Kneading is a cat behavior, wherein the cat moves the paws of the forelegs back and forth, while alternating between the right and left paws. This is commonly referred to as the “Kneading dough” or the “making biscuits” action. Generally, a cat loves kneading on soft surfaces such as pillows and blankets, other animals, and even people. Cat parents interpret this motion as a sign of happiness, love, and content. However, there are other hypotheses too for this behavior.
Kneading could be reminiscent of kittenhood. Kittens tend to have a rhythmic behavior while nursing on their mothers. Latching and kneading help stimulate milk production. So, this is an inherent act, and it activates the pleasure center of the nervous system.
A cat also kneads to express love and affection towards its human parent and as an indication of being comfortable with the care and companionship rendered. Upon finding the parent lying down, a cat may climb onto the parent’s stomach and start kneading. This can hurt the parent in case the cat’s claws are not trimmed, and it is hard to discourage a pet that has set out to display affection. Hence, it is recommended that parents trim the cat’s claws regularly and keep soft and fuzzy blankets or pillows handy to place over their tummy.
Also, cats knead to define their territory. The bottom of a cat’s paw pads has scent glands; kneading releases the scent. A cat uses this scent to communicate with the other cats in the vicinity about its mood and reproductive status.
Kneading gives cats a great sense of comfort – the act indicates that a cat is happy, feeling secure and loved, and at times, ready for a peaceful nap.
PetHelpful. Why do cats like to knead? https://pethelpful.com/. Accessed June 2, 2021.
Joseph C. Why do cats knead. https://www.livescience.com/. Accessed June 2, 2021.