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Surprising Reasons Behind the Kneading Behavior in Cats

Kneading Behavior in Cats
Kneading is a common activity carried out by all cats. When cats feel content they push their front paws in a rhythmic fashion. They knead in your lap, pillows, carpets and rugs. Although, it is a weird habit, it is often quite instinctual. It's a good sign that your cat is content and happy with you.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2018
Tabby cat kneading her cushion
Cats have distinct personalities unique to each individual feline. Cats do have mood swings like humans. How else can you explain their weird and peculiar behavior? Do you know why your cat stares at you? Or why do they feel happy shredding your precious drapes to tatters? Cats have developed "symbiotic social behavior" over thousands of years with their human counterparts. Once you bring a cat into your house, your house doesn't belong to you anymore. The house belongs to your cat.
Cats, and all other pets for that matter, manage to communicate with their humans via body language. Once you manage to decipher it, you'll know the reason behind the mysterious behavior of your cat.
What is Kneading?
One of the most common behavior of cats is 'kneading'. The rhythmic motion of pushing the claws in and out maybe a fun-filled activity for your cat, but a painful experience for you, when it extends the claws in your thighs. There are a few logical explanations to this typical cat behavior.
Kneading is an inherited behavior formed in kittenhood. Kittens knead the mother's teat to stimulate milk flow. This action of kittens is called 'milk thread' as this is carried out during nursing. When the kitten drinks faster than the milk flow, kneading helps them promote the flow of milk.
This behavior is brought out in any soft, warm area, including your lap. It is usually done when a cat is satisfied, content or happy. It is the cat's way of expressing 'I am comfortable with you'. When your cat kneads excessively in your lap, it means it has may have adopted you as a mother-figure.
Cats may also knead when they are sexually active. It is very common for female cats in heat to exhibit kneading. In male cats, it is a mating ritual. When your male cat becomes too aggressive while kneading, you better move out of his way.
There is another reason for cats to carry out this unusual behavior. Cats have scent glands on their pads. They are located near the base of their claws. This scent unnoticeable by humans is used to mark territories. Other animals including felines can sense these distinctive smells. Cats use this method to mark the boundaries along their territories.
Thus, the next time your cat kneads on your carpets or pillows there may be a chance it is in "kitten-mode" or marking its territory. If your cat kneads in your lap, hold your head high, as she may be marking you with her scent, proclaiming to the world that you belong to her!
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