Does Your Cat Really Knead You?

WIN_20150524_053131We’ve had Beau, our first cat, for several months now.  He’s my first cat.  While my family had a cat when I was a child, she kept to herself.  Cricket was my mother’s cat.  She did not like me or my brother at all.  Beau likes me.

I know this because he kneads me.

I’ve learned quite a bit about cat behavior since adopting Beau.  The kneading thing was a big surprise.

If I’m sitting in the leather chair in our library, a chair which has suffered some damage since Beau arrived, Beau will jump up on the arm of the chair and reach out to gently poke my face.  Most of the time this is enough to get me to scratch him.  Sometimes, I’ll present my hand to him and say “Shake” like I do with the dogs.  He doesn’t shake with a paw, I’m told no cat will ever do this, but he does put his head down into my hand for a scratch which is pretty cute.  If I can somehow get this on film, I think there is some potential to finally go viral.

After he has poked me, Beau will then put his fore paws on my stomach and begin to knead me.  He sort of paces in place, lifting one foot, then the other, pressing into me each time like he is kneading a pile of dough.  After I’m soft enough, I guess, he’ll then hop on and curl up for a nap.  But sometimes the kneading continues even after he has curled up and begun purring.

Does your cat do this?

I was told that cats eat small amounts of food at a time but Beau tends to scarf his food down almost as quickly as a dog does.  He takes a few breaks, but he’s basically eaten the bowl of food in a couple of minutes.  Especially if it’s the canned stuff.  He’ll clean his plate for canned food every time.  We don’t leave food out for him all day long because the dogs will eat it which may be why B eau is such a dog-like eater.

Beau is still working things out with our two dogs.  Neither one of them will approach him, but he’s still not leaving the library even if the dogs are out of the house.  C.J. insists that this is okay.  He says once Beau has given Clovis the scratch he’s destined to get, Clovis will leave him alone.  Clovis is our Bassett who really just wants to play and can’t figure out why Beau is so stand-offish about it.  Clovis is a three-year-old male.  The other dog, Gabby is a small mutt, smaller than Beau by just a bit.  She keeps Beau on his guard but she has no interest in the cat as a playmate.

One of Beau’s favorite things is to have his belly scratched.  If you start, he’ll roll over for you, he likes it so much, almost all the way over onto his back the way a dog does.

Finally, I do want to mention the miracle of the litter box.  How can science explain this phenomenon.  Clean it once a day, keep it sufficiently filled, and Beau uses it every time, did so right from the start.  As a nearly life long dog owner, I still can’t get over the litter box.

It’s a wonder.

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14 Comments

  1. Jeanne says:

    One of my three cats kneads me. The theory about this is that cats who do that may have been taken away from their mothers a little young. Beau is saying he feels safe with you, and that you feed him.
    Besides the litter box, I also like that cats wash themselves.

    1. That is a good thing, too, but Beau may be getting an actual bath soon. We’re concerned about fleas these last few weeks. Beau is about six years old so he’s already lived a long life and who knows what it’s been like. He’s very happy with us.

  2. Teresa says:

    Cat behavior is fascinating, and each one is a little different, as I’m seeing while I continue getting to know my Anya. She’s also a kneader, much more so than my previous cats. She’ll jump up on me and knead with all four paws–I’m used to cats just using two. Oddly, though, it’s not a prelude to lying down and napping. So far, she hasn’t been interested in sitting on my lap at all. She just kneads until she (or I) has had enough. She also really likes attention, but she wants to be the one to make the first move. She sits next to me and taps my arm, and then if I put out my hand she’ll rub her face all over it. If I pet her without her asking, though, she’ll usually get up and walk away.

    1. We were told to let Beau take thelead, but he took so long to come out of his box once we got him home that we started grabbing him and putting him on our laps to show him how much he likes it. That really did work with Beau.

  3. Trish says:

    You make me so miss having a cat! Yes, mine used to knead–though I would think of this as more of a massage, especially if I could get her to do it on my back. LOL! Kidding…kind of. While I really liked our dog Lexi (lab), there just was never the same connection as with the cat who was so much more of a companion. Maggie even used to fetch…which was quite fun until she would want to do it at 6 in the morning.

    Enjoy! And hopefully the dogs will come around. Maggie was my cat and Lexi Scott’s dog, so when we moved in together the dynamics between the two was quite fun to watch.

    1. I’m hoping the cat will become my cat. The dogs love us both, clearly, but they are also really C.J.’s dogs. Dakota was my dog. You can tell.

  4. MarinaSofia says:

    My Zoe does an interesting twist on the kneading thing: I put a blanket on my lap and she starts kneading while sucking the blanket – clearly, a move that reminds her of her mother. She can keep that up for quite a while, but will then settle down, purring, not always going to sleep, but just wanting the companionship. In the evening, she will follow me from room to room quite persistently until I settle down on the sofa so she can do her ‘sucky-sucky’ on me (no one else will do). Oh, and she’s also a pretty fast (and greedy) eater.
    I love reading about the cat/dog dynamic. Enjoy watching it unfold!

    1. We’re really hoping the cat/dog dynamic settles down very soon. I think that’s what’s keeping Beau from going into the rest of the house. He seems happy, but I’d like to see him use more of the house. He’s a house cat after all, not a room cat. Though since he’s in the library, I guess he could be a library cat.

  5. tracybham says:

    Your cat sounds just like my cat, the kneading, and belly scratching. The cat we had before for 13 years liked to be petted and would lead me to a place to pet her, but no lap sitting, kneading, and absolutely no belly scratching. So this was a change for us too. Cats are wonderful.

    1. We specifically sought out a lap cat. We tested a couple (at the shelter) before we decided to take Beau. I can see now that we should have looked into furniture scratching too. Oh, well….

  6. shoreacres says:

    Dixie will knead, but only after I’ve gone to bed. Then, she hops up on my chest and spends a few minutes purring and kneading. THen, she’s happy to curl up on her bed and go to sleep. She’s not a lap kitty at all, and doesn’t even like to be picked up. My theory is that when I’m prone, she feels safer — she spent her first four months being dragged around by young boys, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

    1. I always say the best thing for young children is a hound. Bassetts love being dragged around.

  7. Lisa says:

    My cats have always been kneaders, but not on me – or not for long. I can’t imagine Teresa’s cat kneading with all four paws! I have a big chair with squishy arms, and they like kneading the cushions for a while before settling down to sleep. The two I have now like to have their bellies rubbed, but I’ve had other cats that would swipe with claws out if I touched their bellies. I wish these two were more lap cats – only in the winter will they condescend. But they like to sit by me, which makes me happy. I’d love to have a dog someday, when I have a yard, but I will always want kitties as well.

  8. Literary Feline says:

    Both of my cats are kneaders, although my senior cat more so. He always has to knead me before he gets comfortable. My younger cat often will just race onto my lap and plop down. She may knead at my arm a little, but not always. When she does, it reminds me of my Anya, who died a couple of years ago. She not only would knead my arm, but she would suckle the same spot on my arm for comfort. I know it’s weird, but I didn’t have the heart to stop her. It reminded me of a child sucking her thumb.

    I just love watching my cats and trying to figure out what their behavior means. They are both very affectionate, which I love. I’ve always been a dog person and only came to have cats when I was an adult. Now I consider myself both a cat and dog lover (although I no longer have a dog in the house–maybe someday).

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