Kneading is a common cat behavior—it’s characterized by an alternated pressing of the front paws into an object or surface, such as a bed, pillow, litter, or even your leg. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly is behind this behavior, read on as your Fox Lake, IL veterinarian tells you about the possible reasons for kneading behavior in our feline friends.
Your cat’s paw pads contain scent glands, and the scent is released into an object when the paws are pressed against it. In this way, cats can mark that object and the surrounding territory as their own. This explains why cats often knead in the areas they’re most comfortable in; it’s likely that your cat is marking her bed, her favorite chair, or even you as her very own!
You may have witnessed kittens kneading their mother’s belly while nursing. The consistent alternated pressing of the paws is believed to stimulate milk production in the mother. Adult cats who knead may be doing so as a sort of “remnant” childhood behavior, and they may associate the feelings they get from kneading with the contentment and comfort they felt while nursing.
Preparing for Naps
Kneading behavior often occurs before cats bed down for a nap; they may knead a pillow, blanket, or their cat bed. Many experts believe that the ancient wild cats that our domesticated pets evolved from used kneading to soften up surfaces of grass or dirt, making these areas suitable for napping. These instincts may very well have been passed down to our modern day house cats!
Many cats knead when they’re being petted and loved on. Cats often seem to knead when they’re being shown affection, and it may be that kneading is a cat’s way of showing their own affection back! If your cat’s kneading is painful thanks to her sharp claws, blunt the nail tips with a feline-specific nail trimmer.
Do you have more questions about your cat’s behavior or care regimen? Does your cat need professional veterinary attention? Contact your Fox Lake, IL animal hospital today for help.