Do you ever find yourself marveling at the sight of your cat kneading and biting its blanket? It’s undeniably adorable and never fails to elicit a coo of admiration. But have you ever wondered why cats engage in this endearing behavior? While the popular belief attributes it to a kitten’s instinct to stimulate milk production in their mother, there is actually more to it than meets the eye. Let’s delve deeper into the captivating world of cats and discover the five compelling reasons behind their kneading and biting tendencies.
What Is Kneading?
When a cat sits atop its blanket and begins “pawing” at it, that’s kneading. It’s a sight to behold, as they skillfully alternate pressure from paw to paw, seemingly softening the fabric beneath them. Some even refer to this amusing behavior as “making bread.” During kneading, cats also extend and retract their claws, creating a rhythmic motion. This delightful ritual is often accompanied by biting or sucking on the blanket, adding an extra touch of charm to the spectacle.
Blanket Considerations: When Biting Isn’t Just Biting
While biting the blanket during kneading is generally harmless, it’s essential to pay attention to the intensity and behavior of your cat. If you notice that your cat is not merely biting, but tearing at the fabric or consuming bits of it, it could be a cause for concern. Ingesting materials from blankets or garments can pose health hazards and may indicate underlying issues such as misplaced aggression, stress, or a condition called pica.
What Is Pica?
Feline pica is a condition characterized by the consumption of non-food items, such as fabric or common household objects. Experts suggest that this behavior may stem from dietary deficiencies, anxiety, improper weaning, or even compulsive disorders. It’s crucial to address these concerns promptly, as ingestion of indigestible objects or toxic substances can have serious consequences. Consulting with a vet is essential to ensure your cat’s well-being and taking precautions to prevent access to potentially dangerous items.
Other Oral and Dental Issues
Similar to puppies, biting and chewing in cats may be related to teething or dental problems. Irritation, itching, or infection in the teeth or oral area can lead to excessive biting. If you observe persistent or aggressive biting behavior, it’s wise to take a closer look and consider seeking professional dental examination and care for your feline companion. Regular dental check-ups can help maintain your cat’s oral health and detect any underlying issues.
A Note on Allergies & Bacteria
Allergies can also play a role in your cat’s blanket-biting tendencies. Some fibers may contain particles or substances that trigger allergic reactions in cats. Allergic responses can lead to gum irritation, prompting cats to chew on blankets to relieve pain. Keeping your cat’s favorite blanket clean is essential to prevent the growth of bacteria. Regularly washing the blanket, ideally once a week, can minimize the risk of illness. If you suspect your cat may be allergic to the blanket, consider using a hypoallergenic alternative. However, keep in mind that your cat may take some time to adjust to a new blanket due to the attachment they have to their current one.
Why do Cats Knead and Bite Blankets? 5 Reasons
Now that we’ve explored some of the underlying factors, let’s delve into the main reasons behind cats’ kneading and biting behaviors. Beyond the instinctual need to stimulate milk production, cats knead for various reasons, including territorial claims, natural wild behavior, nursing memories, trust-building, and relaxation.
1. Territorial Claims
Cats are known for their territorial nature, and kneading provides an opportunity for them to mark their favorite spot. Cats possess special scent glands in their paws that release a unique scent during kneading. By kneading on a beloved piece of fabric, they leave their mark and assert ownership over their chosen territory.
2. Natural Wild Behavior
One theory suggests that kneading is a behavior deeply rooted in cats’ wild ancestry. In the wild, cats may have instinctively leveled or softened the ground before resting or sleeping. This primal behavior could explain why cats continue to knead even in domestic settings.
3. Nursing Memories
Nursing, or the memory of it, plays a significant role in cats’ kneading behavior. Behaviorists propose that cats separated from their mothers too early may attempt to recreate the sensation of nursing on a surface resembling their mother’s warm belly. Biting is part of this behavior, as it replicates the feeling of being close to their mother.
4. Trusted Companions
When your cat chooses to knead you or its fluffy blanket in your presence, it’s a sign of trust. Cats are keenly aware of their surroundings and appreciate the comfort and security provided by their trusted companions. As they settle down for a nap or relaxing moment, kneading the blanket aids in creating a calming environment.
5. Relaxation & Anxiety Management
Cats naturally remain vigilant during sleep due to their survival instincts. Kneading has been observed to help cats relax and prepare for a restful state. This behavior, combined with purring, helps to alleviate anxiety. Blankets, with their soft and warm texture, evoke memories of the safety and comfort experienced during kittenhood, further enhancing the relaxation process. That’s why videos of cats kneading their pet friends, such as dogs, are so popular—they find solace in these comforting rituals.
Should You Stop the Behavior?
Unless your cat exhibits excessive biting or consumes the blanket, there is typically no need for concern. The kneading behavior itself poses no harm and can persist into adulthood without adverse effects. Instead, view it as a heartwarming sign that your cat is comfortable and content in your presence. However, if you have any concerns about your cat’s behavior, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian for guidance and reassurance.
Final Thoughts on Why Cats Knead and Bite Blankets
The act of kneading is rooted in a multitude of reasons, ranging from territorial claims to seeking trust and comfort. It may be an inherited genetic trait, but it also serves as a calming mechanism for cats. Witnessing your cat settle into a cozy spot on the bed or couch, engaging in their kneading ritual, is a true delight. So, as long as it brings joy to your feline friend, embrace the snuggles and cherish these precious moments. And remember, if you decide to purchase any products mentioned in this article, Katten TrimSalon has got you covered!