Needy Cats

Cats that knead may be marking their territory or comforting themselves.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Fri Mar 25 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. I have five lovely cats at home and I want to know why they knead. They all do it. For example, Ginger will jump up on my lap and knead away before she settles down to lay and sleep. Sometimes she will even do the kneading motion while I pet her. At night she loves to sleep on or next to my head, but again before she settles down she loves to knead on my head and hair. The kneading is always accompanied by purring.

A. Maybe your kitties are just needy sorry, couldn't resist. In general, when cats are kneading they are exhibiting a self-comforting behavior and showing signs of relaxation. Sometimes, they will also rub with their head while kneading, leaving behind sebaceous gland secretions that essentially mark their territory. Although we insensitive humans cannot detect these secretions, other cats, with their acute sense of smell certainly can detect that another cat has been there.

While some behaviorists have suggested that cats do this behavior in response to stress, as long as your kitties seem to be happy, well-adjusted and continue to purr during their kneading, then this is just an expression of bliss. Congratulations on having such a harmonious household!

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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

7/28/2012 7:22:52 PM

good article, thanks

Linnea    Seabrook, SC

11/3/2011 9:11:17 PM

I have had cats who knead before going to sleep at night. At present my cat just finds a comfortable place next to me.

ML    Montoursville, PA

2/22/2009 10:02:30 AM

Most of ours Knead and they usually purr at the same time. They always seem to be happy and contented when they do this. Many do this while they are being held by one of us.

crystal    Nashville, TN

2/17/2009 11:52:27 AM

Why do cats cuddle?

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