Why Do Cats Need to Knead?

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    Why Do Cats Need to Knead?

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    t n fals. You st down on the couch for an evenng of nonstop streamng of your favorte seres or — even better — wth a book and a cup of tea. And here comes your furry feline friend wth an ntent look on her face and a purr at the ready.

    She happly places her paws just so on your leg and st kneadng, rhythmcally pressng her lttle front feet nto your soft flesh. t’s cute, even f t does knd of hurt sometmes. Mostly because she’s so dang happy. But why does she do t?

    Kttens are born wth an instinct to knead. As tny lttle fuzzballs, they press nto ther mother’s belly whle they nurse. Ths acton stmulates the mlk to come out of her npple and feed the baby ktty. Ths s called “milk treading,” whch s less adorable than the more common term “makng bscuts.” Whle they’re tucked up aganst mom, the ktten s rm — and beng fed — and feelng very content.

    Even after kttens are weaned, they contnue ths lttle two-paw dance when they’re happy. (Some cats get really nto t and knead wth all four paws.) People used to beleve that adult cats kneaded because they were weaned too early, but that see unlkely. Almost all cats knead, no matter when they were weaned. Many cats do t even f they grow up n the same house a wth ther mom.

    There are other reasons why cats knead, though. Cats have scent glands near ther cheeks, at the base of ther tal and — you guessed t — n the pads of ther paws. Kneadng a blanket, a pllow or your stomach as you le on the couch tchng Netflix together leaves behnd a trace of your cat’s partcular scent. She’s marked you and probably y soft thng n the house as hers, and she’s not wrong.

    There’s another theory that ths acton comes from ancestral cats who lved outdoors, wth nary a pllow or lap to ther name. They would knead to trample any grasses and rough up the ground to make t soft enough for sleepng. t’s smlar to the theory about why dogs turn around n crcles before settlng down to sleep.

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    Why Do Cats Need to Knead?


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