You've likely seen cats kneading, at least on the internet if not in your own home. It is when a cat will push out it's paws one after the other in a motion similar to a baker kneading dough. In fact, it looks so similar that many on social media have dubbed it "making biscuits".
But, what's up with cats and kneading?
According to PetMD, kittens start kneading while nursing from their mothers to stimulate milk flow, so it's a behavior that starts very early on in cats.
I have seen some people on social media who seem to think that it's a bad thing if an adult cat is still kneading, but PetMD says that adult cats will knead because they associate it with the comfort of nursing, so I liken it to us hanging on to a favorite childhood toy or watching a favorite childhood show or movie. (It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, anyone?) Kneading in cats is not a bad thing, it's a thing that helps them relax!
So what does it mean when a cat kneads on you? TheVets.com says it probably means they like you. That makes sense to me - if it's something they would do with their mother as a kitten, that sounds like a sign of affection to me!
When my cat is kneading me, I can feel their claws. My cats are most likely to make biscuits on me when on the couch or bed. Of course I have blankets on my bed and I usually have a soft blanket nearby on my couch too, so that I can get some padding in between me and those sharp little daggers! If your cat is kneading on you, you might also want to try to give their claws a trim to keep them from scratching too much!
If your cat is kneading before a nap, theVets.com says it could also be that they are making up the space to get it nice and comfy - just they way they like it before setting down to sleep!
Stretching their muscles is another reason cats might knead. The kneading action gets their joints moving and helps them keep flexible.
This one only applies to the girl cats, but PetsMD says that female cats may lie on their side, purr, stretch and knead the air as a way to flirt with the boys and let them know they might be interested in mating.
Another reason for kneading in cats is that they are marking their territory. When I was looking at cats toebeans a few weeks ago, I discovered that cat paws contain scent glands, so kneading can help them distribute their scent on their favorite things - a blanket, bed, toy or even you! It's quite the compliment from a cat if you are included in their favorite things!
But, don't worry if your cat doesn't knead! Cats are famous for being individuals, so just like us, they all have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. So, If your cat doesn't knead, you probably just have a cat that doesn't knead! That doesn't mean they don't love you, they might just show their affection in other ways, like slow blinks, headbutts or sleeping with you!
Kneading in cats is a natural behavior, and it's darn cute too, so next time your cat is kneading, take some time to enjoy it and maybe even take a video so you can watch back the cuteness later or share it to social media. (Tag us at catswhereitsatcom on instagram if you do - we love a good cat kneading video!)