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Why Do Cats Knead?

Treasure this sign of affection from your pet, recommends a feline behaviorist.

Q. Why does my cat, Kelso, like to knead my neck or on top of my head? Some say cats don’t love, but I take this as a sign of love from him. Or is this a way that he’s showing domination?

Pam Johnson-Bennett explains the meaning behind kneadingFeline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat, says: Who in the world told you that cats don’t love? That person was way off the mark.

Your cat’s kneading behavior is sign of contentment and affection. It’s a throwback to kittenhood where a kitten would knead the queen’s teat in order to stimulate lactation. In adult cats, they often knead (otherwise known as the milk tread) when they are on a soft, warm material and feel very comfortable and safe. It is a loving, precious gesture and although it can sometimes hurt if a cat’s claws haven’t been trimmed lately, I consider it to be one of the sweetest displays of affection.

Best,
Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC
IAABC-Certified Animal Behavior Consultant

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Behavior and Training · Cats