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Superzoo 2023

Aug 16-18, 2023
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV


Many cats have the behavior of kneading on soft surfaces, with both front paws rhythmically when they are in a state of ease. The soft surface can be a blanket or pillow. This kneading action is so closely like a chef kneading dough that many people nickname it “making biscuits” or “kneading dough“. If you are a cat person, a cat owner or often watch cat videos on Youtube or TikTok, you will know that this is a very normal activity for cats.  

Testing the softness of our pet blanket. My cat is enjoying our blanket sample.

What Is Cat Kneading? 

The action of the cat kneading is the same: pressing their front paws slowly in and out at alternating times from an intended object. As a matter of fact, yet, you will find a unique feature inside if you look closely. As the two front paws alternately push, their toes are open with each downward motion. Then cats close toes with paws drawn back. Cats are usually very relaxed when making biscuits unlike their usual habit of observing external changes all the time.

Why Do Cats Knead Soft Objects?

There are many opinions on why cats knead.

But one of the most widely accepted explanations is that it is an inherited instinct from the kitten-hood.

The cat kneading is also called milk treading. Kittens stimulate milk production by kneading the mother’s tummies. Having plenty of food and a soft, warm tummy makes kittens feel cozy and secure. Cats then associate the act of kneading with a sense of happiness and security. This also explains why cats prefer soft objects such as soft blankets, plush toys or pillows for milking.

Not All Cat kneading

If kittens that did not grow up nursing by cat mothers but raised by owners with goat milk, they will most likely not show the kneading behavior when they grow up. Also, some cats will purr when kneading, some are very quiet, and some will dribble or suckle on the fabrics they are kneading. This is because they recall memories of nursing and the expectation of the taste of milk makes them drool. It is as if we then swallow subconsciously after hearing the word lemon.

Nesting for Next Generation

twa cats cling to each other in a nest
wild cats and their nest

Another theory is that cats inherit cat kneading behavior from their wild ancestors. To nurse the next generation, pregnant female cats build nests by pawing at piles of grass or leaves. The nest is a round, cat-sized den that resembles a cave.


There is an extra reason for female cats to knead-oestrus.  At this time, the kneading is clearly different from the past. The increased frequency of kneading, even kneading the air, purring more frequently and with a shrill voice. Always look out the window, or the door, looking for the time to escape out. If you are not prepared to have your cat suffer the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, consult your vet for neutering. Neutering can prevent the cat from escaping and being lost due to heat and help prevent some diseases.

Marking Territory

Cats’ paws produce special scents. Kneading can activate the scent glands on their paw pads to leave a scent on their objects.  Thus, They mark their territory and warn other cats not to approach by kneading on objects.  

What Does It Mean When Cat Kneads on Their Owner?

A cat is kneading the owner's back
A cat is kneading the owner’s back

Compared to soft cat beds and blankets, the human body is not soft at all. Why do cats do the kneading act on us?

Cats knead your legs, stomach and some other parts to show you that they are comfortable and happy around you and to reward you for taking good care of them. It’s a way of telling you that they love you. The happier they are, the harder they will knead you. But since cats will open their claws when kneading, the pressure of their sharp nails digging into you is not a pleasant experience. Your skin may also be scratched as a result. To make your time with your cat more enjoyable, here are some suggestions for you to consider

What Should We Do When Cat Kneads on Us?

1. The cat is unaware that this behavior could hurt you and you should never accuse him of it. This may destroy their trust in you. Don’t yell or spank when your cat is making biscuits either. kneading is a pleasant experience for your cat, and your loud talking will affect your cat’s good mood.

2. Gently pet your cat’s head and neck, which is more like a mother cat licking her kittens, increasing the cat’s affection and trust in you.

3. Trim your cat’s nails in time and buy a cat scratching board for your cat to sharpen its claws

4. Put an extra blanket as a cushion.

Panda blanket from Kiss Pet Baby

5. At home it is best not to wear cherished clothes (that you particularly like) when cats are making biscuits the cat’s nails may scratch your favourite clothes. Or your cat may be too happy and drool. It is better to change into your pajamas. Hopefully, this article will help you solve your doubts about the cat’s kneading behavior and know what to do the next time your cat does it. After all, the High Queen/King is not one to take off the guard at any time.

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