Ever had a cat on your lap who started kneading your leg? Like kneading dough? Or seen one do it to an old sweater, the couch or a cat bed? What’s with that?
Cats already start kneading as newborn kittens before their eyes open. It stimulates the milk flow from the mother. It is not known why cats continue to knead when they are older. Some say it is because they have been taken away from the mother too soon. But that doesn’t hold up as cats who haven’t been taken from their mothers at a young age knead as well. It is also suggested that it is the memory of that warm, secure and happy feeling that makes them knead. It brings them back to that state of happiness and contentment that they felt when they were little kittens. Others say that it is just a way of making the place where they want to lie down more comfortable like humans do with shaking up cushions and bedding, but why do they then sometimes do it on a human chest when they can’t really lie down comfortably? Another theory is that they are simply putting their mark on the area where they are kneading with the scent glands in their paws, that passing their own smell on to the surface makes them feel comfortable. Whatever the reasons, everybody agrees on the fact that cats knead when they feel safe and happy. It sometimes brings them almost in a trance-like mindset. Some even drool when they knead.
A cat kneading on your lap can be a painful affair as they often use their nails in the process. I find catupuncture quite relaxing. It doesn’t bother me to get purfurated. If you have a problem with a cat kneading while sitting on your lap, simply put a folded towel on your lap and let the cat sit on the towel. The extra layer will protect your legs. Never punish cats for kneading, as it’s their way of letting you know they’re happy and that they feel safe around you. It’s about the biggest compliment you can get.