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Why do cats knead?

What is kneading? How do cats feel when they knead?

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Kneading is when the cat slowly shifts its weight from one front leg to the other, spreading the toes on the paw it’s about to stand on, then closing the toes again once its weight is on the foot. The cat may stand, sit or lie on its stomach while kneading. It’s usually purring and appears relaxed, sometimes with its eyes half shut. When your cat was still a little kitten feeding on its mother’s milk, the kitten pushes its mother’s skin on either side of the nipple using the exact same kneading behavior.

A kitten nursing on its mother’s milk feels safe, happy and contented. Therefore, when an adult cat shows this behavior, it’s showing happiness, pleasure and contentment – hence it will often knead on its favorite human’s lap, or on a soft blanket, cuddly toy, favorite bed, etc.

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