Why do cats knead?

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Kneading is a common behaviour seen in domestic cats sometimes called “kneading dough” or “making biscuits”, in which the feline pushes in and out with its front paws, alternating between left and right. The motion is usually performed on soft surfaces, other animals and even people.

The most popular explanation states that kneading is a leftover behaviour from kitten hood. During nursing, a kitten will knead the area around its mother’s teat to promote milk flow therefore an adult cat supposedly will knead when it is feeling happy or content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mother. Some cats even suckle on the surface they are kneading. Another theory suggests that kneading heeds back to a time before domestication, when wild cats patted down foliage to make a soft surface for sleeping or giving birth. On the other hand, kneading may just be another way for cats to scent and claim an area since they have scent glands in their paws.