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Why do cats knead with their paws?

Whether you call it “puddy paws,” “making biscuits,” or simply “kneading,” there’s no mistaking that spreading and folding motion of a cat’s paws that means pure happiness. Have you ever wonder why they do that?

As happy as a kitten

It all begins in the first weeks of life. Small kittens will knead their mother’s belly to encourage her to produce milk. However, it doesn’t simply stop with nursing. Happy kittens will eagerly knead just about anything. It’s not uncommon to see them kneading their siblings, their mother’s neck, or the leg of their human caretakers, too.

Getting ready for a nap

Cats in the wild will sometimes find a soft bed of grass on which to take a nap. They will carefully flatten the grass until it’s dense enough to be comfortable. While we humans aren’t likely to have much grass indoors, you may see your cat kneading a blanket or a cat bed in the same way. If it’s a particularly soft or warm blanket, your cat may even start purring while doing so.

Sharing the group’s scent

There are also scent glands in the pads of a cat’s paw. By kneading blankets, siblings, and even you, your cat is reinforcing the scent that helps your cat feel safe and secure within his or her territory.

Do you have a photo of your cat making “puddy paws?” Share it with us on Instagram!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

Photo by Pitsch on pixabay.

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