A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

Why Do Cats Knead? Cat Owner Questions Answered

By: Kelli Rascoe

Cats are mysterious. Your furry friend may have quirks that are unique to them. In fact, your cat communicates in many different ways, including its behavior. If you’re a new kitten or cat owner you may find yourself asking, “Why do cats knead?” For this reason, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about this popular cat behavior and what your furry friend may be trying to tell you.

A grey cat with yellow eyes looking at the camera

Why do cats knead?

Cats and kittens have a mind of their own. They may do things that you don’t understand. Kneading is just one of those bizarre behaviors. Nold breaks down why a cat may knead.

“Kneading is usually a calming behavior that cats do when they are relaxed. In most cases, kneading is considered normal cat behavior. Scratching and kneading are necessary for claw and pad maintenance. Also, kneading is a form of marking and one of the ways that a cat may communicate.”

Some cats and kittens may like to knead. Your cat may choose not to knead and that’s okay. All furry friends communicate differently and your new kitten may show you they’re relaxed in another way.

When does cat kneading become a behavioral problem?

In most cases, kneading is a form of expression for your cat. Also, it may be another way for your cat to let you know how they feel. However, it may be an indication of something more going on. Nold weighs in on when kneading may become a concern.

“Kneading can vary in intensity. In some cases, it can progress to aggression. If your cat is not causing harm, it may be best to just ignore them. If the behavior seems excessive contact your veterinarian to determine if a behavior consult or medical tests are recommended. Also, this behavior may lead to underlying urinary issues or abdominal pain although your cat may show other signs of illness.”

A grey & black striped cat and a brown cat with big eyes stare at the camera

What age do cats start kneading?

A behavior can start at any time. A cat or kitten may choose to express this behavior whenever they’d like. Naturally, kittens and cats alike may take to kneading as a way to express their happiness, a way to relax or de-stress from their environment.

The benefits of your cat kneading

Your cat or kitten needs the chance to relax in your home. Consider giving your furry friend a place to where they can retreat and rest if they need it. For example, items like cat-friendly furniture and toys may help provide enrichment and de-stress your furry friend. Also, a blanket and a scratch mat may help your pet with their claws and paws. By providing different types of enrichment it may help your pet deal with any environmental stressors they may be feeling.

A pretty striped cats peeks outside his scratching post

Why do cats knead? They may be trying to relax or communicate

Your cat’s quirks and behaviors are unique. Chances are your cat may like to express their happiness and relaxation in many different ways, like kneading. But by notating behavior changes, talking to your veterinarian, and providing enrichment around your home, your best friend can achieve optimum wellness.

To learn more about cat behavior, read When Do Kitten’s Calm Down? Kitten Owner Questions Answered.

A dog and cat snuggle

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Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.

This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

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