Cat learns how to knead from video

When cats massage an object or a human by pushing their paws alternately, I call it “making biscuits”. Others call it kneading.  Why do they do it? Nobody knows for sure, but LiveScience has a number of explanations (I favor the first two, as the behavior, seen in nursing kittens, appears very early and seems instinctive):

The most oft-repeated explanation states that kneading is a leftover behavior from kittenhood. During nursing, a kitten will knead the area around its mother’s teat to promote the flow of milk.

In adulthood, a cat supposedly will knead when it’s feeling happy or content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mother. Adding further weight to the explanation: Some cats even suckle on the surface they’re kneading.

Another hypothesis proposes that kneading harks back to a time before domestication, when wild cats supposedly patted down foliage to make a soft surface for sleeping or giving birth. The behavior may now be an instinctual part of settling down.

On the other hand, kneading may just be another way for cats to scent and claim an area — cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws.

Regardless, here’s a moggie learning how to do it right from a video.

17 Comments

  1. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Errr, Kan i haz bisquit now?

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I will go with the settling down idea. Emma our female is a good lap cat and every time she jumps on, there is a lot of kneading as you call it. I refer to it as tenderizing. Once finished it is time to lay down and do some serious sleeping.

  3. koseighty
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Connected to the nursing thing?

    My current lord and master, when she wants me to wake the fuck up and feed her already!, kneads furiously on my pillow until I comply.

  4. Posted June 29, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I’d be happier if they did it without spreading their claws.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Yes, there is some pain involved.

  5. Merilee
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t buy that the kitty learns from the video…
    One of my (male)cats in the past drooled while he kneaded. My bf calls it “smurgling”, derivation unknown, but sounds appropriate

  6. Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    My cat Lucy wouldn’t go to sleep without nestling in my outstretched arm and kneading it while suckling at it purring so loud I couldn’t sleep. She’d eventually nod off. I always thought perhaps she’d been weaned too early.

    • busterggi
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      One of my triplets, Blink, did the same thing only she wasn’t choosey about here. She still kneads, almost all mine do, but she doesn’t suckle any more.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I actually have a d*g that exhibits this behavior. He’s 5 and has been doing it ever since I can remember. I bet it also harkens back to puppyhood.

  8. rickflick
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s a clear case of neoteny. We select cats(just like dogs(wolves)), when we breed them(artificial selection), for kitten-like behaviors(so cute). Much better than adult attitudes(wild) which can be aggressive making them unfit for their environment( the sofa).

  9. James Walker
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    My late cat, even into his old age, would only do this with an afghan (knitted blanket) that my grandmother had made. He would take it in his teeth and start kneading and purring with a faroff look in his eyes. He was generally a pretty easy-going cat (he had immense patience with my nieces when they were toddlers) but if you tried to disturb him while he was doing this he would hiss and bite. I asked a vet about this once and she said it was a sign he was probably weaned from his mother too early.

    • Merilee
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they do get a far-away look in their eyes🐾🐾

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      My cat Winston is only set-off by certain items; most especially a woolen blanket I frequently snuggle under on the couch. Other blankets, throws, comforters, etc., leave him cold.

      Perhaps someone could study this phenomenon for their thesis.

      (That was a joke, Merilee.)

      😀

      • Merilee
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the heads-up, Diane, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if someone somewhere in po-mo kitteh studies wrote a paper on it🙀
        Booker T definitely has his faves among the “kneadables.” A throw blanket I’m very slowly knitting for my daughter is going to be half cat hair by the time I finish it…

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 3, 2017 at 12:42 am | Permalink

          Aww. 🙂

          (Actually, I’d find data on cat kneading preferences quite interesting; no po mo needed.)


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