Kittens love to knead those people who feed, play, or groom them because they feel safe and contented in your company.
Here are the eightreasons your kitten is kneading you!
- To show acceptance and contentment
- Strengthens your kitten’s’ bond
- An instinctive behavior to stimulate milk from their mum.
- Kneading alleviates anxiety.
- A form of stretching and easing their muscles.
- Transfers your kitten’s scent to mark you.
- It feels good to your kitten.
Young kittens use the kneading motion to either get milk (the kneading stimulates the milk glands on the kitten’s mother cat) or to demonstrate their comfort and trust.
Kneading is also affectionately known as ‘making biscuits’ as the motion used is like kneading biscuit dough.
1. Kneading is the Pathway to Bonding
Life for a young feline is full of change.
When they are placed in a new home without their mum and siblings, the young kitten will be drawn to bond with you as their surrogate mother, and they show their love by enthusiastically kneading your knee.
- When you look after your little munchkin, feed them, and offer warm cuddles, then naturally they will feel more bonded to you than any other person.
- Your kitten has accepted you as their mom and is demonstrating this fact.
Sitting still and letting your kitten knead you contentedly before they fall asleep will make you a favorite with your little kitty.
They cannot get comfortable with a squirmy, restless person who is always wriggling around.
2. Kittens Instinctively Knead.
Your kitten knows instinctively how to knead, as this characteristic has been handed down through the eons from mother to kitten, firstly to gain food, and secondly as a way of gaining comfort.
A cat in the wild will make a patch of grass comfortable to doze in by kneading and pushing the grasses into a cozy soft spot for them to nap in.
The cat ancestors have passed this habit down the line to your kitten.
A bit of pushing here, a knead or two there, and soon your youngster has a comfy bed just perfect for snoozing on.
In these modern times, your young feline will likely knead the sheets, soft fluffy blankets, or a spot of your lap to make it comfortable.
According to veterinarians, kittens start their kneading behavior shortly after their birth. Normally it begins with the kneading of their mum’s teats to stimulate the mother’s milk production.
But it is also a way that kittens calm themselves when they become anxious, as well as marking their mother from the scent glands within their paws so they can locate her easily.
The kneading habit becomes part of your feline’s life, from their youth through adulthood and into their senior years.
3. Anxiety is Eased Through Kneading
Kneading is also known affectionally as ‘making biscuits’ because the actions of your kitten kneading are much like kneading biscuit dough.
Watching a kitten kneading is quite hypnotic and comforting. Combine that motion with a rumbling purr, and it is almost as much fun to watch your kitten knead, as it is for them to be doing it.
A kitten who has been weaned from their mum too early can often obsessively knead their human. They can even chew ferociously on woolen blankets to the point of ingesting parts of the fluff which is not good for their internal workings.
To overcome this behavior, spend a lot of time with your kitten during the bonding stage.
Reassure them that everything is alright, and you are there for them. Let your kitten snuggle and knead, as it will help them to deal with any anxiety that they may be feeling.
4. Kneading Relaxes and Strengthens Muscle Tone
Kneading is also a way that your kitten can stretch their muscles. It is a way of limbering up before play, or a way to relax before taking a nap.
- Consider kneading to be the yoga for kittens and cats.
- The controlled moves along with the concentration on the movement – it all helps to warm their muscles.
- Like a well-trained yoga devotee, your kitten uses kneading to relax and focus their concentration on a precise series of movements that can prepare them for anything.
- The rhythmic pattern of kneading also relaxes a kitten and prepares them for sleep.
For playing or sleeping, your kitten likes to keep limber and flexible. Kneading is a valuable tool that does both.
That long distant memory of nursing, along with kneading, is one habit that is hard to kick.
5. Marking You as Their Property.
Your kitten may be marking you as their property! They can be territorial little devils, and they want every other living creature to know that you belong to them.
So while they are sweetly kneading you, they are depositing scent from the glands in their paws onto you.
The pushing and pulling of the motion make sure you are labeled properly. This scent effectively states ‘hands-off, she/he is mine!’ Kittens do not like to share!
Kneading is a way of asking you for attention. It is like they are begging, ‘Please pay attention to me human – see how cute I am?’
Some kittens are needier than others, but it is always nice to be wanted.
6. It Just Feels Good!
If you are wearing a fluffy wool jumper, it will fast become a favorite fabric that your kitten will love to knead. The softness of the fabric, the cuddly feeling, and the way they can just smoosh that fabric, well it is a winner in the kneading department.
- A kitten may chew or suck on woolen blankets or clothes while they earnestly knead you, which brings them a lot of contentment.
- Kneading starts when the kitten is born and is essential between the mother and the young kitten to ensure feeding begins.
- The feeling of satisfaction and comfort gained through kneading can be a hard habit to break.
- Even if your kitten doesn’t get any nutritional reward from their kneading, the young cat forever associates the motion of their kneading with the tasty, comforting feeling of nursing.
Kittens can be incredibly choosy when it comes to whom they knead.
While most often, it is the one who cares for them that they choose to knead, but sometimes they will just choose a random person that they do not even know well.
I guess that is just a kitten’s prerogative.
7. Claw Exposed Kneading
Not all young cats knead, and those that do often have a definite style.
Some kittens use all four paws, some kittens never use their claws, but other kittens unleash their claws – ouch!
- When the kneading becomes painful, put your kitten down gently.
- When they are kneading gently, praise them and show your pleasure.
- But when they start slicing you to pieces again with exposed claws, put them gently down again.
- Your kitten will soon get the message to keep their claws in.
- Keeping your kitten’s claws trimmed will help to keep kneading fun.
- If that fails, make sure you have a deep fluffy rug to protect your vulnerable knees for the exposed claw kneader!
Be aware that you can overstimulate your little kitten by too much petting and cuddling.
Do not insist on patting them continually and watch their body language. A swishing tail movement or if your kitten suddenly stops their kneading is an indication all is not well.
If you overdo the patting you will soon know, as your kitten will deliver a warning bite or two.
Do not go past this point, or your kitten will attack you with gusto and then stalk off in offense, tail high, and with indignation in every step!
When they want more patting, they will let you know by butting your hand and purring up a storm, and they will initiate kneading.
8. Doing It in the Air Shows Males They Are Ready to Mate
As a kitten grows up, the kneading motion has another purpose.
They may purr, stretch, and knead the air while they lay on their side to advertise to a male cat that they may be available to mate with.
Young kittens mature quickly, and they can be ready to reproduce by six months old.
Be aware of their age and get them in early to be neutered or spayed, as it can be heartbreaking when you must find homes for a litter of kittens.
The Last Word.
There is nothing so comforting as cuddling up to a kitten, listening to them purr, and having them knead up a storm on you.
A kitten can take away the loneliness, they make you feel better on a down day, and make you laugh.
Having a kitten is like a healthy therapy session; they are joy and love, all wrapped up in a fluffy package, and they have the cutest little feet that can massage you ferociously!
What is not to like about that?
Writer: Jean Brewer