Kneading Behavior: Why Do Cats Make Biscuits and What It Means

Cats are fascinating creatures with a myriad of behaviors that often leave us puzzled. One of the endearing and somewhat perplexing behaviors is their tendency to knead, often referred to as “making biscuits.” If you’ve ever wondered why your furry friend engages in this rhythmic motion, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of kneading behavior in cats, exploring its origins, significance, and the emotions it conveys.

The Kneading Behavior Explained

When you think of cats kneading, imagine them rhythmically pushing their paws in and out against a soft surface, much like a baker kneading dough. This behavior is commonly seen in kittens nursing from their mother’s belly. But why do adult cats continue to exhibit this behavior? Cats engage in kneading for various reasons, and it’s often tied to a mix of instinct, emotions, and communication.

Theories Behind the Behavior

  1. Instinctual Behavior from Kittenhood: When kittens nurse, they instinctively knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow. This behavior is rooted in survival, ensuring they get their vital nourishment. As cats grow, this instinct often carries over to other situations, even in the absence of nursing.
  2. Marking Territory and Scent Distribution: Cats have scent glands located in their paws, and kneading serves as a way to distribute their scent. This behavior marks their territory and communicates their presence to other cats. It’s a subtle yet effective way for cats to establish ownership.

Emotional and Psychological Aspects

  1. Comfort and Relaxation: Kneading is an expression of comfort and relaxation for cats. This rhythmic motion harks back to their kitten days when they felt safe and content nursing with their mother. Many cats continue this behavior into adulthood, especially during moments of relaxation.
  2. Nostalgia and Bonding: Beyond comfort, kneading can be tied to feelings of nostalgia and bonding. Cats might associate this action with the warmth and care received during kittenhood. When a cat kneads its owner, it’s a sign of trust and a way to strengthen the emotional connection.

Communicative Behavior

  1. Non-Verbal Communication: Cats are known for their subtle non-verbal cues, and kneading is one such form of communication. Cats may knead to signal contentment, relaxation, or even excitement. Observing the context and accompanying behaviors can help decipher the message.
  2. Social Interactions: Kneading isn’t limited to interactions with humans; cats also knead other cats and objects. When a cat kneads another cat, it can be a sign of camaraderie and shared comfort. Kneading inanimate objects might be a way for cats to replicate the soothing feeling they get from kneading soft surfaces.

Medical Considerations

While kneading is generally harmless and even adorable, there are situations where it might raise concerns:

  1. Excessive Kneading: If your cat is kneading excessively to the point of injuring themselves or causing discomfort, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. Excessive kneading might indicate an underlying medical issue or stress.
  2. Health Issues: While kneading itself is a natural behavior, changes in kneading patterns or sudden changes in behavior can be indicative of health problems. Always be observant and reach out to a professional if you notice anything unusual.


Enchanting world of cats, kneading stands as a multifaceted behavior that intertwines instinct, emotion, and communication. Understanding why cats make biscuits allows us to forge a stronger bond with our feline companions and decode the subtle messages they convey. So, the next time your cat kneads your lap or a cozy blanket, remember that they’re sharing their comfort, nostalgia, and affection in their unique, paw-stamping way.

Additional Resources


What does it mean when cats make biscuits?

Cats making biscuits, or kneading, is a sign of comfort and contentment. It harkens back to kittenhood when they kneaded their mother’s belly for milk. It’s a soothing behavior that reflects their sense of security.

Why do cats make biscuits on blankets?

Cats make biscuits on blankets (or other soft surfaces) due to their instinctual behavior from kittenhood. It’s a comforting action tied to feelings of relaxation and security. The soft texture of blankets may trigger this behavior.

Should I stop my cat from making biscuits?

Generally, there’s no need to stop your cat from making biscuits. It’s a natural and often comforting behavior. However, if excessive kneading causes discomfort or injury, or if there’s a sudden change in behavior, consulting a veterinarian is recommended.

Leave a Comment