Cats have the habit of pushing out and pulling in the paws of their front limbs, one after the other. This action in cats is called kneading. Why do cats knead? This is the first question that comes in mind when anyone observes this habit in a cat. Veterinary experts and other people have offered many explanations as to why cats knead.
Cats are said to start kneading at an early age. When sucking their mother’s breast, kittens knead against the breast as this action stimulates the milk glands to produce more milk. Kneading is also a sign that the kittens want more of the breast milk. Kittens knead their mother not only for milk but to seek love and attention. The attention of the mother cat is turned towards the kittens when it is kneaded. Kittens may also knead their mother as a signal to let the mother know that everything is Ok.
Older cats knead as a sign of contentment. When offered sufficient food or drink, a cat may lie and knead any soft material that is nearby, even the skin of the owner. When a cat is satisfied and is feeling comfortable, as a sign of appreciation it may climb on the owner to knead him. This may be uncomfortable to the owner but can be solved by covering yourself with a soft material.
Older cats are also known to knead in remembrance of their time as a kitten. The time spent by a cat as a Kitten is known to be characterized by happy moments including play, excitement and delicious breast milk. They also remember the warmth they enjoyed from the mother. This memory makes the cat to climb on to the lap of the owner or on any soft and warm surface to start kneading. Cat owners have to be patient with the cats at such moments as the cats may be trying to share their happy moments with them.
Cats also knead surfaces to make the surface more comfortable for themselves and their kittens. Cats may pull fibers off sofas, carpets or their own bed when they feel it is not comfortable enough for them or their kittens.
Another theory about cat kneading is that, cats that knead are most often those that were weaned too early. This theory does not however hold as almost every cat kneads, unless we say that all cats are weaned too early.
When your cat kneads, it is a sign that your cat is happy and contented with the conditions you have provided for it, though the exact reason of the kneading in each cat may not be known.