at it with bruising enthusiasm. Its more like being stomped than kneaded.
    I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. Hunter S Thompson

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    my cats do it, and i believe its to comfort themselves. we call it 'making biscuits'
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    Elite Member KristiB's Avatar
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    My cat gives excellent back massages

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    btw, the chick in that photo is FAAAAAAAAAAAAAT
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    My kitten, though not sure I can still call her that, she's about 8 months old, is a constant kneader--when she's happy or just wants to lay down in her bed. She's so cute...

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    Elite Member Lalique's Avatar
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    One of my cats will drool puddles on you when kneading--its gross!
    What I really want to know is whether it makes your poop glow in the dark after eating it! ~ Kittylady

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    mine was kneading my butt the other night

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    Elite Member NoNoRehab's Avatar
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    We call it "pumpies" in our house.

    I too think it's something related to the way they nurse. My female cat will sometimes knead my arm and then kind of suckle it at the same time. Our boy cat (who we think was abandoned quite early by his mother and rescued) didn't start kneading until he was about two years old, and he's also kind of awkward at it.
    "Don't trust nobody, and 'nobody' meaning Jay Leno in particular." -Chris Rock

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    Gold Member Froogy's Avatar
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    Interesting! My Kitty, up until the end at 18 years old would always knead my throat for some reason. I must have a cushy neckline

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    Bronze Member bobbitcat's Avatar
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    My cats knead. When I'm being a couch potato and they jump up on me they dig their pointy toes into me. They get a quick nudge off me thats for sure.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    They are kneady.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
    Laugh Uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.

    - Mark Twain

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    Did we really knead a thread on this?

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    Elite Member Kathie_Moffett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeSlice View Post
    Aww. My kitteh's do this all the time. Mostly with their claws unfortunately. Nice to know they are marking their territory. I like being owned by them.
    Me too!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by KristiB View Post
    My cat gives excellent back massages
    I once rescued a stray Persian who'd been declawed (by the PREVIOUS owner of course)...he was preternaturally strong and actually DID give great back rubs! Then he'd ruin it by sneezing on me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    btw, the chick in that photo is FAAAAAAAAAAAAAT
    I think she's preggers

    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    They are kneady.


    Quote Originally Posted by baked_tater View Post
    Did we really knead a thread on this?
    I see Charlie's got his kneading stance ready to go there in your avi...
    Did you know that every time a parent gives in to their kid's whines and buys them candy at the checkout lane, a kitten gets diabetes?-Dlisted
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