What Is Cat Kneading and Why Do They Do It?

Cat kneading is a throwback to kitten hood.

Kneading, or the act of a cat rhythmically moving the front feet, flexing first one and then the other, is commonly seen in cats that are feeling relaxed and happy.

What Do People Call Cat Kneading?

There are a lot of words used to describe cat kneading. One of the most common ones is muffin-making. Other terms used include happy paws, making biscuits, playing the piano, or mashing potatoes.

When Do Cats Engage in Kneading Behavior?

Kittens are seen to knead shortly after they're born, to help themselves find their mother's nipples and stimulate milk flow. Many researchers believe that older cats that knead are doing so when they feel relaxed and happy like they did when they were kittens nursing.

Often, cats will knead while resting on their human's lap or if they are lying on a favorite blanket or another item. Many cats purr while they knead, which reinforces the idea that it is usually done when a cat is feeling happy.

How to Protect Yourself from Claws During Kneading Behavior

Some people dislike it when their cats knead on their laps because those sharp claws can find their way through many materials and result in some painful pricks on the legs. However, holding a cat that is kneading and purring is so stress-relieving and sweet, both for the cat and the person, that it's worth it to discover ways to get around this. Here are the two most common techniques people use to protect themselves from their cat's claws during kneading:

  • Using a thick blanket on their lap. We recommend getting a designated "muffin blanket" to act as a lap blanket for you. When you sit down, simply grab it and put it on your lap, and then if your kitty jumps up there and starts kneading, the blanket will protect your legs from her claws.
  • Using Soft Paws®. Covering your cat's claws with Soft Paws vinyl claw caps will also help protect you from any pain if your cat kneads on your lap. The vinyl caps can't poke through your pants, and they cover up the sharp tips of your cat's claws.

Kneading is one of those sweet things that makes a cat a cat, and if your cat kneads on your lap, it shows you that she is feeling safe and comfortable with you.

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