Orange kitten lying on back on grey sofa

Why do cats knead? There are several reasons.

That motion of your cat or kitten pushing their paws in and out against your lap, pillow, blanket or other soft surface is called kneading. I have even seen cats knead another resident cat and the resident dog. You may have heard it referred to as “kneading the dough” or “making biscuits”. Not all cats knead and not all cats use their claws. Most of the time your cat is purring contently. But why do cats knead?

Why Do Cats Knead?

Child’s Play

There are a lot of opinions on why cats knead. Kneading is most likely instinctive. If you have ever watched newborn kittens nursing, you have seen them knead their mother’s belly. This action helps stimulate milk flow so that the kittens get nourishment. As kittens get older is most likely continues to be a behavior that provides comfort for the cat.

Let’s Get Comfy

Cats like to sleep on soft surfaces. In the wild cats would knead down leaves and grass before bedding down. Now you might notice your cat kneading a blanket or pillow before bedding down.


Cats are territorial, and kneading may be a way for them to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws and kneading activates those scent glands. This territorial behavior can also be seen when cats scratch surfaces from sofas to tree trunks. Their scent is like a calling card saying, “this is mine”. Next time your cat is kneading you it may mean she is claiming you as hers.

Love and Trust

Cats may knead as a sign of affection. Since kneading is a comforting behavior, next time your cat is kneading while lying in your lap it may be his way of telling you he loves and trusts you.

Kitty Yoga

Kneading could be a way for cats to stretch and flex their paws and legs. After all, being agile is important when you are a cat.

Pure Bliss

Cats purr and knead when they are happy. So next time you see your cat purring and kneading you can know they are happy.

Can You Stop Your Cat From Kneading?

It is never a good idea to punish your cat for any reason and since kneading is an instinctive behavior it will be virtually impossible to stop her from doing it. If your clothes are getting snagged from kitty claws kneading in your lap, make sure your cat’s nails are trimmed regularly. You can also place a towel in your lap.

Do Your Cat’s Knead? Let Us Know