If you own a cat, you know what kneading is. For the rest of you, it’s when a cat seems like it is marching in slow motion, opening and closing its claws and paws on a soft surface.
My middle kitty Mo (about 8 months old) is a notorious kneader. Ever since we brought him home at only 6 weeks old, he as had an affinity for nestling up on our necks, taking his tiny cute little paws, and giving us this special kitty-massage. Granted, with claws it is more like a gardening instrument being run up and down the foot – but it’s cute.
Why on earth would a cat feel the need to do this?
Long ago when cats had to find their own shelter (not unlike today), tiny nests were built in the grass and debris – like a crop circle but smaller. They would flatten out an area of grass with their paws in the kneading motion to create a comfortable bed for themselves and their litter.
It is also said that as kittens, the kneading motion when drinking milk from the mother would encourage more to come out, associating the action with a reward. It is no surprise then that a kitty might try to knead a blanket, pillow, or even your lap to expect an equally pleasant prize.
A cat will typically knead when it is happy and content, along with purring; lets be honest, have you ever seen an angry or frustrated cat start kneading something? Even as I am writing this, Mo is hugging me like a human, purring like a truck, and kneading my neck (dripping moisture from his vibrating nose, to add).
It should also be noted that cats have a scent gland in their paws that rubs off when they go through the kneading process, effectively marking their “spots”. Much like a dog whistle, it is hard for the human senses to pick it up, but cats can smell it quite clearly.
A lot of speculation has mentioned that a cat that wasn’t weaned properly or too early will exhibit much more kneading in their early stages of development.
This could be the case with Mo, since we got him at only 6 weeks, but I don’t think it is a bad thing. There is something special about having a loud happy kitty hug, massage, mark you as their own, and fall asleep on you.
Do your own cats knead random soft things throughout the house? Share below-