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Domestic cats are quite the conundrum. Most would exude elegance, sophistication, and grace, giving everyone around them a “don’t mess with me” attitude. But they also make some of the silliest habits, like getting spooked by cucumbers or randomly presenting their precious behinds to their cat parents. One particular behavior that stands out is cats doing biscuits. 

Cats tend to continuously push their paws on a soft surface, similar to a kneading motion. Check out this hilarious compilation of “overworked” cats making pastry goods.

But what is the mystery behind cats kneading? Is it something you should worry about? Let’s uncover the secrets surrounding this weird habit from our feline friends and determine whether it’s normal or indicates an underlying condition.

Fresh From the Oven: Why Does My Cat Make Biscuits?

Cats kneading on soft objects and surfaces is always a sight, but you may wonder what pushes them to do such behavior. Is it simply a silly habit, or should cat owners start worrying? 

The following can explain why cats knead:

  • Natural feline evolutionary behavior
  • Territorial reasons
  • Affection
  • Stress
  • Looking for a nap spot
  • Courtship and mating

Let’s delve into each point to clarify further.

Instinctual Behavior

Unlike what many cat owners may believe, cats kneading imaginary doughs go as far back as their kittenhood. Newborns knead at their mothers to receive more milk during rearing. Consequently, kittens began associating warm feelings such as comfort and security with kneading, effectively bringing this behavior to adulthood.

Marking Territory

Though they may seem nonchalant and indifferent most of the time, cats can be as territorial as any other animal. In line with the previous section, one possible reason to explain why adult cats knead is their territorial instinct. 

Cats have scent glands on their paws. When they repeatedly press on or scratch certain surfaces, they leave behind their mark and claim the area as their territory.

The same reason applies when they exhibit the following territorial habits:

  • Showing aggressive traits such as hissing, biting, and growling
  • Licking at the area
  • Spraying or peeing on a spot

Sign of Affection and Comfort

Instead of a soft object, your cat may sometimes knead on your face, belly, arm, lap, or leg. Don’t worry; your feline friend pressing their tiny paws on your body doesn’t necessarily mean they’re marking you as part of their territory (though it could be possible). 

This kneading behavior may signify that your cat is giving back the love and affection you have given them. They want attention and a considerable amount of TLC. 

Finally, kneading can convey that your pet is comfortable, content, and ultimately happy to have you by their side. They may also meow, pur, or rub themselves on you. How sweet!

Relieving Stress

A cat may knead biscuits because they are trying to relieve their stress or anxiety. Pets also experience anxiety and stress like humans. So when feeling agitated, they may start kneading to soothe and alleviate such distressing feelings.

However, if you notice that your cat’s kneading behavior becomes increasingly frequent, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. If they exhibit excessive kneading along with the following symptoms, it’s best to bring your cat to a vet to resolve this behavioral issue promptly:

  • Excessive meowing, panting, or breathing
  • Lack of or changes in appetite
  • Issues with emptying their bladder
  • Showing aggressive behavior
  • Being overly clingy

Getting Ready for Sleep

When you head to bed, do you immediately fall asleep? We’re sure you toss and turn a few times and find the “cool” side of your pillow that hits just right before sleep finally comes. Cats surprisingly work the same way for relaxation. 

A probable reason for cat pawing may be that your feline friend is seeking a good spot before they hit the hay. Cats instinctively paw and press on a specific area to check if it is a comfortable and safe space for quick naps and deep slumbers.

You may also notice your cat kneading while asleep, signifying they’re comfortable in their slumber and are currently dreaming. Observe your precious pet’s next cat nap and see!

All Things Reproductive

Although cat kneading looks adorable, funny, and innocent, it can ironically mean something less wholesome. For example, if your female cat kneads imaginary air dough while lying down on her side, she is currently in heat and calling for an available mate.

A pregnant cat might also undergo labor if she paws at her nesting box or your lap. This behavior helps them soothe labor pains.

Safety in The Kitchen: Precautionary Measures for Cat Kneading

After uncovering the shrouded mystery surrounding the “cat making dough” phenomenon, we can conclude that kneading is a normal and inherent behavior that every feline exhibits. Only when the behavior becomes excessive can it signify a potential problem. 

Still, it's natural (and often reassuring) for cat parents to ask if something should be done to encourage and ensure safe cat-kneading behavior. Here are some answers for you!

🐾 Keep your cat’s nails trimmedKeeping your pet’s nails neatly cut can ensure they won’t scratch and damage surfaces, hurt your face or body, become stuck, or accidentally harm themselves while kneading.
🏠 Provide appropriate surfaces for kneadingInvest in scratching mats or posts designed for kneading to prevent damage to furniture or other valuable items at home. Place them strategically to direct your cat’s attention elsewhere, luring them into toys or soft surfaces. 
🧸Use soft barriersIf your cat likes to knead on sensitive areas like your lap or chest, use a soft blanket or towel as a protective barrier between their paws and your skin. It provides a cushioning effect and reduces the likelihood of discomfort or unintentional scratching. 

Kneading is a completely harmless feline habit. However, it can quickly become a nuisance to some owners, especially if their cat repeatedly kneads on their face or body. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately), cats making imaginary biscuits is a habit that won’t go anytime soon.

You can temporarily stop your cat from pawing at your face. However, if you wish to cease this behavior completely, understand that eliminating it is not feasible since it is rooted in their instincts. Patience and proper care are key!

Closing Up the Shop

Hopefully, this article has cleared the air and has stopped you from worrying your little head over this strange yet adorable cat quirk. The next time your cat prepares a fresh batch of imaginary biscuits, know it’s a completely instinctive behavior that comforts them or shows their appreciation for you.

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