Why Do Cats Knead And Bite Blankets? The Truth Revealed

I bet you’ve often watched your cat spend some time kneading and biting blankets as if there is no tomorrow. It’s quite entertaining and funny at times. But you may also find yourself puzzled and confused. What is it about blankets, and other objects, that make them do this?

Why do cats knead and bite blankets? Today, we’re going to find out why. 

Let’s get started. 

Why do cats knead and bite blankets?

Cats kneading and biting blankets doesn’t mean they’ve gone crazy. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal behavior. For them, kneading is an activity that relaxes and soothes them. In other words, kneading makes them feel safe and secure. It gives a feeling of warmth and familiarity. 

Don’t believe me? Watch your cat as it kneads and you will notice that it will purr contentedly. Some cats even drift off into sleep. Others simply zone out and enjoy the motion. That’s how satisfying kneading is to them. 

For female cats, kneading has another meaning. When they purr, stretch their limbs, and knead the air while lying on their side, it means they are sending a signal to male cats that they can approach for possible mating.

Biting and licking on soft blankets is also a common comforting behavior among kittens which they continue into adulthood. Aside from being a soothing habit, did you know that this is how they play? You can also say that it’s a way of training for them. Kittens bite on blankets to learn how hard they can nibble and bite. With humans, we refer to this as baby teething. 

Male cats in particular are fond of biting on blankets because they associate it with pleasure. When mating, male cats gently bite the neck of a female. It’s a form of intimacy between them. Meanwhile, cats nibble at blankets playfully because it resembles a cat’s soft fur.

Cat in blankets

What does kneading mean?

When we say kneading, the first thought that comes to mind is bakers kneading dough, right? Well, it’s much the same way with cats. In fact, kneading among cats is referred to as “making biscuits.”

Usually, cats use their forepaws for kneading, while others use all four paws. It actually depends on the cat. 

When cats knead, they push their claws, fingers, and paws in and out against a soft surface, alternating between left and right. This creates a rhythm.

This kneading motion most likely originated from their behavior when they were kittens. As kittens, it was instinctive for them to knead on their mother’s belly while sucking for milk. This close connection to their mother is not only a comforting behavior for baby cats but also stimulates milk production, which gives them the food they need. 

When the kitten becomes a cat, this kneading behavior is repeated with blankets, or whatever, or whoever the cat takes a liking to. As with their mother, the cat wants to establish a connection with the object it’s kneading.

Aside from this, cats knead to spread their scent and mark their territory. They do this through the scent glands on their paw pads. They release the scent by excreting it from their paws. 

You can often see them doing this when there are two or more cats in a household. Each cat is telling the others that “this is mine,” that the object is its “possession.”

If your cat is kneading a blanket and purring, that means it’s happy and content. This also means that the particular blanket has a familiar scent with which it is comfortable. That scent may be yours, or another feline. So there’s nothing to worry about because it means the motion creates happy connections to your cat’s mind.

Can there be too much kneading?

A cat’s kneading behavior is a natural instinct that will likely last throughout its life, and should not be any cause for concern. However, you should be on the lookout for what objects you allow your cat to knead, as well as some behaviors that may be considered excessive.

Don’t let your cat knead on anything dangerous that may cause them harm. For example, don’t let them knead on electric wires or power cords, plastic bags, or shoe laces. Obviously, these may lead to electrocution or swallowing plastic materials or strings.

You should also observe if your cat increases its kneading at home after being left alone for some time. This means it is stressed and needs quality time with you. You can play with them, cuddle, brush their fur, or simply hold them and talk in soft tones.

Cat on a blue striped blanket

Can I stop my cat from kneading?

A cat’s habit of kneading may become annoying over time, especially if it reaches the point where they tend to destroy things around the house. If you want to stop your cat from kneading and biting, you should train it.

One way of training cats to stop biting is applying something foul-tasting or foul-smelling to the object or thing. Because cats hate the smell of citrus, lemon or lime juices can work. Experts are not very keen on recommending this, though, because this may cause your cat undue stress and anxiety. Doing this may lead to aggressive behavior as it tries to manage its emotions.

A much better way is through replacement. You can replace the object with another thing that carries your scent. In this way, you are offering them an alternative to their previously preferred object, and your cat will still draw comfort from it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you stop your cat kneading and biting?

Kneading and biting may seem like normal behaviors in cats, but they can become uncomfortable and annoying. When should you stop your cat from kneading and biting? 

Here are some of the situations where you should put your foot down:

  1. When adult cats exhibit aggressive kneading behavior by focusing on your favorite blanket or furniture, causing it to tear or break
  2. When they knead with their claws out, causing harm to you and your family, or even another animal
  3. When they swallow or eat non-food items which can lead to health-related issues in their digestive tract

Do kneading and biting mean something’s wrong with my cat?

While the habits of kneading and biting are perfectly normal instinctive behaviors, too much can show signs of psychological issues. 

If your cat is overeating, and then constantly sucks blankets, this suggests an anxiety disorder. For situations such as this, it is best to seek advice from a vet.

Why do cats knead blankets before lying down?

You may have observed your cat knead its favorite blanket before lying down. This behavior is explained as a wild trait that has been passed down from your cat’s ancestors. 

Wild cats paw at piles of leaves or tall grass in an effort to create a nest for themselves and their young to relax and sleep in. This is much the same as the way humans fluff pillows before going to sleep. 

Why do cats knead before sleeping?

Another feline behavior you might observe with your pet cat is when it kneads on its bed before sleeping. This motion gives them a sense of comfort. This also means that they are checking for dangerous objects hidden within their safe sleeping space.

Will my cat stop kneading when it grows up?

Kneading and biting are both natural behaviors for cats. Some outgrow the kneading habit. The majority of cats do not. Either way, it’s no cause for worry.

Why do cats knead and bite me?

Cats knead and bite you for two reasons: your cat wants to get your attention, and your cat really likes you. Return the love by showering him with “cat kisses” (gazing into his eyes),  ear scratches, cuddles, and playing with his toys. 

Why has my cat stopped kneading?

Your cat may have outgrown the kneading habit and may choose to express itself in other ways such as purring or cuddling.  

Not-kneading isn’t an issue and is usually just a preference for some cats. But when your cat has been kneading since birth and then suddenly stops, there may be a problem such as arthritis. 

For these reasons, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.


Why do cats knead and bite blankets? Your cat’s weird behavior around blankets may confound you, amuse you, or annoy you. 

But kneading and biting are perfectly natural nursing instincts they have learned from kittenhood which soothes and relaxes them. 

Unless they become troublesome and harmful to objects, people, and to your cat itself, these natural behaviors should be enjoyed and celebrated because it means your cat is happy and content. 

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