Cats Kneading: A Sign of Affection

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, reveals why cats knead.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: March 4, 2011, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: Is it normal for my cat to exercise her paws on my stomach?

JA: Yes. This is a true sign of affection from your kitty. This behavior is known as kneading because the back and forth motion of your cat’s front paws resembles the back and forth motion we use to knead bread.

My calico cat, Ethel, likes to knead on her favorite plush donut-shaped bed. She becomes so relaxed she drops right off to sleep. Meanwhile, Muriel, my gray and white sweetie, considers my stomach her number one spot. When I am in bed and under the covers, she jumps up and starts to knead. I always make sure her nails are trimmed, or this could be quite uncomfortable. She eventually settles down with her paws tucked under her chest (I call this the “muff” position) and dozes off.

Cats tend to knead on soft things like bedding or your stomach. Kittens knead when they are nursing, and it is thought it gives them the same comfort as adults. They purr and very often look completely relaxed, as if in a trance. 

Cats show affection in many ways – like rubbing our ankles or curling up in our laps – but it’s a real sign of love and affection when they knead on you. Enjoy it and your wonderful kitty, but keep her nails trimmed

As always, I welcome your comments and stories.

Jeanne’s Tip of the Week: Read pet food labels carefully. You want the first ingredient to be chicken, beef or fish.

See more articles by Jeanne Adlon>>


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Reader Comments

Judy    Great Barrington, MA

8/23/2012 5:24:47 PM

Actually my cat likes to knead my breast and when she's finally tired and very relaxed she falls asleep on my lap. I love when we have are sessions of kneading and purring that has chirps in it

susan    los angeles, CA

4/21/2012 1:25:59 PM

why do some cats knead and others don'y?

Sandy    Rochester, NY

7/8/2011 2:06:46 PM

My cat likes me to spread my arm on the bed thenshe kneads over it using both front and back paws. Whay does she do this?

MaryAnn    Franklin, GA

3/8/2011 8:41:38 PM

Our kitties love to knead and mostly on us! A few will occasionally knead on a couch cushion if a human is not available. Thats one way the show us love & we love it too!

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