Kitten in a red tunnel

Cat kneading FAQ

Understanding this common behaviour can help you get to know your cat, and may even deepen your bond.

What is kneading?

Kneading is the rhythmic back and forth motion a cat makes by alternating the stroke of their paws against something soft. You may have also heard the term "making biscuits", as the motion is similar to kneading dough.

Not all cats use the same method of kneading. Some may use their claws, some purr and some cats even dribble at the same time.

Why do cats knead?


The kneading habit begins when cats are young and dependent on their mother for food. Kittens knead their mother's stomach to stimulate the flow of milk from the teat into their mouths. This is also why some cats dribble when they knead – they expect the milk that would have come from their mum after kneading her stomach.


If your cat kneads your lap when you cuddle, it could indicate that they feel secure like they did with their mother. Unfortunately, this can also mean that the happier your cat is, the harder they knead you.

Other signs your cat loves you


Some cats may knead to prepare their bed before they sleep. It's thought that this behaviour comes from felines in the wild, who would press down long grass to make space to sleep.

Can you stop your cat kneading?

The short answer is that you cannot stop your cat from kneading. Cats knead when they’re happy – it's part of their feline personality and it’s meant as a compliment. If you want to protect your legs from kneading, you can place a thick blanket on your lap the next time your cat decides to come for a cuddle.

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• 7 May 2024

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• 7 May 2027

Approved by
Anna Ewers Clark

Veterinary Surgeon MRCVS

Claire crouching next to her white staffie dog
Approved by
Claire Stallard

Animal Behaviourist ABTC-CAB