Has your Bengal cat (or any other breed, for that matter) ever looked like they are making biscuits/kneading dough?
If so, you might be a bit puzzled by this particular behavior. It certainly looks a bit strange, and while cats appear to enjoy doing it, your soft furnishings may not be quite so appreciative.
But why do cats make biscuits (also known as “kneading”) and what exactly does cat kneading mean?
In this article I’m going to give you a quick rundown on why your cat looks like he/she is making biscuits on a soft surface, and what this means.
Before I had a Bengal cat, my family had an Abyssinian cat who used to frequently knead on the dog (who seemed to quite enjoy what must have felt like a relaxing massage from a feline friend). This is a behavior found in all breeds/types of domestic cats.
Cat Kneading 101
Cats are known for their peculiar behavior of “kneading,” a rhythmic alternating of their paws against a soft surface, often while purring contentedly.
Here’s a simple animated image from Wikipedia that demonstrates on a cat (not a Bengal, I might add) what kneading or “making biscuits”/bread looks like when a cat does it:
This behavior is most often observed in domestic cats, but it can also be seen in wild felines. While it is clear that cats find kneading to be a comforting and pleasurable activity, the exact reason for this behavior is not fully understood.
In this article, we will explore the various theories behind feline kneading and discuss how to prevent potential issues that may arise from this behavior.
In A Hurry? Here’s What You Need To Know
- If your cat is “making biscuits”/making bread – this behavior is actually known as kneading
- It is perfectly normal and healthy for your cat to engage in this behavior
- The reasons for cat kneading are not completely understood. However, it is clear that it is soothing and relaxing for cats
- The main risk from kneading is damage to soft furnishings e.g. couches, rugs, pillows, soft toys etc as the claws extend during the kneading process – there is typically nothing to worry about from the perspective of behavioral normalcy
Theories About Why Cats “Make Biscuits” On Blankets & Other Soft Items
Means Of Marking Territory
One theory behind kneading is that it serves as a way for cats to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws, and it is believed that they may use kneading as a way to leave their scent on objects or people. This behavior may be especially common in cats who are feeling threatened or anxious, as a way to establish their dominance and claim their space. Scent/smell is very important to cats and feline communication, so kneading on objects to mark territory via scent is a logical behavior.
Getting Ready For Bed
Another theory is that cats knead as a way to prepare a comfortable place to sleep. In the wild, cats will pat down grass or other vegetation to create a soft, padded surface to rest on. If you think about the origins of the cat prior to domestication, this explanation actually makes a great deal of sense, as for much of history cats wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to have comfortable beds like many enjoy these days. Domestic cats may exhibit this same behavior by kneading blankets, bedding, or even their human’s lap. Kneading may also serve as a way for cats to relax and prepare for sleep, much like humans may take deep breaths or perform other relaxation techniques before bed.
Stimulating Milk Production
It is also possible that kneading is a vestigial behavior that originates from the nursing process in kittens. In other words, your cat kneading on its mother when it was a kitten in order to get more milk, and “remnants” of this behavior continue into feline adulthood despite receiving milk not actually being required.
When nursing, kittens will sometimes knead their mother’s belly in order to stimulate the flow of milk. This behavior may continue into adulthood, even when the cat is no longer nursing. In these cases, kneading may serve as a way for cats to comfort themselves or to associate the behavior with a positive outcome. I’m sure someone will be able to comment at the bottom of this article about human behaviors that are similar in nature (i.e. a “throw back” to infanthood/childhood”)
What’s interesting here is that you can find plenty of stories online about
It’s Relaxing For Your Cat
Finally, some experts believe that cats simply find kneading to be a soothing and pleasurable activity, and that it serves as a way for them to relax and unwind. After all, being a cat can be a fairly stressful business on occasion!
Much like purring, kneading/making cat biscuits is not perfectly understood (if only because we can’t actually ask cats what they are thinking when exhibiting these behaviors, which makes understanding them much more challenging) but the above theories all seem fairly sound to me.
Problems Associated With Feline Kneading
While kneading can be an endearing behavior to observe in cats, it can also cause problems.
For one, the extended claws that often accompany kneading can be painful if they dig into human skin. In addition, kneading can cause damage to upholstery, linens, and clothing.
To prevent these issues, there are a few simple measures that cat owners can take. First, you can place a thick, old towel or blanket between you and your cat during lap time to provide a protective barrier.
You can also cover areas where your cat likes to knead with old throws or other linens that you don’t mind getting damaged. Regular grooming, including monthly nail trims, can also help to prevent issues with kneading.
Finally, it is important to discourage cats from kneading on children under 10 years of age, as well as elderly family members, as a scratch from extended claws can lead to infection or illness; both children and the elderly are more prone to infection from cat scratches (both accidental and deliberate).
Recap – Why Do Cats Make Biscuits/Knead (On Blankets & Soft Objects)
In conclusion, while the exact reason for feline kneading behavior remains a mystery, it is clear that cats find it comforting and enjoyable.
Therefore, if your cat is kneading – seemingly making biscuits/bread on soft objects in your house – then rest assured that nothing is wrong.
To prevent any potential problems that may arise from kneading, such as claw scratches or damage to household items, cat owners can take a few simple precautions.
Despite the unknowns, it is clear that kneading is a sweet and endearing behavior that brings joy to both cats and their human companions.