Why Do Cats Knead?

Cat Center
close up of cat paws kneading yellow blanket

There may be no sweeter sight than that of a kitty kneading. All is right with the world when your kitty is “baking biscuits” or “playing the piano,” because you can see the contentment in their eyes and hear their purr at top volume. It’s obvious that a kneading cat is happy, but what makes them have happy paws?

Why Do Cats “Make Biscuits?”

The soft flexing motion a cat makes when they’re happy, sometimes called “making biscuits” is an expression of joy and comfort. But the innate reason they do it is very sweet.

When a newborn kitten nurses, they make this repeated motion against the mother to help express the milk. While your adult cat is kneading, they’re feeling that similar sense of comfort and security, and make the motion reflexively.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Kneads You?

Cats have scent glands in their paws, and it’s thought that when a cat is kneading their special person, they’re leaving their mark to let other animals know they were there. If your cat is kneading you, or rubbing their cheek on you, it’s likely they’re marking you as their friend and showing you affection.

Why Does My Cat Knead Me but Not Others?

Cats can be picky about a number of things, and topping that list is scents. If both you and another person are equally doting on your cat, but only one person is blessed with biscuit making, it’s possible that your cat prefers a smell that they associate only with you.

Why Do Cats Knead (And Bite) Blankets?

For the same reason that cats knead their chosen person, cats may knead a favorite blanket or bedding to claim it as their own. They might feel comforted in the warm snuggly spot, and knead out of instinct, but it’s likely they’re calling dibs on that special spot too.

Blanket kneading may also be accompanied by licking the blanket or even biting it. This is normal instinctive behavior, stemming from kittenhood. There’s nothing to be worried about, so long as your toes aren’t on the other side.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Knead?

Don’t worry if your cat is not much of a biscuit baker. Not all cats express their comfort this way. If your cat follows you, rubs their head on you, looks at you with a slow blink, or approaches you with a soft, curled tail, then you can relax in knowing they love you. They’re just not the “kneady” kind.

But, if you’d like to encourage your cat to start a batch of biscuits, try offering them different fabrics to snuggle on. Fleecy, shearling material seems to be a favorite of many cats and might stir up the primal movement.

If you’ve got a cat who loves to make biscuits or flash their toe beans in happy paw fashion, count yourself lucky and rest assured they’re quite content with their world.