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Why do cats knead?

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Kneading, it’s a common behavior for domestic cats and as a cat owner, you have without any doubt already seen this before. It’s when your cat uses its front paws to push in and out, while alternating between left and right. It can often be seen on soft surfaces. For example, on a blanket, on a pillow and even on humans (yes!). Besides that, it’s incredibly cute when your cat performs this motion! But what’s the reason for cats to do this?

It’s not completely clear why cats exactly knead, but science has come up with some possible explanations. A first hypothesis that could explain it, is described to be a leftover from their kittenhood. While nursing from their mother, a kitten will knead to help stimulate the mother’s milk production. So how come they keep doing this when they’re grown up? It’s simply because they associate this motion with the feeling and comfort of nursing. A kneading cat is usually purring as well, so it’s a happy cat!

My Purry Friends: Thinking cat

Another possible explanation dates back from a time before domestication. Wild cats would do this on grass or leaves, to create a comfy spot to lay down, take a cat nap or even give birth. It also gave them the opportunity to make sure there were no intruders hiding under the leaves. This behavior could still be an instinctual part of settling down.

Kneading could also be a way for cats to leave their scent on everything to claim their territory. You know what this means when they knead on you! When cats are kneading on your lap while you are petting, they are basically returning the favor and letting you know they like you too. Cats have sharp nails, so this could be painful sometimes. The happier they are, the harder they’ll dig their nails into you! Try to place a soft, but thick barrier between your purry friend and your lap to solve this little issue.

There is no exact reason to explain the kneading, but it’s cute and we love it!


My Purry Friends

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