Why Do Cats Like to Make Biscuits? – Everything about Cat Kneading

If you’ve watched your cat kneading, or should I say, ‘making biscuits’ or ‘kneading dough’, then I’m sure you’ve wondered why they do that. Before we start discussing the possible theories, the most important thing to know is that it’s always a good sign.

But however adorable it may be, what is cat kneading and why do they do it? Here is everything you need to know about this adorable kitty habit:

Honey the white and silver shaded raggamuffin loved by Destin kneading

What Is Cat Kneading?

You’ve all seen it; you’ve all felt it. Kneading is when a cat pushes in and out its front paws on various objects like blankets or pillows, on other animals, or on humans. The kneading usually alternates between the left and right paw, and it is accompanied by purring.

When a cat kneads, it is expressing a sense of calm and trust. Cats knead on objects or people they like, trust, and feel comfortable around, so it is always a compliment.

Even when their claws sting you while they make biscuits on your legs or belly, remember that your cat is showing you a great deal of affection.

Why Do Cats Knead – 7 Main Theories

flame point Ragdoll Roo kneading
Sierra writes, “This is a photo of my flame point Ragdoll, Roo, kneading with his giant murder mittens. He was separated from his mother too early (five weeks), so he still kneads and suckle even though he’s two years old.”

A definitive reason for cats kneading has yet to be found, but there are seven possible theories that could explain this odd feline behavior. Each of them describes a source for kneading and sheds a little bit more light on the matter.

1. Instinctive Behavior from Kittenhood

Kitten lying on a towel
Floppycats.com Charlie

The most common theory is that kneading is neotenic behavior, which means a juvenile trait that is maintained in adulthood. Kittens knead on their mothers’ bellies to stimulate their mother’s milk production.

The process of feeding is an extremely positive experience for them because it stops the feeling of hunger, it welcomes the pleasure of drinking the delicious milk, and it also keeps them close to their mothers, which is something they crave at that age.

The cumulated effect of all of these things makes kittens very happy and during all of this time, they knead. This is how they get to associate this behavior with positive feelings, and, therefore, begin doing it when they are comfortable, when they feel safe, and when they want to show affection.

An argument for this theory is the fact that cats also suckle the objects they are kneading on. This proves that there is a direct link between the feeding pattern observed in kittens and the kneading process observed in both kittens and adult cats.

Take a look at this video to see our lovely Ragdoll Charlie demonstrating cat kneading at its finest.

3. While Settling Down

The third explanation for why cats knead when they’re sleeping is that it’s an instinctive behavior passed down through generations. Wild cats would settle down by patting down the foliage and grass to create a soft space, especially for giving birth.

Why Do Cats Knead 61288650821__E4047489-D41C-4315-B0D2-74D07CF7E33D

This theory also shows that it is a behavior that cats display when they feel comfortable in a certain place or around a certain object. Since wild cats had no regular contact with humans, it is unknown whether they would have extended this type of behavior to them.

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4. Mating

Female cats in particular have another reason why they knead. If a female cat is resting on its side, purring while stretching and kneading the air, it’s a way for them to signal to male cats that they’re available for mating.

But if they are ready to mate right away, they won’t knead their paws. Instead, they will raise their pelvis and move their tail to one side.

5. For Comfort

Another possible theory is that cats knead for comfort, and to soothe themselves. Although adult cats do not require nursing, it is likely that kneading is related to a sense of comfort.

It’s possible that they remember the good feeling from when they were little kittens, even after they stopped nursing.

Mari Clementine - Ragdoll Kitten of the Month 5

6. Stretching

Cats have the same periodic urge for a good stretch as we humans do. Cats knead by stretching their arms.

The motion of kneading, in which the cat alternately extends and retracts its limbs, may serve as a feline equivalent of ‘stretching its legs’ to awaken its muscles and increase blood flow.

7. Showing Appreciation

You may have noticed your cat kneading on you in particular and wondered what that meant. I’ve written a whole post on why your cat might be kneading you for a more in-depth look at that, but cats knead to show their appreciation.

Just in the way a dog licks their owner when they like them, cats show their love in their own sweet way and it comes in the form of kneading.

Cuddling with Cuddles

So, if you’ve noticed your cat kneading on your lap, take it as a compliment! It means they are comfortable around you and are showing their affection towards you.

What Does Kneading Mean?

What all the seven theories presented above have in common is the purpose of kneading and how it can be interpreted.

Whether it is neotenic behavior, a pattern inherited from their ancestors, or a way to mark their territory, etc, kneading is a manifestation of positive behavior.

Your cat is trying to tell you that it trusts you, that it is comfortable being around you, and that it has a great deal of affection for you. Pet your cat as it is kneading to extend the delight even further and enjoy the moment along with your kitty!

Can There Be Too Much Kneading?

Kneading is positive behavior, absolutely, but if your cat is kneading more than usual, you may want to keep an eye out on what is happening to her.

A common situation is for cats to make biscuits on their masters, even excessively, if they have been alone all day.

If this is the case, your cat may be telling you that it is extremely happy that you are finally back and what you can do is to show her that you are just as happy to be there with her. This calls for more quality time for you and your cat because it might be feeling neglected.

Can Cats Be Trained Not to Knead?

Some cat owners do not take kneading as a compliment because it feels like pins and needles when their cats make biscuits on them. And so, they usually want to train their cats not to do this anymore.

Training a cat not to knead on them is certainly possible, but is it really the right choice?

Kneading is an excellent bonding moment between cats and their masters, and it would be a pity to miss out on it. Trimming down the cat’s nails should make the experience pain-free, and it promises to bring a lot of joy to both you and your cat.

As you can see, when your cat makes biscuits on you, it is communicating with you. Next time it happens, take it all in and enjoy this amazing experience with your kitty!

How to Stop Your Cat from Kneading

Kneading may appear to be an endearing action, but if your cat has her claws extended when kneading, it can be quite unpleasant.

She might also accidentally rip up blankets and furniture. To encourage proper kneading behavior, try the following suggestions:

  • Keep the claws on your cat short to avoid sharp hooks.
  • Redirect her focus by offering her treats or a toy. You may quickly and simply retrain her to do something else besides kneading, like sit or chase a toy.
  • If your cat kneads with her claws, you may want to put a thick blanket on your lap to protect yourself and to show your cat that she should only knead on that blanket. If that’s not possible, set her down gently and distract her with a snack or toy.
  • Never discipline your cat for kneading. If she is punished for her normal, intuitive behavior, she will most likely react adversely and angrily. Instead, use redirection and diversion strategies to maintain your cat’s trust.

FAQs on Cat Kneading

Why Do Cats Knead and Bite Blankets?

The reason behind this is very complex. On one hand, the act of kneading a blanket means that the cat is preparing its space for sleeping or sitting. The preparation may be connected to its wild ancestors’ instincts of settling down and making a space softer to lay on.

On the other hand, when the kneading is associated with biting, then it points to reminiscing the pleasant memories of when it was a kitten, drinking milk from its mother’s teat.

The biting could also mean playtime or/and breeding instincts are kicking in.

Why Do Cats Knead and Lick their Blankets?

This behavioral pattern is also linked to reminiscing the enjoyable memories from kittenhood. When they feed, kittens knead and lick their mother’s teats to stimulate milk production.

Then, as adult cats, they will reproduce this leftover behavior when they feel very comfortable. You could see your cat kneading and licking its:

1. Favorite blanket and plush toy.
2. Favorite spot on the couch.
3. Even your leg.

It is a good sign, and it means that the cat feels safe and extremely comfortable. It is a sign of affection.

Why Do Cats Knead Before Lying Down?

Cats knead before lying down to create a comfortable place for them to sleep or simply lay on. They will do this in places that they like, such as:

1. Quilts
2. Pillows
3. Cat beds
4. Etc.

As explained above, this is connected to an instinctive trait of settling down to:

1. Lay down to sleep or give birth, but also
2. Kitten behavior – to massage their mother’s belly and stimulate the flow of milk.

They usually purr while kneading the place where they are about to lie down. They also might start drooling, too. Here’s a post we have if you want to read more about cats drooling.

Why Do Cats Knead Each Other?

Cats knead each other when they have a good relationship between them. For instance, if you have two cats in your home and enjoy each other’s company, they might display this by kneading on each other.

This is what you are aiming for in a household with two cats.

Why Do Cats Knead Soft Objects?

Have you ever noticed that cats usually like to knead on soft surfaces such as quilts? Well, that’s not without reason! Newborn kitties can start kneading as early as when they are feeding on their mother’s milk

This kneading motion helps stimulate the production of milk in female cats (mothers). But as cats continue to age, they continue to knead even though they are past the nursing age. You can find your cat kneading a lot of soft objects/surfaces such as:

1. Bed covers
2. Pillows
3. Doormats
4. Stuffed animals
5. And so on.

Even though the kneading motion doesn’t provide the cats with milk, they associate the kneading motion with the comfort of their mother and mother’s milk. You can think of it as more of a psychological association, and cats tend to show this behavior when they are happy and content.

So, one of the possible reasons for cats to knead soft objects, is that the softness resembles the softness of their mother’s teat and body.

Why Do Cats Knead Blankets Before Lying Down?

Cats love soft objects when it comes to kneading, and blankets happen to be soft and easily accessible. So, if you are worried about your covers getting damaged from your cat’s claws, you can teach it different habits.

A good approach would be to present them with a different object to knead on, such as toys.

Why Does My Cat Only Knead Me?

Because your cat loves you and you should feel proud and happy. If it only kneads on you, it means that it has formed a special bond with you.

Why Does My Cat Knead Before Sleeping?

As mentioned earlier, kneading is a way for cats to convey security signs and allow them to feel comfortable and soothed. So before sleeping, your cat can knead to feel comfortable and soothed so that they can fall asleep easily.

Your cat’s kneading is a normal feline activity, and one of the many ways we celebrate and bond with these unique, mysterious creatures.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Valerie Molina says:

    I have a question. I feel like a bad cat mom for telling all of my Sebastian’s business lol. My cat will begin to knead and it quickly turns into something else. It can be soft blanket but mostly
    It’s stuffed animals. He begins to hump it. Full blown cover your eyes going for it. In order to keep the kids stuffed animals safe I try to hide them. If I pull it away from him while he’s on it he bites at it and will try and tug it away. My cat is neutered and is 2 years old. He is the only cat in the house. Is this normal? Thanks for any insight.

    1. I know of other cats that do this – I can ask on our Facebook group, if you want? I am not sure it’s normal – but it’s not abnormal.

      “In order to keep the kids stuffed animals safe I try to hide them.” – this made me LOL!

    2. Alison McDonald says:

      I had to laugh out loud when I read this as my cat Sherlock is exactly the same! He closes his eyes when he makes biscuits with me and then leaves to mount Watson I do take him off and he has now been neutered but I do feel that our affectionate time is somehow encouraging the behaviour to the detriment of my other kitten! He was 5 months old when this started (6 now).

  2. SUPER PAWESOME AND FABULOUS POST, Jenny honey! Such a great topic! TYSVM for all the wonderful info! Very well done! Enjoyed it sooo very much! We ADORE it when Miss PSB makes her biscuits! They are delicious & soooo satisfying in every way!

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle

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