Why Do Cats Knead?

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Cats begin kneading as young kittens, before their eyes even open, as kneading comes instinctively.

Kittens quickly learn, by kneading, that the pressure from this encourages milk flow which allows them to eat. Of course, that doesn’t exactly explain why cats continue to knead into adulthood.

Kneading in Adult Cats

Adult cats will not get anything to eat out of kneading items around the house such as blankets and pillows. So why do adult cats often knead?

One of the main reasons for kneading is comfort. Cats remember kneading as a kitten and the comfort and security kneading brought to them as young kittens. Kneading as an adult cat can bring those comforting memories and security back
When cats knead, you may also notice them purring. This tells us kneading brings a sense of well-being, relaxation, and happiness. 

There is no way to know if your cat will knead forever, but the likelihood is extremely high. Since this behavior is instinctive, it is commonly carried on throughout your cat’s life and senior years.

Kneading and Marking Territory 

Have you ever noticed your cat kneading the area he or she is about to lie down on?

This kneading action is common as your cat is making their bed prior to laying down. Cat's do this to make the area they have chosen to sleep as comfortable as possible.

At the same time, your cat is also marking its territory using scent glands in the paws. Other animals that come around these spaces have the ability to detect this scent.

Relaxing with Your Kneading Cat

If you notice your cat kneading you, it's common that he or she is telling you that they love you. When your cat kneads on you, he or she is leaving the scent from the glands of their paws on you to let everyone else know you are hers and only hers.

Of course, the kneading isn’t always the most comfortable act for us as our cats can have nails that can dig through our skin (and tear up other household items like clothing). 

If your kitty doesn’t put his or her claws away while kneading, remember not to panic or punish them. Simply place a thick sweater, blanket, or towel on yourself when holding your cat so the kneading can continue if you would like your cat to continue to bond and relax with you.

Consider Investing in Cat Insurance  

Looking for more ways to protect your kitty?  Consider investing in a cat insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Our cat insurance policies can provide the coverage and care your kitties deserve.  Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.