Cat kneading cushion

Why do cats make biscuits?

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No, we are not talking about baking here! The term ‘making biscuits’ actually refers to the kneading behavior of cats that mimics the motion of making dough. We have all felt it when our cats jump onto our laps and start rhythmically pushing their claws into our stomachs. Frankly, it’s adorable to watch (if not a little painful sometimes!). But why do cats do it? Read on to find out.

What is kneading?

Kneading, or ‘making biscuits’ is a deep-rooted feline behavior. It stems from the way young kittens use their paws to stimulate their mothers’ milk production by pressing on her belly. Despite this, many domestic cats continue to perform this behavior well into adulthood. Many experts believe that spaying and neutering are to blame. By reducing our cat’s hormone levels, we could be causing them to retain many of their kitten-like behaviors. Other professionals suggest that the behavior is retained simply because of the positive feelings associated with it.

What is important to remember here, is that kneading is perfectly normal for cats. In fact, it often signifies comfort and contentment. Some cats will put their claws out while kneading and others won’t. Some may use all four feet, whereas others may prefer to just use their front paws. However your cat chooses to make biscuits, it is certain to be a very pleasurable experience! You may even notice your kitty drooling, purring, or even zoning out completely while making biscuits!

Aside from comfort, there are several other theories as to why adult cats make biscuits. Here are the main ones:

To create a resting place

In the wild, our cats’ ancestors would make biscuits to flatten potential resting areas and make them more comfortable. This process would also help them detect any potential hazards before lying down. So, according to this theory, your cat could simply be making biscuits to create a comfy bed for himself!

To mark their territory

Cats have scent glands on the undersides of their paw pads, as well as on their heads, flanks, cheeks, and tail. They use these glands to mark specific objects with their unique scent. This simple act tells other cats in the area a wealth of information such as age, reproductive status, and even their mood! Pretty cool huh? Scent marking is also a way for cats to claim territory. So, by kneading a blanket, your cat is basically saying ‘this is mine’!

To stretch

Just like humans, cats enjoy a good stretch! When cats make biscuits, they stretch out their limbs. So, by alternating legs, they are giving their muscles a good workout and stimulating blood circulation.

To show affection

If your cat jumps onto your lap and starts making biscuits, he is likely showing you love! In fact, the harder your feline companion kneads you, the stronger the display of affection.

To show females are in heat

A female cat that has not been spayed, may knead to advertise to males that she is receptive to mating. Especially if the behavior is accompanied by excessive vocalizations and restlessness.

To relieve stress

If you notice your cat is kneading constantly, it may be a sign that he or she is stressed. Overly anxious or shy cats may indulge in the behavior in an attempt to make themselves feel better. If this is the case, you may also notice your cat becoming more withdrawn, vocalizing excessively, or eating less than usual. It is important to be calm and patient with nervous cats. Allow them to move at their own pace whilst offering plenty of reassurance.

Tip: Oriental breeds, such as the Balinese and Siamese, are more likely to overindulge in biscuit making than other breeds due to their affectionate natures and longer weaning periods.

Can I stop my cat making biscuits?

The short answer is no you can’t because it is an instinctual behavior. However, if you have a cat that loves to get his claws out on your lap, you will know how painful it can be! It can also lead to a bit of unwanted furniture destruction! So, what can you do?

I’ll state the obvious first by mentioning that you should NEVER punish a cat for kneading, as this will cause a lot of stress and confusion. Try using distraction or re-direction techniques instead, such as placing an old thick blanket on your lap. You can also utilize a bit of pheromone persuasion to encourage your kitty to make biscuits on a certain spot by spraying it with a Feliway product or something similar.

If your cat continues to vigorously attempt to knead your stomach, place him gently onto the floor and use treats or interactive toys as a distraction. You can also try trimming your cats’ nails but make sure you only cut off the tip and seek the advice of a vet if you are unsure.

But my cat doesn’t make biscuits – should I be worried?

Every cat is an individual with its own personality and quirks! Even though making biscuits is a common behavior for domestic adult cats, not all felines will indulge in it. Your cat may simply choose to display affection and happiness in other ways, such as purring or rubbing against you. So, whether you have a cat that just loves to dig its claws into you or one that is content simply settling down next to you, just keep ensuring your beloved companion is relaxed and happy!

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