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Cat kneading and biting blanket: What does it mean?

Having a cat always ensures good times full of games, cuddles, and laughter because they are experts in attracting attention and doing tricks. But sometimes, they exhibit strange behaviors that make us quickly investigate, “why does my cat do this?” A cat kneading and biting a blanket simultaneously is one of those moments. Little by little, we are deciphering the not-so-secret feline language that allows us to understand our furry friend better.

I was very intrigued to see my cat kneading her blankets. Sometimes she also kneaded my legs, and it looked like she was giving me a massage. But since my cat is most likely not trying to help me relax, I did some research and what I found surprised me. If you have wondered what your cat is doing when she kneads her blankets, I suggest you keep reading and find out.

cat kneading and biting blanket - what is kneading

What is kneading?

Have you ever seen your cat make a repetitive motion where she gently pushes one paw followed by the other? This is called kneading because it resembles the movement we make when we knead the dough. The rhythmic activity is also known as “making biscuits.” It is usually performed on a comfortable, spongy surface, such as the bed, a pillow, a blanket, or a delicate part of your body, such as the stomach or legs.

When a cat kneads, it tends to lick and chew on the object in question, becoming so focused on the movement that it may even end up drooling.

Why does my cat knead and bite?

There might be multiple reasons for this behavior. Let’s look at the most likely ones and why they happen.

1. Old nursing times

When cats are born, they depend on their mothers for nourishment. Their mother’s milk helps them survive and grow healthy and strong. When kittens nurse, they do so lying down and using their paws to hold onto their mother’s stomach, and it is in this position that kneading begins as a natural movement. The cat instinctively kneads its mother’s nipple, unaware that this movement helps stimulate the milk flow.

As cats age, they may continue the habit of kneading, but now they do it on surfaces that remind them of their mother’s soft touch, such as a pillow. The memory of nursing is tender and soothing to the cat, so when a cat kneads, it does so because it feels safe, calm, and comfortable. It is believed that when a cat kneads, it tends to bite and drool because its brain unconsciously anticipates milk flow, as when it was a kitten.

2. Preparing a comfy bed

Many cats perform this movement when getting ready to relax and sleep. You will see them knead the blankets and bed until they are prepared for a perfect sleep. This instinct comes from when they were wild cats sleeping under the stars without comfortable cotton beds.

In the wild, felines sleep in trees or on the ground, so kneading is associated with the habit many big cats and feral cats have of piling and flattening the leaves where they sleep. Like a dog that turns over a thousand times before bed, the domestic cat kneads its bed to make it fluffier.

cat kneading and biting blanket - claim territory

3. Claiming territory

If you have a cat, you probably already know they are very territorial. Everything their eyes can see is theirs. A very effective way cats claim their belongings is to flood them with pheromones, hormones we can’t perceive, which are an olfactory seal that they can’t ignore. And how do they secrete these pheromones? Quite simply, they come out through your cat’s scent glands found on her face, tail, and, yes, also on her paws.

If one day you see your cat kneading her bed, it’s because she doesn’t want someone else to use it, and if you happen to be the recipient of a fine kneading, she also wants to let everyone know that you already have an owner.

Is kneading and biting dangerous for my cat?

Not at all. It’s a natural behavior for cats. Whether they do it or not, it’s common and safe. The only problem that could exist is if your cat, in addition to chewing his bed or blanket, also swallows pieces of the fabric, which could indicate PICA if it is a young cat or stressed. Only in these cases would we recommend that you see a veterinarian for guidance and to prevent gastrointestinal problems after the cat ingests an inedible object.

How can I prevent my cat from kneading and biting?

We understand that this habit of your cat is not your favorite, maybe because she has sharp claws and hurts you, or because her bites are more potent than a simple love nip, or perhaps you don’t like that she “makes biscuits” on her bed because it wears it out with that much kneading.

Luckily for you, there are several things you can try to make her stop doing it little by little. We only ask that you don’t scold her because it’s a natural behavior for her, and she won’t understand what she’s doing wrong.

cat kneading and biting blanket - how to prevent it
  • When your cat wants to knead on your legs, place a blanket between your skin and the cat. This way, you won’t feel its sharp nails.
  • Learn to identify when your cat is about to do his usual kneading and distract her with a light noise or a new toy. At least she will lose interest in kneading at that moment.
  • When your cat kneads on your lap, get up quietly and leave the room. You won’t get your cat to stop kneading thoroughly, but at least you’ll be able to stop her from kneading on you, as she’ll associate kneading in your lap with you ignoring her.

Cat kneading and biting blanket: The bottom line

Now you know that when your cat kneads and bites her bed or blanket, it’s not because she wants to destroy it but because it’s a natural feline behavior with different origins and meanings. So the next time you see your cat doing it, try not to be angry with her and think about why she might be doing it.

And if you want her to stop, remember to be patient and never yell at her, as she won’t understand what she’s doing wrong. Do you have a cat that kneads and bites its bed or your blankets? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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