Why Do Cats Make Biscuits?

Cats "make biscuits" (knead with their paws) as a comfort behavior from kittenhood, to mark territory, and prepare sleeping areas.

Understanding Cat Kneading

Cat kneading, often referred to as “making biscuits,” is fascinating and sheds light on both the comfort-seeking and instinctual aspects of cat behavior.

Instinctual Roots of Kneading

From an instinctual standpoint, kneading is traced back to wild ancestors of today’s domesticated felines.

Kneading behavior in wild cats is often associated with preparing a soft bed or territory marking with the scent glands in their paws.

Kneading as a Comforting Behavior

For many cats, kneading is a source of comfort.

The motion of their paws pressing rhythmically is reminiscent of the actions kittens perform to stimulate milk flow from their mother’s mammary glands.

This soothing motion often persists into adulthood, indicating it’s a pleasant and nurturing experience.

Kneading in Kittens vs. Adult Cats

Kittens begin to knead as soon as they are nursing, using their tiny paws to stimulate the milk flow.

This evolutionary behavior carries into adulthood, although the reasons for kneading may evolve with age, often reflecting deep-seated comfort or contentment rather than the need for milk.

The Physical and Emotional Aspects of Kneading

A cat's paws press into a soft surface, rhythmically kneading.</p><p>Its eyes half-closed, content and relaxed, whiskers twitching with each gentle movement

The rhythmic motion of cat kneading, often referred to as making biscuits, is both a physical activity deeply rooted in feline instinct and an emotional display that signals contentment.

This section explores the fascinating layers of meaning behind each press of a cat’s paws.

Pheromones and Scent Marking

Cats possess scent glands in their paws, and when they knead, these glands release pheromones.

This subtle action is a way for cats to mark their territory, embedding their own individual scent into an area.

This behavior is quite natural and ties back to their wild ancestors.

Kneading for Comfort and Security

Kneading can be a source of immense comfort for cats.

It’s often associated with the memories of nursing and the security they felt as kittens.

Additionally, a purring cat while kneading is a signal of happiness and contentment.

It’s a self-soothing behavior that indicates a cat feels safe and in a peaceful state.

Health Indicators and Kneading Frequency

Regular kneading is a typical behavior for domestic cats, but when this activity becomes excessive, it might be a cue for owners to consult a veterinarian.

Changes in kneading habits can signify pain or discomfort, and a vet may help determine if the behavior is a symptom of a physical ailment.

Observing and understanding the frequency of kneading combined with other behaviours like scratching can offer insights into a cat’s overall well-being.

Interactions Between Cats and Their Environment

Cats kneading on a soft blanket in a sunlit room, surrounded by potted plants and a cozy cat tree

Cats have a fascinating range of behaviors that reflect their interaction with their surroundings, such as kneading or “making biscuits,” which serves multiple purposes like expressing affection and marking territory.

Kneading to Express Affection and Territoriality

Cats knead by rhythmically pushing their paws in and out against a soft surface, a behavior kittens show when nursing to stimulate milk flow.

As cats mature, this comforting action becomes a way for them to express their affection towards their owners or represent a display of their territory.

The scent glands located in their paws leave an olfactory mark on the kneaded area, indicating their presence to other cats.

This satisfaction of both emotional and territorial needs strengthens the bond they have with their environment and their humans.

Choosing Surfaces and Objects for Kneading

Finding the perfect spot is crucial for cats when they decide to make biscuits.

They often opt for surfaces that provide them with a sense of safety and security.

A soft blanket, plump cushions, or the plush fabric of furniture can turn into a kneading centerstage.

These soft surfaces are not chosen at random.

They mimic the supportive yet yielding texture of a mother cat’s belly, offering a blend of comfort and security that cats seek.

When you see a cat pressing its paws into your lap, it’s not only finding physical comfort but also reinforcing a deep-seated sense of bonding and trust with you.