Some cats are so “kneady.” They push and pull their paws in and out on soft surfaces like the bedspread, the carpet, their beds – even you. Sometimes this is accompanied by a bit of drooling. Your kitty may look absolutely contented during such episodes and may even purr.
Several theories exist for the behavior. Some people think it stems from them being weaned too young. Some think it is because they were weaned too late. The most logical explanation, however, is that it’s simply a comfort behavior that cats remember from when they are babies. Nursing kittens use similar paw and arm movements to stimulate milk flow from their mothers’ breasts. Momma cat also kneads the sleeping area to create a nice soft surface for her and her kittens. Whatever the precise reason for kneading, one thing is for sure: A kneady cat is a happy cat.
Kneading is a sweet behavior to watch, but it can be painful if your cat is in the habit of kneading with its claws bared. Kittens knead with their claws retracted because their moms wouldn’t allow it any other way. You can train your kitty to knead with claws retracted, too, by gently tossing him off your lap when he uses his claws, and praising him when he kneads gently without using his claws. Or you could just put a nice thick blanket on your lap and relax.
Kneading is a sign that your cat is happy, comfortable and relaxed. You should feel proud if your cat deems you worthy of sharing this pleasure and it’s your cat’s way of saying he’s glad you are there. It’s nice to be kneaded!