Why Do Cats Open and Close Their Paws?

By Phil / November 17, 2017
Why Do Cats Open and Close Their Paws

One of the cat behaviors that often confuses new owners is when they keep opening and closing their paws.

This is called – Kneading.

When a cat is kneading it does look like they are just opening and closing their claws. Kind of like they are kneading something – hence why it’s called kneading.

Cats start kneading within a few weeks of being born. It’s an action they do to massage milk from their mothers and is an action that comes to them naturally.

So while it’s completely normal for kittens to knead on their mother’s tummies when they are feeding, why do kittens and older cats knead on their owners, blankets, and other random places?

I can explain!

Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?

If your cat kneads on you, you should consider yourself lucky. It’s really a strong sign that they love you and feel comfortable in your company.

Little consolation when their razor-sharp claws are digging into your skin, right?

Try and place a towel or something similar where they are kneading rather than stopping them if you can.

Never tell them off for kneading as it’s a natural action and is showing you that your cat is happy and comfortable in their home and around you.

Why Do Cats Knead Blankets?

If you cat kneads a blanket, rug, or some other item made of a soft fabric there are a few potential reasons for this:

Marking with their scent – Cats leave their scent wherever they go to make other cats aware of their presence and mark stuff as theirs.

The feel reminds them of their mother – As discussed above, the main reason cats knead is to massage the flow of milk from their mother’s as kittens.

The feel of the blanket or clothing they are kneading might remind them of a similar feel so it’s just an instinctive action.

They are preparing a bed – Some cats use a kneading action on an area of material before they sleep on it, kind of like preparing their bed and shaping it how they want.

They are showing love – Kneading is often a sign that they feel comfortable and safe. Get close and you’ll probably hear your cat purring as they knead a blanket, just give them some time to enjoy themselves and don’t disturb them.