Skip to main content

Why do cats make biscuits? Here’s why your cat kneads

Cat kneading might look strange, but it has a simple explanation

A cat lies on her back kneading
Ludemeula Fernandes / Unsplash

The list of the most adorable things your cat does would have to include purring, meowing, and kneading. But while the first two have obvious causes, you might not fully understand why your kitty makes biscuits. Like so many aspects of pet ownership, you have to look at both the circumstances and your individual animal to get to the bottom of their instincts. The next time you wonder, “Why do cats make biscuits?” — think about their surroundings and nature to figure it out.

What is kneading?

This cat move gets its name because it looks like kneading dough or making biscuits. Generally, cats alternate between their two paws pushing against a soft surface. Not every feline will gravitate to this behavior, and it’s a little different for each animal. Be mindful — for some cats, humans are the ideal kneading target. As usual, it all comes down to context, which means you need to pay attention to their knead to determine your cat’s inner feelings.

Close-up of a cat lying on a couch, kneading the cushion
Republica / Pixabay

Why do cats make biscuits?

Kneading can have a few different underlying causes, but many of them are about seeking happiness or contentment. However, occasionally, this action indicates something else.

Comfort

Does your kitty cat exclusively knead around and on you? That might say that they think you’re comforting and soft. Careful though, pets can have sharp claws, so if you have a biscuit maker, get them trimmed by the vet.

Instinct

Most likely, your furry friend picked this up as a baby. Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior consultant, says, “It’s a likely throwback to happy behavior from the days of kittenhood. Kneading is what kittens do when they are nursing to encourage the release of milk from Mom.”

Relaxation

When they’re extra chill, you might wind up getting pummeled. Remember that your animal’s behavior can be controlled with proper training. While it could be instinctual and a source of comfort, you can teach your pet not to knead on you by carefully not rewarding the behavior and redirecting as necessary when they attempt to rub you like dough.

Heat

If your animal has not been fixed, making biscuits could be a sign that they want a bun in the oven. This action could also be accompanied by spraying. Similarly, during pregnancy, excessive kneading can indicate that labor is approaching and you’re about to have kittens.

Marking

Lastly, just like dogs, cats have scent glands in their paws, so they scratch or knead to release their particular aroma. The goal here could be to designate their territory or claim you in particular, especially if there are other beasts in the home.

Cat behavior can be difficult to decipher because it’s quite different from humans or even other pets. That means it takes a bit of focus to understand why your cat might decide to knead you or their surroundings. There could be a few different explanations; however, once you figure out your four-legged friend, you’ll have a much better idea of what motivates her to make biscuits or any other adorable cat actions that keep us committed to our pets.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
Why cats arch their backs (it’s not always aggression)
There are several reasons for this normal cat behavior
Tabby cat arching their back

Cat owners and non-owners alike have seen the famous Halloween symbol of a black cat with their back arched and hairs raised. The accompanying yowl can be heard in just about every Halloween movie ever made, but it's entirely different when a cat arches their back in real life. In books and movies, though, cats only seem to arch their backs out of aggression or fear. It's almost never a good thing!

However, a cat's arched back can mean many different things. True, it can be a fear reaction or an attempt at threatening another cat, but it can also be a reaction to completely normal, nonchalant things. These are the most common reasons why a cat might arch their back.
A cat's arched back can be a sign of aggression or defensiveness

Read more
Can cats see in the dark? We separate fact from fiction
Cats have night vision far superior than our own, but they still need light to see
A cat stares into the camera

When something goes bump in the night, you might wake up in a panic, only to realize it's just the cat. These beasties are well known for being up and about in the wee hours of the morning, ready to play, hunt, and eat. While it's true that cats love nighttime, they aren't actually nocturnal. Instead, they exist in an in-between state as crepuscular, meaning your feline will love dusk and dawn most. So, if they aren't actually night owls, can cats see in the dark? We break down what cat vision really looks like.
Can cats see in the dark?

Almost all of us can see something in the dark, but night vision varies considerably among different animals. Owls have particularly good night vision, while humans less so. Cats see about six times better than people at night, which helps them hunt successfully at twilight, in the wild, or from your backyard. But it's inaccurate to say they can see in pure darkness. Instead, kitties have special eyes that allow them to observe a lot more in low light. These are the three main ways cats see better at night.
Smart design
Cat eyes look totally different from human ones, and they are. Feline orbs have special qualities designed to help them hunt in near darkness, such as a curved cornea and large lens (we'll get into what's up with the pupils next). You may have heard of rods and cones, the parts of the eye that help us see light and color, among other things. Our furry friends have more rods and so see more light, and therefore, need less of it (by contrast, we have more cones and observe more colors). Lastly, cats have something called a tapetum that reflects light to the retina. While you may never have heard this term, you've definitely witnessed it in action — this is why cat eyes glow in the dark.
Pupil dilation
When the lights go off, our pupils get bigger, and it's the same with cats. However, our pet's pupils can go from a small vertical slit to a massive globe. As the eye grows larger, it does lose some clarity, otherwise you might expect to find your animal's eyes constantly at full blast. Generally, during the day, their pupils will show up as a thin line for maximum focus and then dilate as needed in dim-light situations. And the growth is an enormous difference, up to 300 times the size of their eye at its smallest.
Myopia
Myopia is the fancy word for near-sightedness or the ability to see up close but not far away. Many humans wear glasses to improve their vision, but unfortunately, cats don't ever see as well as we do at a distance. The little buds have a wider frame of vision, but everything would look a bit blurry if you adopted their eyes temporarily. In a competition for who can spot a tiny movement, like prey burrowing in the grass, the cat would win.
How cats see the world around us

Read more
Why do cats like boxes so much? It’s not just because they’re weird
Why are some cats obsessed with cardboard boxes?
Cat sitting inside of a cardboard box

Cat owners have all been there: You order your cat a new cat bed, cat tree, or other item that comes packed in a box. When you unpack the item, your cat inevitably plays with the box more than he uses the item that came with it. This adoration of boxes is plenty common in cats, but it also seems a little odd.

Boxes are basic; there's nothing especially exciting about them — or at least that's what you might think. To your cat, however, boxes are tempting for many reasons, and they're the perfect space to explore, sleep, and play in. But let's dive in deeper: Why do cats like boxes, exactly?

Read more