Cats can be curious creatures, especially if you have never had one in your family. Some call them aloof; others insist cats are merely independent. Regardless of breed or personality, most cats have several characteristics in common: They need a lot – at least 16 hours a day – of sleep and they often knead, a simple motion of moving their paws in and out of an object, such as a cat bed.
But, why do cats knead?
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your cat may knead.
Marking her territory
All animals mark their territory in some way. Cats are no different. Your cat, for example, may decide that your favourite chair is now her favourite chair. To mark that chair as her own, she will likely knead it. Kneading it, which results in a release of scent glands, allows her to leave her scent on whatever she is marking.
Showing her love and affection
A cat who curls up on your lap and purrs as you gently pat her head is showing you how happy she is to be with you. And, if she wants to show you how much she loves you, she might just begin to knead you. Does it really hurt when your cat kneads you? If so, that’s not so good for you but it means your feline friend is really happy. In fact, the rule of thumb is generally: the harder a cat kneads, the happier she is.
Preparing for play
Watch your cat as she kneads. Do you notice the stretching motion? Your cat may knead – allowing her muscles to stretch – when she awakes from one of her many naps or she may knead in preparation for a good play session.
Getting ready for bed
Who among us doesn’t like to crawl into a soft bed at the end of a long day? Well, cats are no different. And, if you’re not going to or cannot – due to your cat’s finicky tastes – plump her bed to her satisfaction, she will take the task on herself. Cats will often knead blankets, pillows, and bedding to create a comfortable place to sleep. This behavior, according to experts, is a result of their genetics. Their wild ancestors, too, would knead the grass and ground to provide a soft place for having and for caring for kittens.