Have you recently adopted a kitten? Congratulations! Your tiny pet will probably have you wrapped around that little paw in no time. Kittens are beyond cute. They’re also a bit of a handful. One thing you may find yourself dealing with quite a bit over the next few months is little Fluffy’s habit of kneading, or making biscuits, as it is sometimes called. What’s that all about? A vet looks into this cute—and somewhat painful—habit below.
Kneading probably isn’t anyone’s favorite kitty behavior. After all, those little claws are sharp! Why do cats knead? In case you were wondering, your fuzzy buddy isn’t deliberately trying to hurt you. This is actually an instinctive behavior. When Fluffy was a nursing kitten, kneading helped stimulate milk flow. (This may spark a new respect for momma cats, who could have several tiny balls of fur kneading her at once!)
So, that explains kneading in baby cats. But what about adults? Why is Fluffy still making biscuits long after she’s officially grown up? This actually means that your feline buddy sees you as a second ‘parent,’ so to speak. She isn’t nursing at this point so much as exhibiting behaviors that she associates with feeling loved and safe. You may have noticed that your kitty probably purrs and looks quite happy when she kneads. Love hurts!
Fluffy may not just be kneading because it reminds her of her early kittenhood. Cats do have scent glands in their paws, so your kitty may be marking you as ‘hers.’ There’s also a chance that your feline pal may just find it feels good to stretch her little toes.
You should never punish Fluffy for kneading. For one thing, she doesn’t realize it hurts you. Plus, this could make her feel uneasy or unloved. You can try picking up her paw and gently rubbing it instead. That may still trigger that feeling of love and happiness, without the accompanying ouchies. Of course, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You may find it easiest just to put a towel or blanket on your lap before letting your furball get comfy.
Please do not 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.’