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Why Do Cats Knead?



Paws Off — That’s Mine!


Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they safeguard their turf is to scent-mark their belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area (yes, including you), they’re activating the scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottom of their paws, thereby marking that item as theirs.


Is It Hot In Here?


Female cats have an additional reason for kneading: they’re known to knead their paws just before going into estrus — commonly known as "going into heat." Kneading acts as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate.




Cats have many unique and amusing behavioral traits, and kneading is just one of them. So even though these are some of the more popular ideas for why cats are thought to knead, it certainly doesn’t provide all of the possible reasons. For example, some cats knead just before they’re about to take a nap. Whatever reason your cat kneads, the one thing all these ideas have in common is that kneading is natural, instinctual, and common cat behavior.


Image: Dave / via Flickr


Comments  5

Leave Comment
  • Really?
    12/15/2014 12:59pm

    I will buy the first listed reason of instinct and milk yields but the rest really sounds like a bunch of bologna.

  • 04/17/2015 01:34pm

    Actually, this all sounds perfectly reasonable. However, I'd suggest ignoring the advice that you should put a cat on its back and pet his tummy. You should not do this ever unless you have one of those unusual cats that actually like belly rubs. Most cats will grab your hand/arm and try to disembowel it with their hind claws if you touch their tummies. Bad idea.

  • 05/01/2015 04:25am

    My cats all love to have their bellies rubbed.
    I know people say they don't like it, I have heard it all my life but honestly I can remember one who hated it and most want you to do it. They might get over stimulated and bite after a couple of minutes though so watch out for the inevitable!

  • 07/21/2015 11:49am

    My cat will only knead furry surfaces so the kitten reflex carry over seems the best answer.

  • Kneading
    01/03/2015 06:22am

    Is there a way to stop too much kneading? My cat drives me nuts.

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