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Kneading is a common behavior seen in domestic cats. Cats often perform this motion — sometimes called “kneading dough” or “making biscuits” — on soft surfaces, including pillows, blankets, other animals and even people.

It’s unclear why cats knead, but a number of hypotheses exist:

  • The most oft-repeated explanation states that kneading is a leftover behavior from kittenhood. During nursing, a kitten will knead the area around its mother’s teat to promote the flow of milk.
  • In adulthood, a cat supposedly will knead when it’s feeling happy or content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mother. Adding further weight to the explanation: Some cats even suckle on the surface they’re kneading.
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