Why Cats Need Kneading and Deep Diggers

Cat kneading and sucking on a blanket.

Our cats have many fun and adorable behavioral traits, two are purring and kneading. One behavior is not, that is digging deep into to the litter box and flinging litter all over, more about that later. When our cats start to purr or knead us, it makes us as humans feel as good as it does them, which is wonderful… depending if their claws aren’t too sharp or depending on which tender body part they are pushing on! Whether you are a new or veteran cat parent to a young or old kitty, there is a good chance you have witnessed or experienced kneading. Most cat parents have also noticed their (young or older) kitties sucking on soft fabrics. Both these behaviors are instinctive and have their roots in early kitten-hood.

Kneading has a purpose for kittens

Kneading is the act of a cat pressing it’s paws into a soft surface in an alternating motion. Kittens start to knead before they are even able to get around on their own while nursing from their mother. A nursing kitten instinctually kneads to help stimulate the mother’s milk production. While it is certainly common among kittens to knead, not all cats keep doing it as they get older. When cats knead a warm, soft surface, such as laundry or bedding fresh from the dryer, it is because they associate the soft warmth with the comfort of nursing. Why do they continue to knead past kitten-hood? Older cats associate the motion of kneading with that memory which brings them joy.

Cats knead to show affection

If your cat is curled up and kneads on you while you’re petting your kitty, it’s returning the affection and telling you it loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier kitty gets, the harder kitty will dig in with it’s sharp claws or push deeper and deeper. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or your tender body part… or gently place kitty on it’s back and pet the belly if it all gets too intense. Kneading can also be a cat’s way of marking the surface it kneads. Human, I mark you are mine. This is because the kneading action activates scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottoms of kitty’s paws.

Sucking, or “Wool Sucking”

The act of a kitten or cat sucking on fabric of some kind is actually known in the Cat World as “wool sucking”. Some cats will choose clothing, bedding or another fabric item belonging to the person to whom they are most attached or bonded. If you leave your closet door open when not at home, you may find all your socks, or underwear carried and dropped in locations all over your home. Always a fun find when you first get home or those times you have unexpected guests. Note to self: keep closet door shut and underwear in closed drawer or closed hamper. Cats who engage in wool sucking tend to be those who were weaned prematurely. They suck on soft fabrics to soothe stress or anxiety or to relieve boredom. Additionally, if your cat sucks on your clothing while on your lap or bedding while on your bed, kitty is expressing affection for you. Basically, you have become kitty’s parent. Wool sucking is far less common than kneading, but both are a form of expressing affection in the Cat World. Consider yourself blessed… although it is a curse to your favorite sweater.

Cats love to stretch – kneading is just another way to do so

Cats are natural born stretchers and a routine we humans should all learn from. They love to work out all the muscle kinks left over from napping. Kneading is just another way to stretch out those long arms and paws, until that next nap.

Cats knead as way to soften up a comfortable bed

Cats in the wild like to lay down on a soft, comfortable surfaces to either sleep or give birth. By kneading down tall grass or leaves, cats are able to rearrange and soften up a comfy spot to lay down on and also clear off the surface of unwanted pests under foliage. You might see your kitty kneading on it’s bed or your bed before lying down, doing so, relaxes muscles, prepares the bed with kitty’s scent and makes sure all those lumps are worked out and ready for yet another nap.

All this talk of napping has made me tired too, how about you? Go find your cat… take your paws (fingers) and knead on kitty’s side… once you hear purring, it’s time for both of you to get some Zzzzzzzzzzz’s.

Kneaders and Deep Diggers

No nap for you? All that kneading, sometimes transfers to the litter box. You may find you have a deep digger, a cat that digs to China and flings litter all over the place before “going”. If you find more litter on the floor than in the litter pan you should take a few minutes and visit my website. My Out of Sight Litter Box cabinet with it’s two included High-Sider litter boxes will stop all that litter mess, and the cabinet is designed to stop litter tracking. No more wasting time cleaning up litter from all over your home. A few minutes reviewing my website will save you hours of time sweeping or vacuuming. www.outofsightlitterbox.com

* I use the word "stop(s)" to describe the difference (before to after) that my Out of Sight Litter Box will have on your litter tracking issues.
A legal definition might better be "will substantially reduce litter tacking by 98%". You may find a few pieces of rogue litter here or there, but you will notice such a substantial difference
that you too might use the word "Stopped" while telling your friends how the Out of Sight Litter Box changed your litter tracking issues.

Back to Top