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Have you recently adopted a new kitten? Congratulations! Your tiny ball of fur will probably have you wrapped around her cute little paws in no time. Kittens are beyond cute. They’re also a bit of a handful. One thing that you may find yourself dealing with over the next few months is little Fluffy’s habit of kneading … or making biscuits, as it is sometimes called. What’s that all about? A local veterinarian takes a look at this cute—and somewhat painful—habit below.
Kneading probably isn’t anyone’s favorite feline behavior. Those little claws are sharp! Why do kitties knead? In case you were wondering, Fluffy isn’t deliberately trying to shred your legs. This is actually an instinctive behavior. When kittens are nursing, kneading helps stimulate milk flow. (This may spark a new respect for mama cats, who could have several tiny balls of fur kneading her at once. Ouch!)
So, we’ve just explained kneading in baby cats. But what about adult furballs? Why is Fluffy still making biscuits long after she’s all grown up? Well, this actually means that your pet sees you as a second ‘parent.’ She isn’t really trying to nurse at this point, so much as exhibiting behaviors that she associates with feeling loved and safe. You might have noticed that your kitty probably purrs and looks quite happy when she is digging in. Love hurts!
Fluffy might not only be kneading because it reminds her of her early kittenhood. Cats do have scent glands in their paws. This means that your kitty might actually be marking you as ‘hers.’ Then again, she may just find it feels good to stretch her little toes.
Never punish Fluffy for kneading. For one thing, she doesn’t realize it hurts you. Plus, negative interactions could make her feel uneasy or unloved. Try picking up her paw and gently massaging it instead. That may still trigger that feeling of love and happiness, without the accompanying ouchies. You can also try telling your pet to put her claws away. Of course, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You may find it easiest just to put a towel or blanket on your lap before letting your furball get comfy.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if ever we can be of assistance. As your local animal clinic, we are here to help with all of your cat care ‘kneads.’