Why do cats knead? This is a curious behaviour that only cats perform. It’s called kneading because it looks similar to a person kneading dough. Your cat may be sitting on your lap and starts to press it’s front paws into your legs in a kneading motion. This can be painful if it’s claws are out.
It shouldn’t be discouraged though, as your cat is showing you that she loves you and feels close to you. If she digs her claws into you while kneading, just put a cloth on your lap to protect your legs.
When kittens are born they instinctively knead the mother cat’s teats to get milk. This behaviour may be carried on into adulthood, and the reason that they knead their human parent is that they are happy and it’s a way of showing affection. They will often purr at the same time, and this can be very relaxing. If you are feeling stressed and suffer from high blood pressure, just stroking a cat or letting it knead on your lap can help you relax.
Why do cats knead blankets, cushions, or any other bedding before settling down? This is a way of making it more comfortable for themselves, like nesting. Humans plump up pillows before settling down to sleep, cats knead their bedding instead.
Cats have scent glands in the pads on their feet and one reason why cats knead is to rub their scent into the object to claim it as part of their territory.
Other animals in the area will smell this scent and know that this particular blanket, or other object is taken. Rubbing themselves against you, and kneading you is also a way of claiming you as part of their territory.
Occasionally some cats, Siamese in particular may start to chew the blanket or bedding while they are kneading.