We have all felt it before, those two paws on our belly, leg or even head, just pressing away. If you're a new cat owner, it may come as a surprise and confuse you, but many of us know this is a sign of affection. There's a lot of reasons why cats knead but understand that it's a good thing and you shouldn't worry. Read on to find out the details!
What is kneading?
You can tell when a cat is kneading by the motion they are making with their paws. Think of their paws as two stamps that is pressing one after the other. These paws are much more dangerous with untrimmed nails, so make sure to keep the nails trimmed. Most of the time you see cats kneading on soft objects such as the carpet, couches and even the human body (aka. my chest/stomach area).
Why do cats knead?
Kittens learn how to knead instinctively to stimulate milk production in their mothers. From there it becomes more of a mental reaction whenever the cat feels good or affectionate about something (usually for hoomans). This is a comforting routine that can happen when you are petting your cat or if feel especially happy sitting on your lap.
Both of our cats knead, actually, I don't believe I've seen a cat that doesn't knead. Precious is our older cat and she would knead as long as you keep petting her, she'll even knead you to give you incentive to pet her. It's pretty much a routine at this point, she will walk into our laps, start kneading and in return get a few pets. Jimmy tends to do this only at night and when he is ready to cuddle in a sleep, he'll knead our stomachs or chests for a bit before laying his head down and resting.
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Can kneading be too much?
During the whole process go kneading, your cat may start unsheathing their nails and dig into you harder. Most of the time this isn't a big deal if the cat is trying to knead through our jeans (they tend to be great at dealing with sharp nails). However, if you are wearing shorts or clothes that are thinner it might be good to rest a blanket on you before a kneading session.
Enjoy this cat kneading gif
What should you do as the human when the cat does knead?
There's no right or wrong thing to do when your cat starts kneading you or the couch. Most of the time they would enjoy some sort of interaction, that can be a quick scratch under the chin or a 5 minute petting session. I've also tried kneading my cat back by using my index and middle fingers and pressing them gently on their side. Both my cats seem to enjoy this, although it will vary between cats.
What happens if they only knead the couch?
This can happen and we have marks on our couch to prove it. There's a few things that we can do to help prevent this. The first one is to keep your cats from coming onto the couch to begin with. Discipline them to keep away from the couch and shoo them off when they even think about it. Another thing is to provide your cats with an alternative loafing spot, we have a cat tree that works great for this.
Special Tip: Put the tree near a window to guarantee that your cat will use it frequently!
So why do cats knead? It's for comfort, for love, and affection. Most felines are playful and love to interact with their owners. If you haven't interact back, try it, it'll be a completely new experience. This is a common cat behavior that you'll see all the time with cats of any age. Embrace it!