Cat Kneading – The Good and The Bad
28 August, 2012
We love are feline friends as they have so many interesting traits and behaviors. I have always been interested in a very common behavior called kneading. Any cat owner knows that kneading is the adorable motion cats make by pushing in and out with their paws, alternating between right and left paw. Some cats knead with their claws retracted, while others extend their claws as they push in and retract as they pull back.
Cat kneading is usually done on a soft, pliable surface like a pillow, a comforter, another cat or even your lap or leg! Kneading is usually accompanied by purring and sometimes even drooling as the cat relaxes its jaw. Cats are almost in a trance-like state as they knead with a steady, rhythmic motion.
Why do cats knead?
Cats are genetically wired to knead without even thinking about it. Newborn kittens knead their mother’s belly when they nurse and the motion is thought to stimulate the flow of milk through her nipples. This instinctive behavior is very comforting to cats.
There’s also a more practical aspect to kneading. Cats have scent glands in the soft pads on the bottoms of their paws. When they knead, some of their scent is released onto the surface being kneaded and that scent serves as a territorial marker for any unfamiliar cats that might come along and try to stake a claim.
So when your cat is kneading your lap or face, he’s not only telling you he feels comfortable and secure, but he’s claiming you as his or her own.
If your cat kneads you, some tips to stop him or her.
If your cat kneads you frequently, make sure, for obvious reasons, to keep his or her claws trimmed in order to avoid being scratched or having your clothing snagged. (Just use a regular toenail clipper to nip off the sharp, curved tip of each claw, being careful not to cut down into the quick, where tiny blood vessels and nerves are located.) You could also keep a folded towel next to your favorite chair, and use it to protect your lap as your cat kneads you with his paws.
If the kneading motion is uncomfortable enough to really bother you, you can try gently pulling your cat down into a lying position so he or she settles down and goes to sleep. Other tricks to stop the kneading include holding your cat’s front paws together, petting your cat or distracting him or her with a toy or a treat. Obviously, never punish your kitty for kneading even if you are scratched.
I hope these tips help if your cat kneads you excessively!