Cats Kneading: A Sign of Affection

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, reveals why cats knead.

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, reveals why cats knead.

Q: Is it normal for my cat to exercise her paws on my stomach?

JA: Yes. This is a true sign of affection from your kitty. This behavior is known as kneading because the back and forth motion of your cat’s front paws resembles the back and forth motion we use to knead bread.

My calico cat, Ethel, likes to knead on her favorite plush donut-shaped bed. She becomes so relaxed she drops right off to sleep. Meanwhile, Muriel, my gray and white sweetie, considers my stomach her number one spot. When I am in bed and under the covers, she jumps up and starts to knead. I always make sure her nails are trimmed, or this could be quite uncomfortable. She eventually settles down with her paws tucked under her chest (I call this the “muff” position) and dozes off.

Cats tend to knead on soft things like bedding or your stomach. Kittens knead when they are nursing, and it is thought it gives them the same comfort as adults. They purr and very often look completely relaxed, as if in a trance. 

Cats show affection in many ways – like rubbing our ankles or curling up in our laps – but it’s a real sign of love and affection when they knead on you. Enjoy it and your wonderful kitty, but keep her nails trimmed

As always, I welcome your comments and stories.

Jeanne’s Tip of the Week: Read pet food labels carefully. You want the first ingredient to be chicken, beef or fish.

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