It’s a quiet evening and you’re just settling into a riveting show on Netflix. You gesture to your favourite furball to join you, because clearly this situation calls for cuddling. Obediently, your cat jumps on your stomach. All is well.
And then suddenly, out of nowhere, she starts tenderizing the soft flesh of your belly with her sharp claws. This surprise attack on your midsection jolts you out of your relaxed reverie and your blood pressure spikes. Has your cat mistaken you for a piece of dough? What is the meaning of this onslaught??
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’ve been on the receiving end of a kneading kitty. Chances are your shocked and pained expressions went completely unnoticed as cats tend to get lost in a blissful dream world while clawing at soft flesh. This rhythmic gesture brings back fond memories of kittenhood, where they would knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk production. You’ve given your kitty a good life, but nothing beats the good ol days of cuddling up next to warm bodies and getting fed on demand. Life is just SO different now, ya know?
Another reason cats knead is to clear a space for dozing. Nobody wants to lie on lumpy bed, so sometimes a comfortable nap requires a bit of prep work. I wouldn’t take offense, rest assured your cat loves you just the way you are. In fact, you may not be lumpy at all - it’s possible your feline simply wants to mark you as his territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws, meaning a thorough kneading of your lap is his way of claiming you as his own. Little does he know, that happened a LONG time ago.
Cats may also knead in order to get your attention. Are you daring to focus on something other than her immediate needs ? Her tiny marching claws will surely help you remember your priorities. Coupled with manipulative purring, your kitty is sure to have you doing her bidding in no time.
When it boils down to it, kneading is an instinctive behaviour that brings comfort and feels good. Not all cats knead in the same way, and some don’t use their claws at all. If you’re the lucky companion of a clawless kneader, kneading can be an adorable throwback to kittenhood. If you have a claw-wielding type, prepare for the occasional ambush and accept the fact that it’s something to get used to. A regular claw-trimming regimen may help the situation, of course. As can a thick blanket. There’s no reason that cuddling can’t be a win-win for all parties involved. Be safe out there.