Why Do Cats Knead and Rub Against Us?

As adorable and high-spirited as cats can be, they exhibit many intriguing behaviours that don’t always seem to make too much sense to us as humans. We deep-dive into our favourite feline’s peculiar habits, what these instinctive behaviours mean, and why they are so important.

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Why Do Cats Knead?


There’s no doubt that cats are fascinating creatures, and one of their unique and baffling traits is kneading. Cats knead by rhythmically motioning their paws up and down, left to right, generally against an object or another animal (including us!). Believe it or not, cats all have their own techniques when it comes to kneading – some use claws, some don’t, and others will just use their front paws, while several will use all four. Given the movement of how cats knead, it is also comically referred to as “making biscuits” because the action looks like they are kneading dough.


So, why do cats knead their paws? Cats knead for a number of reasons, with the evolutionary background of kneading starting when they are just tiny kittens. When kittens suckle from their mother, they simultaneously knead her body which helps stimulate the milk supply through the release of oxytocin. As a cat's paw pads have scent glands, the kitten can also communicate with the mother cat by kneading, which releases pheromones that can deliver chemical and tactile messages and are essential for bonding.


  • Why Do Cats Knead Blankets?

Kneading is another way for cats to convey comfort and the reason why cats knead on blankets, pillows and other soft objects. While kneading is an instinctive behaviour developed by kittens to stimulate milk supply and deliver messages, it’s still a common trait in adult cats as they forever associate the motion of kneading with nursing. It is also another way for cats to communicate messages and alleviate stress.


  • Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?

If you’re wondering why cats knead on you, it’s for the same purpose – to display their comfort and affection. It’s your cat’s way of saying that you’re accepted and that your presence brings pleasure.


  • Why Do Cats Knead Me?

Another reason why cats knead you or other objects is to stretch their muscles or to mark their territory using the scent glands on their paw pads.


  • Why Do Cats Knead Before Sleeping?

Cats knead before sleeping to create an ideal resting place. Like how we fluff our pillows and dogs turn in circles before lying down, cats like to prepare their area by kneading before sleeping, which is generally why cats knead blankets before lying down. This behaviour goes back to wild feline ancestors, especially when making a nest to give birth or preparing for heat.


  • Why Do Cats Knead on Your Chest?

The reason why is heart-warming – cats knead on your chest to display an intense form of love and affection. They’re showing you they feel safe and comfortable. Yes, it may be an alternate way for your cat to activate the scent glands in their paws, thus marking you as their territory, but there’s still a strong sense of fondness all the same.


  • Why Do Cats Purr and Knead?

Cats normally purr when they’re content – happy, comfortable and feeling safe. They say it’s a way for cats to “send out waves of calmness”. So, if your cat purrs and kneads at the same time, it’s a sign they feel happy in their environment. Some cats will almost go into a trance or drool when this happens, as they’re so relaxed.

why do cats rub against our legs

Why Do Cats Rub Against You?


As if our feline friends weren’t quirky enough, they also have another inherent behaviour – rubbing. Have you ever wondered why cats rub against you or why do cats rub against things? Like other animals, cats communicate using covert signals, and this is one of them. While we may enjoy this close interaction with our, let’s face it, temperamental houseguests, do you know what messages they are trying to convey?


  • Why Do Cats Rub Against Your Legs?

There are three main reasons why cats rub against your legs: claiming you through scent or attention and affection. As cats rely heavily on their sense of smell, rubbing against you allows them to transfer their scent and claim ownership of you. Weaving through your legs is also an effective way for cats to successfully gain your attention and mark their scent, particularly at feeding time. Additionally, cats can rub against your legs to greet you and express adoration.


  • Why Do Cats Rub Their Face on Things?

It’s safe to say that anyone who’s ever interacted with a cat has seen them rub their face on something. It’s typical cat behaviour – and while it’s adorable to watch, there’s a reason behind every rub.


Cats have scent glands on their chin, cheeks, forehead, sides of the nose, under the jaw, above the mouth, over the eyes, between the ears and at the base of their tail, and like the scent glands on the paw pads, they release pheromones. When cats rub their scent glands against humans, other animals or objects, they release these pheromones, providing ample information about them and marking their territory at the same time. Leaving behind their scent isn’t the only reason why cats rub their faces on things, though. Another reason why cats rub their face on you is to show affection or as a greeting. Cats will also rub their face on things to get your attention, relieve stress and as a way to mark their territory to feel safe and familiar with a new environment.


  • Why Do Cats Rub Against You and Then Bite?

There are a few reasons why your cat may rub against you and then bite, but it isn’t all bad. Occasionally, it may be due to scent marking and claiming their territory, but if you’re enjoying a nice cuddle or pat with your cat and they rub against you and then bite, take it as an unexpected compliment. Known as a love bite, cats can gently bite you as a way to show affection – it’s believed to increase endorphins, which help them with stress and promotes happiness.


However, if your cat is biting out of habit, showing redirected aggression or demonstrating any signs of pain, we recommend investigating these issues further.

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In Summary:

The reasons why cats knead and rub against us certainly provide some interesting and admittingly surprising answers, as well as open up a whole new way for us to determine what our furry felines are trying to communicate. Why do cats knead blankets? Why do cats knead their owners? Why do cats rub against your legs? Why do cats rub against you and then bite? These are all habitual behaviours our cats have instinctively developed as a way to connect and converse with their surroundings. Each action is methodically planned to aid in their survival and overall comfort.

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