How To Stop A Cat From Kneading?

You’ve seen it many times – your cat’s front paws simultaneously massaging a squishy surface until they fall asleep. Cat’s may not be professional bakers, but they’re quite skilled at kneading.

While it’s normal for cats to “make bread,” this adorable mannerism is shrouded in mystery.

There are many speculations as to why cats knead on soft surfaces. One is that it’s a behavior they’ve carried over from kittenhood.

Another is that it’s a way for them to self-soothe and calm themselves.

You’ve probably noticed your cat kneading your leg as they sit on your lap or pillows as they lie on the couch.

They usually do this on soft surfaces and could purr and then fall asleep while doing so.

A kneading cat will mean no harm. However, if they have untrimmed claws, it could cause some damage or discomfort.

The last thing you want is your cat ripping through your sofa or jeans. Thankfully, there are workarounds to your cat’s bread-making habit.

What makes my cat knead? 

Felines of all sizes knead instinctively. Cats of the wild have been seen kneading the ground as a way to create a resting spot – pushing down tall grass to stay dry and comfortable.

Naturally, these feline instincts would get passed on to even the most domesticated cats. After all, a stuffy pillow needs just as much softening up as a spot in the savannah.

However, some cats knead just for the sake of it – regardless if they’re about to sleep on a spot or not.

This has led people to think that perhaps the mannerism is a reflex they learned as kittens since kittens have been observed to knead their mothers’ breasts while feeding on her milk.

Cats have also been seen kneading when they’re happy – expressing pleasure and contentment. You can see this when you pet your cat, and they start purring and kneading your lap.

Besides prepping their sleeping spot or showing contentment, cats could knead as a way to mark their territory.

Certain glands in their paws release pheromones that let out their own unique scent – signaling to other cats that this is their territory.

This is usually paired with your cat’s instinct to rub their bodies on surfaces, indicating their taking ownership of that object or place.

If your cat kneads particular objects and places in the house, in addition to rubbing their bodies on it, this could indicate that they are taking ownership of it.

Similarly, if your cat is kneading a spot in your sofa or bed, they could be indirectly telling you that that is their spot.

You should pay attention to where and what your cat considers theirs – otherwise, you might end up making an enemy out of them.

cat is kneading too much

What if my cat is kneading too much? 

While kneading is a normal feline habit, too much of it could mean something else entirely.

Because kneading is a way for your cat to self-soothe, kneading obsessively could indicate an underlying problem, such as a physical ailment or stress.

If you notice your cat kneading too much and looking tense, you should contact your veterinarian.

Be sure to watch them closely and approach them with caution. A high-strung feline could scratch or bite as a defense – even if it’s their owners approaching them.

An anxious cat could start kneading to calm itself down. If they’re not purring and are wide-eyed, it’s likely that they’re nervous about their environment.

Be sure also to check if there are any off-putting smells or sounds in your house that could be the cause of your cat’s distress.

A stranger in the house, or another cat, could also be the cause. Cats get stressed out if you suddenly introduce them to strangers – especially when their space becomes compromised.

If your cat isn’t the friendly type, be mindful of guests and other pets that come into your cat’s personal space.

Is my cat clingy if they’re always kneading? 

Kneading is one of the ways your cat communicates its fondness to you. If you leave them alone in the house for a day, or even for just a few hours, likely, they’ll play up their kneading game once you get home.

This is a way for them to re-establish their scent on you. It’s also a way to show their affection.

Playtime with your cat is essential, as this helps build your bond with them. An excessively-kneading cat might indicate restlessness, so make sure to spend a specific time during the day to play with them.

Indoor house cats need toys and surfaces to climb on, while cats that are used to the outdoors can be taken out for walks.

A bit of quiet time is also necessary for your cat’s well-being. Cuddling and talking to your cat will turn their stressful kneading into a more comforting one.

Don’t be surprised if your cat continues kneading you even as they drift into sleep.

A sleepy kneading cat means that they’re completely relaxed, and cuddling with your cat is healthy for both the cat and the owner.

Is kneading a sign of going into heat? 

If your cat is a female, a particular season will have them kneading and meowing constantly. As it turns out, female cats let male cats know they’re in heat by spreading their pheromones around.

If they’re kept indoors, they will try to tell you that they want to go out – being more vocal and affectionate than usual.

There’s no way to stop your cat from doing what’s natural. However, if you want to get rid of a cat’s signs and symptoms in heat, you can opt to have your feline friend neutered.

Neutering not only gets rid of a noisy and knead-y cat in heat but also lessens the risk of them getting diseases related to unwanted pregnancies.

If you plan on getting your cat neutered, be sure to contact your veterinarian first. Some cats may not handle the procedure and may cause further complications.

cat cant stop kneading

Can I stop my cat from kneading? 

Kneading is intuitive to your cat and will pop up whenever they’re stimulated. To prevent your cat from kneading isn’t only difficult, it’s bad for them.

This may prove a problem if your cat’s claws are untrimmed. Sharp claws kneading the couch, bed, or your legs are the last thing anybody wants.

Luckily, there are ways to lead your cat into doing something else. While you can’t stop them from kneading, you can redirect their kneading target.

You can place a knead-able blanket or object under their paws as a way to protect sensitive surfaces.

If they get used to this kneading blanket, you can train your cat to knead only that – lessening the risk of your household items getting ripped to shreds.

For the added safety, you can also trim your cat’s claws. Trimming your pet’s claws has to be dealt with carefully.

If done improperly, your cat could get hurt. Make sure not to cut it too short. Else, your cat will get stressed out by the lack of sharpness in its claws.

Cutting your cat’s claws or filing them down assures you that no curtains or bed sheets are going to get scratched while also not getting in the way of your cat’s instinctive tendencies.

If ever your cat does end up kneading something that they shouldn’t, it’s best not to punish them for it.

Can I train my cat to stop kneading? 

While you can’t train your cat to stop kneading, you can train them to get used to kneading elsewhere.

In addition to keeping their claws trimmed, redirecting your cat’s kneading target will teach them that there are objects that they can’t knead.

Training your cat to only knead on certain objects is the best way for them to exercise their instincts while also saving your household from feline destruction.

You shouldn’t scold your cat for kneading because if you do, they just might resent you.

Keep your cat’s trust by letting them do their thing. If you can help it, let them knead on your lap until it’s safe for you to move them somewhere else.

Your cat will eventually learn to knead where they know it is allowed and avoid the places you continuously take them out of.

Cats need to knead

You can’t stop a cat from being a cat. Your feline friend is an expressive creature, and you as their owner should be able to read what they’re trying to convey – no matter how strange it may seem at first.

Kneading is cute and innocent at face value but can be quite complicated once you know your cat well enough.

As a responsible pet owner, being able to tell if your cat is kneading to self-soothe or to release stress makes all the difference.

Let your furry friend knead to their heart’s content – and work around their habits for both your sakes.

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Rita Wagener
Rita is a resident paw expert at Pet Keepers. A registered & licensed dog trainer, she also has a degree in animal nutrition, and runs her own dog training course.

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