Have you ever seen your cat “walk” at one point and alternately pressing down with its paws while in a deep trance-like state? This is known as “kneading,” and there are several reasons why cats exhibit this seemingly odd behavior. Some cats like to knead on couches, blankets or beds, while others like to knead on their owners. My friend’s cat would climb onto his shoulder and start kneading. He thought it was the cat’s way of giving him a shoulder rub, but then he did some research and found out the real reason why cats knead.
Kneading is essentially like walking in place or crushing grapes with your feet. A cat exhibits this unusual behavior for a variety of reasons. One of the most interesting and compelling explanations for kneading is actually evolutionary. Kittens gently knead their mother’s teats with their paws to encourage milk flow. This action is then associated with the positive, calming, and relaxing outcome of ingestion.
A cat can then enter a deeply relaxed and trance-like state. As the cat gets older, she can knead any soft surface, entering the same “good place” she experienced as a kitten. So you can hear them purring contentedly as you knead. Another explanation is that cats knead to prepare a soft surface on which to eventually settle. It also seems to do them good and exercise their paws. However, if your cat still has sharp claws, the kneading exercise may be painful when performed on your body.
Kneading is therapeutic for cats and they should be left alone while they engage in this behavior. Your cat just wants to relax and unwind, and snuggling on your shoulder or lap makes her feel extra comfortable with you, and that’s always a good thing. There are other reasons for kneading that are just as interesting. Check out some useful resources mentioned below.
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