Cats have their cat character. Some are more affectionate, others less. Just as it happens with people, some show more affection, while others are more self-conscious and prefer not to express signs of affection.
Oh, but when a cat is affectionate, how affectionate it is! And he shows us day by day with each of his actions.
One of these caring behaviors is kneading. This movement of its legs, in which we see how it opens its fingers by stretching them and then closing them, even sometimes while purring, they can do it on us or on blankets, cushions, pillows…
Why do cats knead?
The beginning of the kneading begins in the neonatal period , that is, after birth. And they do it at the time of suckling from their mother to stimulate the production of colostrum and later milk from the breasts.
The stimulation in the formation of milk in females has several mechanisms, one of them, and the one that matters to us at this point with the kneading, is precisely these movements. When the kittens make these movements and suck the milk, the production of breast milk is stimulated at the central level.
When kittens are weaned, and begin to eat solid food on their own, they may lose this behavior. Those who maintain it do so for different reasons
- To show comfort. Cats, when they are comfortable in a place, begin to knead that place. It can be the sofa, if they are lying on it, or our legs or arms if they are lying on us.
- To make your resting place more comfortable . When a cat looks for a place to lie down to rest, it begins to knead the area to make it more fluffy. It is thought that the ancestors of wild cats did the same thing, to make the grass where they were going to lie down softer and more comfortable for their rest.
- To mark the territory. Cats relate to each other through different signals, including olfactory ones, which are pheromones. Cats release these pheromones, among other ways, through scratching and from glands found in their paw pads.
This behavior is totally natural in cats. So much so that the English have a specific word for this behavior. Kneading, which we translate as kneading.
What to do when your cat kneads you?
First of all, enjoy it!
If your cat is kneading you, it means that he is very happy in your arms or legs. Let him prove it to you and enjoy with him.
Yes indeed! One recommendation is that you keep their nails short to prevent them from inadvertently hurting you with the kneading. When kneading they stretch the phalanges and the nails, and when closing them they also close the nails, so they can stick into your skin. Remember that they do this unintentionally, so the best way to avoid harming us is precisely by keeping their nails at a good length. With this you will also prevent it from getting caught in different areas of the house and hurting itself, or breaking some parts of the fabric, for example.
If the kneading does it in areas of the sofa where you don’t want it to, you can try to change its focus of attention. Especially if you’re doing it to score. If he does it to be comfortable, my advice is to put a blanket, or fabric on the sofa that you don’t mind if it tears.
If he is marking, to try to change the focus of attention, you can offer a toy or treats, and try to do another behavior such as teaching him to sit or give his paw.
It is very important to keep in mind that we should not scold the cat under any circumstances . Doing so can provoke an aggressive reaction against us. That is why it is so important to learn the techniques to change focus and distraction, which we veterinarians who are dedicated to feline behavior teach.
Finally, something that should not be done is the declawing of cats. Desungular consists of removing the last phalanx to remove the nails. That is, if we look at our hands, it would be amputating the last part of our fingers, where the nails are.
This surgery, apart from being an atrocity for the cat, can lead to many subsequent behavioral problems in cats. They communicate, among other things, through scratching. And not only do they use their nails to scratch, but they also use them to climb, after using the litter box to hide feces and step on them, even to scratch themselves if it itches. So it is a surgery, which in addition to being prohibited in many places, from here we strongly discourage it.