Why I Need to Knead
Have you ever made bread from scratch, or watched someone kneading pizza dough? Cats do virtually the same thing with their front paws. They shift their weight back and forth, spread the toes of the paw they’re about to lean on, and dig their claws into the surface they’re kneading – whether it’s your lap (ouch!), your leather couch, or their favorite blanket. They are usually purring while doing this with a steady, rhythmic motion.
Now when I’m kneading, my mind has gone back in time to when I was a newborn, nursing on mom. To help get the milk flowing, I used to push on her tummy – first with one paw and then the other. Mom was purring, I was getting fed, and life couldn’t be better. I felt safe, loved and contented.
I’ve also noticed that cats knead to mark their territory. Kitties have scent glands in the soft pads on the bottom of their paws. When they knead, their unique scent is released onto the surface being kneaded. So if I am kneading your lap, instead of shoving me off or smacking me, you should be highly complimented. It means I like hanging out with you, and I’m claiming you as my own.
I usually revert back to that old habit of kneading when things are going well and I’m feeling especially happy. By contrast, Keyla – the dog who lives in my house – has a whole different idea about kneading. She kneads her favorite stuffed animal, a dog about twice her own size, to comfort herself when our owners leave the house or she gets upset. I really need to have a talk with her.
To enjoy a cool video of a cat kneading on a sleeping dog, click HERE.