Have you adopted a kitten or two recently? Congratulations! That tiny pet will likely have you wrapped around that little paw in no time. Kittens are so cute, and they can also be a bit of a handful. One thing you may encounter quite a bit over the next few months is little Fluffy’s habit of kneading, or making biscuits, as it’s sometimes called. What’s the deal with that? Here, a vet looks into this cute—and somewhat painful—habit.
Kneading probably isn’t your favorite kitty behavior. After all, those little guys have sharp claws! Why do cats knead? In case you were wondering, your fuzzy buddy isn’t purposely trying to hurt you. It’s actually an instinctive behavior. When Fluffy was still nursing, she kneaded to help stimulate milk flow. (This may give you a new-found respect for momma cats, who could have several tiny balls of fur kneading her at the same time!)
So, that explains kneading in baby cats. But why does your adult cat still do it? Why is Fluffy still making biscuits long after she’s full grown? This actually means that your feline buddy sees you as a second ‘momma,’ so to speak. As an adult, she’s not nursing so much as engaging in behaviors that show she feels loved and safe. You may have noticed that your kitty probably looks quite happy and purrs when she kneads. Love hurts!
Memories of early kittenhood may not be all that drives Fluffy’s kneading. Cats do have scent glands in their paws, so your kitty may be marking you as ‘her territory.’ There’s also a chance that your feline pal may just like the feeling of stretching her little toes.
Kneading is never something to punish Fluffy for. For one thing, she doesn’t know that it hurts you. Plus, this could make her feel uneasy or unloved. Instead of punishing her, try picking up her paw and gently rubbing it. That may still trigger that feeling of love and happiness, without causing you pain. Of course, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So it may just be easier to put a blanket or towel on your lap before letting your furball settle in.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if ever we can be of assistance. As your local animal clinic, we are here to help with all of your cat care ‘kneads.’