Cats are fascinating creatures with their peculiar behavior that always keeps us entertained. One of their most adorable and endearing habits is kneading, where they rhythmically push their paws in and out against a soft surface. This behavior can be seen in cats of all ages, from kittens to senior felines, and it's not just limited to domestic cats, but also wild ones. While kneading is a cute and comforting sight for cat lovers, the question arises, why do cats knead?
There are several theories about why cats knead, but here are the most commonly accepted ones:
1. Marking Territory
Cats have scent glands in their paws that release a unique scent when they knead. This scent marks their territory and communicates with other cats. Kneading might be a way for cats to show ownership or mark their favorite spots, such as their beds or their humans. This behavior is often accompanied by purring, which also serves as a sign of contentment.
2. Comfort and Relaxation
Kneading is a natural instinct that starts when kittens are nursing. The rhythmic motion of pressing their paws against their mother's belly stimulates milk flow, which helps them feed. As they grow up, cats continue to knead as a form of self-soothing and relaxation. Kneading also releases endorphins, which can help cats feel calmer and more relaxed.
3. Stretching and Exercise
Cats are known for their flexibility and agility, and kneading may be a way for them to stretch and exercise their muscles. The act of pressing their paws against a soft surface engages their claws and forelimb muscles, which can help keep them strong and limber. Kneading might also help cats relieve tension and improve blood flow to their paws.
4. Affection and Bonding
Cats are social animals that enjoy physical contact and affection from their humans. Kneading may be a way for them to show their love and affection. When a cat kneads, they release endorphins, which create feelings of pleasure and happiness. This can strengthen the bond between a cat and its human, making them feel more relaxed and connected.
Cats knead for a variety of reasons, including marking their territory, comfort and relaxation, stretching and exercise, and affection and bonding. While we may never fully understand why cats do what they do, we can appreciate their quirks and enjoy the comfort and companionship they bring to our lives.
The term "making biscuits" is a colloquial and whimsical way to describe the behavior of cat kneading. When cats knead, they push their paws in and out against a soft surface, alternating between left and right. This action resembles the motion of kneading dough or making bread, which is why it is sometimes referred to as "making biscuits."
The term "making biscuits" likely originated from the visual similarity between a cat's kneading motion and the way a baker kneads and works dough to make biscuits or bread. It's a playful and endearing way to describe this behavior, as it conjures up images of a cat engaging in a similar activity in a lighthearted manner.