Kneading. Making biscuits. There a few names for it, but if you have a cat, you’ve likely seen this behaviour in your cat – the rhythmic, back-and-forth pressing of their paws into a blanket, your favourite sweater or any other soft item. It’s completely normal, yet many wonder why they do it.
Here are some reasons:
It’s an old childhood habit. If you’ve ever seen a kitten nursing, you will notice that they use the same motion against their mother’s belly when feeding to stimulate the flow of milk. The feeling of comfort that this creates can last a lifetime.
This place is mine! They may be claiming that space as their own – and that can include you. Cats leave their scents on things and people they consider to be theirs. Kneading releases pheromones that are stored in scent glands in their paws and the action mark the blanket, sweater – or you – as their own.
It’s a wonderful way to stretch. Cats love to stretch! They do it when they get up from a nap, using the scratch pole and when kneading. Sometimes it just feels good!
They’re nesting. Many wild animals create beds, dens and other places that are comfortable to spend time in during rest time or to give birth to young. As a throw-back to a time before cats were domesticated, kneading is often a means to create a nice soft spot to spend some time napping.
They’re happy. While there are some biological reasons cats knead, sometimes it simply boils down to having one happy cat! Showing pleasure while being petted, snuggling in for a snooze or kneading your lap because they are happy you are there. All great reasons to make those biscuits!
One other point to remember. Cats knead both with their claws retracted and with them extended. If they are kneading you and those claws make their way through your clothing, it can be painful for you! Ensure there is sufficient material to protect your skin or shift your cat to a better spot that is safer. Should a rogue claw make its way through and give you a stab, avoid punishing your cat for what was an innocent accident during very natural and comforting behaviour. Trimming your cat’s nails is easy and will help avoid this as well.