If you've ever seen your cat kneading, or “making biscuits”, then you know how adorable, calming, and sometimes perplexing it can be. Kneading is an essential behavior that cats of all breeds engage in and it's a sign of contentment and affection that they show toward their owners. The act of kneading also serves several purposeful benefits that have evolutionary grounds rooted in ancestry. In this blog post, we will discuss what exactly kneading is, why cats enjoy doing it, and how to avoid getting scratched when the biscuits are getting made a little too hard.
What is kneading?
Kneading is when a cat presses their paws against a soft surface, such as a blanket or your lap, in a rhythmic motion. Some cats knead in a gentle motion, others use their claws to dig in, while others even incorporate mouth movements. The body language that accompanies this behavior can also vary. Some cats seem relaxed and content while kneading, while others may appear like they are on the clock getting work done.
Why do cats knead?
While the exact reason why cats knead is not fully understood, it is believed to be a combination of a few things. Firstly, kittens knead their mother's teats to stimulate milk production. Secondly, adult cats may knead as a sign of comfort and contentment, as it mimics the feeling of nursing. Finally, kneading may be a way for cats to mark their territory, as the scent glands in their paws leave behind a familiar scent.
How to avoid getting scratched when your cat is kneading
Kneading is undeniably adorable, but cat claws can leave marks on furniture and even painful scratches on our skin. A tip to manage your cat's kneading behavior it to try is to redirect their attention–you can provide a scratching post for them to get their claws into something that won’t get damaged, and you can direct them toward toys and get them to play if you don’t want them to knead on you. You can also put a blanket in between your body and the claws if you want to enjoy the kneading without the sharpness.
In most cases, kneading is adorable and it helps you bond–it releases endorphins that can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of comfort and relaxation. So the next time your cat starts to knead, embrace the moment of bonding and comfort.