Why Doesn't My Cat Knead? - (5 Reasons Explained) (2023)

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Cats are famous for kneading. Or maybe you call itmaking muffins, preparing biscuits, showing off their happy paws, playing the piano, mashing the taters, or any of the other names for this cute cat behavior!

The fact that we have so many names to describe something so simple shows just how much humans love this cute cat behavior.

But what if you’re left out of the mashed potato and biscuit-making games and your cat just doesn’t knead?

Why would a cat not knead?For some cats, kneading just isn’t their style and they choose to express themselves in other ways. This is even more likely if your cat had an unusual kittenhood but in other cases, cats just may not have found the right material to knead.

There’s also the chance that if your cat is still new to the home, then they might not feel comfortable enough to start making biscuits. While rarer, some cats choose not to knead because it’s painful. This is most common in the case of declawed cats but can be caused by other injuries, too.

We’re going to take a closer look at each of these 5 explanations and we’ll cover how you can encourage your cat to start kneading.But first, we need to briefly cover why cats knead in the first place. After all, before we can understand why a catdoesn’tdo something we first need to understand why they take on the behavior in the first place.

Let’s get started!

Why Do Cats Knead?

Kneading begins very early in kittenhood. In fact, before cats have even opened their eyes, they’re already kneading while they nurse in order to help stimulate the release of more milk.

That also means that kneading is one of the first behaviors that’s positively reinforced in our cats. For a newborn kitten, having a hearty serving of milk is about as good as it gets and they quickly learn that more kneading means more milk. That means kneading is connected to positive sensations before our cats can even see the world around them!

Okay, so kneading starts as a practical instinct and evolutionary behavior for our kittens…but why do they keep this up well into adulthood?

Comfort and Happiness

One major explanation why cats continue to knead is because it’s comforting, calming, and something they association with happiness. This makes sense when we consider the times that cats most often knead which are typically when they’re feeling cozy and comfortable.

For many cats petting often leads to kneading but others may knead every time they interact with any kind of soft material. This also makes sense when you consider that a kitten would instinctively knead on their mom’s soft and mushy milk glands.

It’s possible that kneading gives cats a bit of nostalgia as it reminds them of nursing on their mother. It’s also possible that cats simply knead when they’re happy because that’s what they did as kittens. You can consider it the feline version of a “happy dance” and a sort of cousin to purring. When cats are happy, they may want to double down on it by kneading!

Nesting Behavior

Other cats may knead as part of creating the perfect spot for a nap. In the wild, cats will paw and knead at leaves, grass, and other natural bedding before they lay down. As kittens, our cats would have seen their mother do the same thing as she prepared the perfect area for her kittens to rest.

We all know that cats can be very particular about finding the perfect napping location and kneading may just be part of their process. Some cats also seem to get a bit carried away and what might start as getting ready for a nap may just turn into a biscuit-making binge as they enjoy the comfort of kneading.

In other cases, cats will still knead a potential bed even if it’s not a material that can actually be kneaded. This is similar to the way that cats will scratch around their food bowl to cover it up even if their food is on a tile floor. In other words, this behavior is sometimes based on instinct and not logic so even if your cat isn’t actually changing the material they’re about to lay on, they may still be compelled to knead.

Marking Their Territory

Cats are naturally territorial creatures and in the wild they would control large areas of land. They’d use a variety of techniques to mark off their turf and let other cats know what belonged to them…and what didn’t.

Scent is one of the most important tools for establishing territory and while cats have several methods for leaving their scent in the right places, they also have special scent glands in their paws that they use to mark their territory. Cats will most often scratch to place their scent, which is one of the many reasons why even declawed cats still need to scratch, but some cats may also knead as a way to deposit their scent.

There Probably Isn’t Just One Reason

All these reasons work together to reinforce the kneading behavior. In other words, it’s difficult to point to justone explanation and say that’s definitively why a cat is kneading. For example, a cat might start kneading a blanket to place their scent on it and prepare the area for a nap. They might find the entire process comforting and relaxing and continue kneading long after the bed is “made” and the scent is placed.

In that example, all three motivations for kneading are happening at one time!

Why Some Cats Don’tKnead?

While the need to mark their territory, seek comfort, or show happiness are important and even essential cat behaviors, kneading is not the only way for cats to act on these instincts.

That means that just because a cat doesn’t knead it doesn’t also mean that they aren’t happy, comfortable, or eager to mark their turf. Instead, it just means that they’ve chosen other ways to do these things.

So the real question is why would cats choose not to knead? Let’s look at a few of the most likely explanations.

Reason 1: Your Cat Had An Unusual Kittenhood

We know that cats knead very early in kittenhood…but what if your cat had an unusual kittenhood?

This can certainly change how cats knead but it’s difficult to pin down exactly how as different cats will have different reactions. Kittens without moms will still knead but they might not make the same types of associations or find it as comforting as cats with a mom.

However, and this where things get confusing, the opposite is also true. Kittens that were separated from their mom too early may actually knead more! The idea here is that these kittens didn’t get to go through the natural growth and development process with support from their mother so instead of reducing the habit as they got older, they just kept kneading.

My cat Debbie was brought into a shelter when she was only 2 weeks old and I bottle-fed her through her entire kittenhood. She also went a little knead-crazy up until she was months old or so and would knead on everything! I’ve also seen the opposite reaction where a bottle-fed kitten never kept up with the kneading and didn’t continue it into adulthood.

So while I can’t say for sure which direction your cat will go, if they had an unusual kittenhood, there’s a chance you can expect some unusual kneading habits too.

Reason 2: They’re A Little Nervous Still

While this applies most to cats that are newer to your home, it can still take some time for cats to feel comfortable enough to knead. Remember, we mentioned that some cats knead as a reaction to comfort, security, and safety. Cats that are still learning about their new home, and the people and pets in it, may need a little extra time before they start making biscuits.

So if your cat is still new to the home, give it more time! Your feline friend just might not feel completely comfortable yet!

Reason 3: Your Cat Hasn’t Found The Right Spot…Yet!

For many cats, kneading is closely associated with a specific material. They need something soft, warm, and a little mushy to really start making biscuits since that’s similar to their mom’s mammary glands.

Sadly, my cat seems to be sending me a message that my stomach is just mushy enough to remind her of a mom cat!

But tummies aside, some cats that aren’t kneading just might not have found the right material for them to work with yet. In other words, they’re biscuit makers without the right dough. I’vefound that the majority of cats can’t resist a soft fleece blanket and I picked up a budget-friendly one on Amazon which you can see here. I’m certainly not the only person who’s discovered this and the internet is full of fleece-loving kitties just kneading away.

I will occasionally walk into my room and see my cat kneading on this fleece with nothing else going on. She was apparently just so compelled by the soft material that she wanted to do some kneading!

Reason 4: It’s Just Not Your Cat’s Style

While it’s not the most scientific explanation, for some cats kneading just might not be their thing.

Our cats have preferences and dislikes just any other creature and while there’s a mountain of evidence why cats might like to knead, some cats just might prefer to express themselves in other ways.

For example, cats could mark their territory by scratching instead of kneading. They could express their comfort and contentment with a purr (which is also deeply tied to their kittenhood) instead of kneading. They might also find their bedding to be perfectly comfortable without any prep work.

In other words, kneading isn’t arequiredbehavior for our adult cats and just as we have our own preferences, your cat just might not be a kneader.

Reason 5: It May Be Uncomfortable To Knead

In some cases, it may actually be uncomfortable for cats to knead.

The most common reason?

Declaw surgery. As if there wasn’t already plenty of good reasons tonot declaw our cats, we’ve now got another one. Declawing removes a lot more than just the claws and the process actually removes the entire tip of the digit, equivalent to chopping off the last part of our finger. Ouch. Not only is the actual process painful, but it can lead to lifelong arthritis and as a result, some declawed cats may actually find the process of kneading uncomfortable or downright painful.

Other cats may be suffering from arthritis and decide to skip the kneading due to discomfort. While arthritis is most commonly associated with older cats, even young cats with a past injury can suffer from arthritis.

Should I Worry That My Cats Isn’t Kneading?

In the vast majority of cases, there’s nothing to worry about when a cat isn’t kneading. However, if your cat has been declawed or you suspect they may be suffering from arthritis, thenit’s worth a conversation with your veterinarian to make sure they’re not experiencing a great deal of pain or discomfort.

Barring that, not kneading isn’t an issue and usually just a preference for some cats. But, if your cat has been kneading for years and suddenly stopped, there may be more to the behavior change and it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian in that scenario as well.

If My Cat Doesn’t Knead, Does That Mean They Don’t Love Me?

Not at all!

Remember, kneading is far from arequired behavior for cats! Your cat has several options for showing their happiness and marking their turf and for some felines kneading just isn’t part of their toolkit.

Don’t focus too much kneading and instead look at the overall picture of your cat’s body language. If your feline friend appears, comfortable, loose, and is seeking your attention then you’ve got a happy cat- even if they aren’t kneading!

How To Get Your Cat To Knead

Encouraging your cat to start kneading can be a little tricky. It’s such a specific and distinctly feline behavior that it can be difficult to make it happen in the first place. It’s also going to depend on the reason why your cat isn’t kneading and if it’s not your cat’s style then it’s just not their style!

However, the best method for turning your serious kitty into a biscuit-making fool is just a nice fleece blanket. If you don’t have a blanket at home, you can substitute a jacket or really anything fleece- at least to get your kitty started. If you’re totally fleece-free then you can pick up this budget-friendly fleece blanket in just about any color you want from Amazon.

Then you’ll want to spread the fleece out somewhere soft and start giving your kitty some love! Make sure that the surface below the blanket is soft and comfortable and consider balling up the fleece just a bit to add some thickness to it.

You want to try and mimic the feel of a momma cat: soft, furry and warm! And while there are usually severalcomfortable and soft things throughout the house, most cats seem to prefer fleece above all else when it comes to kneading.

Check out this little baker of a kitty and his fleece blanket:

Closing Thoughts

There’s really no doubt about it…kneading is cute!

But not all cats are dedicated biscuit makers and while that can be a bit disappointing it’s usually nothing to worry about.Unless your cat is avoiding kneading because they’re too stressed or uncomfortable due to a past injury or declaw surgery. Simply put, some cats just aren’t the biscuit-making kind.

However, it’s also possible that your little biscuit maker just hasn’t found the right dough to work with if you know what I mean!

In that case, a nice fleece blanket, jacket, or any kind of fleece material could fire up the kneading instinct in your otherwise reluctant feline.

I’d love to hear how the fleece trick worked with your reluctant kneader- did you get your cat to start making biscuits?


Why Doesn't My Cat Knead? - (5 Reasons Explained)? ›

If your cat doesn't knead on you, it doesn't mean your cat loves you any less or isn't happy. It simply means that your cat prefers other ways to communicate happiness or love. Just like humans have different ways of communicating, so too do cats.

Why doesn't my cat knead her paws? ›

Kneading seems to be more common in some cats than others. If your cat doesn't knead, it could mean he is a little stressed – or it could just be that your cat doesn't display relaxation or affection in that manner. But many cats do continue kneading into adulthood.

What triggers a cat to knead? ›

Kneading to convey comfort — Happy cats appear to knead to show pleasure. Cats often knead while being petted, or when snuggling into a napping spot. Your cat may also knead on your lap to show her love and contentment, and then settle in for a pat or nap. A stressed cat may knead to create a soothing, calm mood.

Do sick cats knead? ›

Pet parents typically know when something is off with their pet, but it is tricky to determine illness just because your cat is constantly kneading to comfort themselves. However, it can be one of several signs that your cat could be sick, but most of the time, this is not the reason for kneading.

Do all cats make biscuits? ›

Not all cats knead, and some do so infrequently. But most cats will exhibit this behavior from time to time.

Why can't my cat knead? ›

If your kitty doesn't knead, make sure there's no stress in their lives keeping them from relaxing. A cat who's not comfortable or relaxed is less likely to purr around making biscuits. If your feline friend's happy as can be and still doesn't make biscuits? Well.

Do all cats knead their paws? ›

While not all cats knead, it's a common behavior for young and adult felines alike. Some cats knead and purr contentedly when they're being petted, but they may also seem to do it for no clear reason. Cats even have their own techniques—some never use their claws when they knead, and some use all four paws.

Do cats knead everyone? ›

Not all cats knead. Some cats use their claws, and others don't. Some cats knead their humans, and some stick to softer surfaces like blankets or the carpet. It all depends on your furry loaf.

Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›

PetMD also points out that cats are territorial creatures. They claim their turf by marking it with their scent. So when they sleep on top of you, they're actually marking you—and your bed—as theirs. We should be flattered by this behavior, apparently.

What is obsessive kneading in cats? ›

Cats knead when they're comfortable and to show happiness. If you have a cuddly cat, you may notice they knead when you show them affection. They may also purr to tell you how happy they are.

What is cat smurgling? ›

The definition of smurgle – as defined by the Urban Dictionary is: “A singularly feline display of affection. The kneading, purring, nuzzling, salivating that accompanies feline affection.”

Should you let your cat lick you? ›

Cats carry bacteria in their mouths, which can lead to local or systemic infection if a cat licks an open wound. Immunocompromised people are most at risk. Acquiring a disease from your cat is very rare, but to be safe, don't let your cat lick your face or any cuts on your skin.

Are cats sad when they knead? ›

Cats knead when they feel comfortable and content. Usually, this occurs in the presence of their special human. Some cat owners feel uncomfortable when their cat kneads directly on their body. Simply redirecting them to an adjacent but equally soft surface can make all the difference.

How can I tell if my cat loves me? ›

9 signs your cat loves you
  1. Your kitty purrs around you. ...
  2. They sit on you. ...
  3. You've seen the 'slow blink' ...
  4. You have a sleeping buddy. ...
  5. They bring you gifts. ...
  6. Head bumping happens. ...
  7. You're being followed. ...
  8. You've seen your cat's belly, a lot.

Why does my cat knead me but not my husband? ›

Kneading is a feline behavior that is associated with feelings of comfort, happiness, calmness, security – for the most part, positive emotions. And if your cat prefers to knead on you, instead of any other person in the house, then it might feel more connected and closer to you.

Do cats see in color? ›

In scientific observations, cats do not appear to perceive the full range of colors that humans can. Some scientists believe that cats see only blue and gray, while others think they see also see yellow like their canine counterparts.

How do cats show love? ›

Here are some common signs that your cat loves you:
  • Slow Blinking. Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. ...
  • Headbutting. Your cat may bump their head against you or rub their cheeks against you to show affection. ...
  • Grooming. ...
  • Kneading. ...
  • Showing Their Belly. ...
  • Meowing. ...
  • Purring. ...
  • Greeting You at the Door.
Feb 1, 2022

Why does my cat stare at me? ›

As well as being a method of communication, staring is also a sign of a close bond between you and your cat, as they are unlikely to hold eye contact with someone they don't like or trust.

Why does my cat tap me with her paw? ›

If your cat is kneading you, it is generally a sign that they are very contented and happy, so take it as a compliment! However, it can sometimes hurt if your kitty friend digs in with their nails! If your cat does this, you can try putting a towel or a blanket over your lap to protect it when your cat sits with you.

Do some cats not knead? ›

My cat doesn't knead!

If your cat doesn't knead on you, it doesn't mean your cat loves you any less or isn't happy. It simply means that your cat prefers other ways to communicate happiness or love. Just like humans have different ways of communicating, so too do cats.

Do only female cats knead? ›

“Kneading” is a common behavior in both male and female cats. The action is also referred to as cats making biscuits, happy paws, muffin-making, kneading dough, playing the piano or mashing potatoes.

Do cats knead everyday? ›

In fact, the act of cat kneading commonly is referred to as "kneading dough" or "making bread/biscuits." Not all cats knead, and some cats do so infrequently. She may even bite at the sheets or blanket while kneading. Each cat is unique in her habits.

Why do cats knead on some people and not others? ›

It's possible that cats will knead women because they are usually the one who feeds and looks after them. Females, whether they are dealing with humans or animals, tend to be more patient and compassionate. They often have a natural need to care for others and behave as a mother figure.

Do feral cats knead? ›

Feral cats would knead grass to create a soft sleeping spot or a place to hide their young. This behavior is much like a dog turning in circles before lying down. Kneading is also a calming activity for cats and kittens.

Are cats happy when they purr? ›

In many cases, soft, gentle purrs signal your cat's satisfaction with the world, providing an audible sign of her contentment. But purring doesn't always indicate happiness; some cats also purr when they are hungry or stressed.

Why does my cat follow me to the bathroom? ›

One of the most plausible and sweetest reasons why your cat “follows” you even into the bathroom is that he loves you. The cat wants to take advantage of every second of your presence and every possible opportunity to spend time with you! He adores you so much that he will follow you everywhere in the house.

Can cats imprint on humans? ›

Cats form attachments and imprint on their owners when they have mastered their language and understand how to satisfy their wants. If you treat your cat nicely. While cats are aloof, they do appear to have favorite humans with whom they prefer to snuggle up more than others.

What does it mean when a cat curls up next to you? ›

When your cat is curled up near you, they're simply letting you know that they feel safe. This is your feline friend's way of letting you know that they trust you.

Why do cats rub against you? ›

Cats release friendly pheromones from glands in their cheeks and chin, so when your favorite feline is rubbing its face on you, it usually means they are marking you as a friend. “It's an affectionate gesture that can also be used as a form of greeting,” Dr. Jill E.

Why does my cat follow me everywhere? ›

Cats are often quite independent creatures but if they have a strong bond with you, they may simply follow you around because they want to be near to you and see what you're up to. Or perhaps they're waiting for you to sit down so they can jump on your lap for a snooze.

Why do cats paw before they lay down? ›

As a residual behavior from their feral ancestors, today's house cats often knead their bedding before they lie down to create a comfy, soft sleeping arrangement. This harkens back to the historical process of softening grass or leaves in the wild to create a comfortable place to rest.

What is cat biscuiting? ›

Kneading (also referred to as making biscuits or baking) is a behavior frequently observed in domestic cats where, when a cat feels at ease, it may push out and pull in its front paws against a surface such as furniture or carpet, often alternating between right and left limbs.

What is cat pudding? ›

GimCat Pudding for Cats is especially designed to meet the needs of our feline friends. It is made from whole milk, with a really milky taste. The product is reduced in lactose, so that it is suitable for cats with sensitivities. GimCat Pudding is rich in calcium, which promotes strong, healthy bones.

What is a bread cat? ›

Catloaf (also spelled as cat loaf and sometimes known as hovercat, tugboat or loafing) is an internet phenomenon and term used to describe a domestic cat's sitting position in which its paws and tail are tucked under the body, forming a loaf-like shape.

Are cat licks sanitary? ›

Because cats are not feces eaters (coprophagic), humans are unlikely to become infected by parasites from their cats. Giardia and Cryptosporidia are immediately infective so potentially could be transmitted by a lick.

Do cats give kisses? ›

Cats only make eye contact with people they like and are even known to make 'eye kisses'! This is when a cat will stare with half closed eyelids and slowly blink, repeatedly. It's a gesture that can be reciprocated, so if you notice your cat giving you a 'kiss', why not give them one in return?

Why does my cat sit on my chest? ›

Your Cat is Claiming You or Being Protective

That's also your cat trying to mark you with their scent. Your cat's pheromones not only establish ownership but also familiarity for future encounters. By sitting on your chest, it may be a subtle signal to others in your environment that you belong to them.

Do cats need pillows? ›

Cats are animals that love to sleep in warm, dark little places, preferably in a raised position and away from prying eyes. However, we know cats very well and we can confirm that they also greatly appreciate a soft and cosy cushion that will make them nice and warm in autumn and winter.

Why do cats meow? ›

The cat's meow is her way of communicating with people. Cats meow for many reasons—to say hello, to ask for things, and to tell us when something's wrong. Meowing is an interesting vocalization in that adult cats don't actually meow at each other, just at people.

Why do cats bury their face when kneading? ›

Simply put, your cat is marking you with his or her pheromones. Let's break it down a little bit more… Pheromones are a natural chemical substance that animals emit into the environment to communicate with others. This form of scent communication is seen in all sorts of different species, including us humans!

Why do some cats not like their paws touched? ›

They're soft, small, and just unexplainably adorable. But there is a reason why most cats don't like their paws touched: their paws are extremely sensitive. Cat paws contain large concentrations of nerve receptors, turning your cat's cute paws into finely tuned sensory organs.

Do cats knead with all four paws? ›

Most cats will knead, but not all will do it in the same way. Where the motion of their paws usually remains the same, the accompanying actions may differ. Some will purr really loudly, where others may do it quietly, others may do it with just their front paws, whereas some will put their all into it and use all four.

Why do some cats not purr? ›

Some cats just don't purr.

All cats exhibit individual personalities, and purring may just not be a cat's chosen method of communicating. Instead, your non-purring kitty may use facial expressions or body language to solicit a request for food or affection.

Why doesn't my cat rub against me? ›

If your cat doesn't rub against your leg or never head bumps you, that doesn't mean she doesn't like you. Some cats like to lie around and, rather than exert energy to come see you, they will instead roll over and expose their belly. This doesn't mean they want you to come over and rub their belly.

What does it mean when a cat lets you touch its belly? ›

It means that your cat wants attention and trusts you enough to touch her belly. Remember your cat's belly is the most vulnerable spot on her body. If she allows you to pet her in this area, then she trusts you completely.

Why don't cats let you touch their belly? ›

Some cats don't like belly rubs. Why? Mainly because the stomach area is a very sensitive part of a cat's body. This soft underbelly protects some of their most vital organs, according to the South Boston Animal Hospital.

Do some cats just not knead? ›

If your cat doesn't knead on you, it doesn't mean your cat loves you any less or isn't happy. It simply means that your cat prefers other ways to communicate happiness or love. Just like humans have different ways of communicating, so too do cats.

Do female cats knead more? ›

If you have an unspayed female cat, she has more reason to knead than her male counterparts. Kneading can be a way to communicate that female cats are ready to mate. By doing this, along with purring and lying on her back or side, she is sending a signal to a male cat that they may approach for mating purposes.

Why does my cat meow but not purr? ›

Whilst it is most common for cats to purr, some cats simply don't. Not purring could simply be a matter of your cat's physiology, such as a vocal cord or respiratory system issue meaning they cannot produce a purring sound.

What breed of cat does not purr? ›

For the most part, big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars) can roar, but they can't purr. Cougars and smaller cats (bobcats, ocelots, lynxes, and house cats, among others) can purr, but they can't roar.

What does it mean when your cat greets you with a meow? ›

One reason a cat will meow is to greet someone. This is often a short meow or mew to say hello. This meow is your cat telling you that she is happy or interested in you arriving home. Depending on the cat, the meow may indicate happiness or excitement.

Why do cats put their face in your face? ›

Cats release friendly pheromones from glands in their cheeks and chin, so when your favorite feline is rubbing its face on you, it usually means they are marking you as a friend. “It's an affectionate gesture that can also be used as a form of greeting,” Dr. Jill E.

Why do cats push their head into you? ›

Headbutting is a way for cats to mark you with pheromones and bond with you. However, sometimes headbutting can be a way for cats to seek attention. As a general rule, cats like to be scratched under the chin and on the head, so a cat may just be presenting their head to you for some attention and good scratches.


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