Kittens knead and we love them for that. Actually, we love them for everything because they’re so cute and needy and purring all the time. There are also moments when they go crazy, chew on pretty much everything and sharpen their little claws on your favourite sofa, but you must forgive them, they’re just little kittens being cute and adorable. Still, you can’t help, but wonder why they knead from such a young age and where they get that behaviour from? Is it innate? Well, there are a few explanations for kittens kneading all the time.
Why do Kittens knead?
Kittens knead to stimulate their mothers’ milk.
Yes, the first instinct they get to knead is to stimulate their mothers’ nipples to let milk pour down more easily. Thus, kittens begin kneading against their mother as they feed themselves at her breasts. From this to kneading to generate nourishment and their mothers’ attention is but one small step. Mothers nourish their kittens and usually wash them while they suckle at their breasts and kittens love that. They correlate the kneading and feeding time with the nourishment they get from their mothers and it all sums up to a very pleasant and relaxing time. Thus, kneading later becomes a behaviour which signals they’re really comfortable and feel good.
For little kittens, kneading also helps to relieve stress and soothe any kind of discomfort. The gratification they receive when kneading at their mothers’ breasts also translates into a state of calm and safety and kittens begin to knead any time they feel the need to relax and find peace. Usually, kittens knead blankets or sheets just to get comfortable before falling asleep. It’s almost like we arrange our pillow before laying our head on it and prepare for a long night’s sleep.
Later on, kneading will develop into a territory-marking behaviour, with cats kneading certain objects to let off their scent and thus announce any other “uninvited guests” that they should leave.
All in all, kittens knead as a first impulse to get their mothers’ breasts working and provide them with more milk and also as a sign of affection knowing that they’re receive their mothers’ nourishment after a short period of kneading. It shouldn’t bother you that your kitten is kneading. Just get her a blanket and teach her that that’s the spot for her to knead and she’ll just love that blanket and the love and affection that you show to her.