This whole “kneading” cat thing, what is up with my cat?

Pittman & Davis

Question by Wut up: This whole “kneading” cat thing, what is up with my cat?
A little background on the cat: She’s about 14 weeks old, I found her when she was about 8 weeks old, abandoned in a box. She’s a solo cat who seems to be pretty happy in my house, and yes, she’s spoiled rotten.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m no cat expert. In fact, the kitten I have now is the only cat I’ve ever owned. So, this thing she does is a total mystery to me.

First of all, my cat does that “kneading” thing. I looked it up online, and there’s apparently millions of cats that do this. They take their paws, alternating right and left, and sort of go back and forth sort of massaging an area. I’ve trimmed her nails, so I can handle that. I looked up the “cat psychology” on this, and apparently, this is supposed to mean it’s a happy cat. Sure, I have a happy cat….. but it’s got this especially neurotic thing it does WHILE it’s doing this. It CHEWS, too. So, it sounds like this fast passed ticking clock while it’s pawing and chewing on me. It’s kneads and chews at the same time. WTH?

It doesn’t just chew and knead on anything, oh no, my cat is way to picky for that, she only does it to my bathrobe. It’s gross. I put her down, she jumps back up, I put her down, she jumps back up, I put her down… I think you get it. If I let her do it, I end up with this huge cat drool puddle on my robe. If I don’t let her do it, she (you guessed it.. jumps back up) The more I try to get her to stop, the more insistent she gets about it.

She wont do it unless I’m wearing the bathrobe. If it’s just laying on the bed, she ignores it. If I have on regular clothes, she couldn’t be bothered. I put the bathrobe on my daughter to see if she would do it to her… nope. Just me. I’ve washed the thing in all different kinds of detergent hoping that would stop her. Nope. I even sprayed it with this cat repellent spray I got at the pet store (it’s supposed to be for furniture).

Now, I haven’t seen any other cat chew and do the hand thing at the same time. I’ve looked on youtube, I’ve asked other cat owners that I know. I think she’s the only one. Either way, it’s driving me NUTS! In fact, she’s doing it right now and I’m about ready to get the cat a muzzle.

My big questions are:
1.Is this normal?
2. Will she grow out of it
3. How do I get her to stop?
These are ALL great answers, and I thank you for your help. I’m not sure who to pick for a “best”, so I’m going to put it to a vote. Thanks again everyone!

Best answer:

Answer by Lauren
I also have a cat who does this, and it might be because of the texture of the robe. We have a soft fuzzy blanket, and the working theory is that he was taken away from his mom too young; one of the other things kneading does is it’s basically a ‘milking’ motion. Because the blanket is so soft and fuzzy – and maybe too because the person under it is so nice and warm – for these once-abandoned kitties, they have some sort of strange notion that the person is ‘mom’, and the kneading and ‘chewing’ is the act of feeding. I really don’t know how you would stop this, except to get a bathrobe made out of a less fur-like material, like waffle weave or silk or something. I have baby kittens right now who do the same thing with my (fuzzy) bathrobe – but they’re so cute I don’t mind.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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6 comments on “This whole “kneading” cat thing, what is up with my cat?

  1. Goodness me, why try to stop this poor little kittens source of comfort ? She was obviously badly traumatised at being left in a box and you are the closest thing to a mother to her. You should feel honoured, its a great privelege and even though you say you have never had a cat before, you must be doing something right as she loves and trusts you.
    Don’t put stuff on her comforter to hurt her mouth or make her sick, let her take comfort, bathrobes are easy enugh to wash.She might grow out of it, she might not, but what does it matter if she’s happy ?
    As you haven’t had cats before you may not know she needs a scratching post, to exercise on and grow healthy muscles, you might have to show her how to use it at first or maybe get your daughter to show her so that she feels involved.Cats do tend to choose one special person and YOU are that person !
    Enjoy it !!!

  2. Kneading is quite normal, and I think all young kittens do this. Its a comfort thing, and both my older (5 years) cats do it for a few seconds before sleeping. I think when the cat does it all the time is when it becomes a problem. 8 weeks old is very young to be away from Mom, so I suspect in this case, its partly happening from being separated too early.

    I would actually pick up a piece of fabric of similar type to your robe, and let the kitten knead on that for a few moments, than take it away. This way, hopefully, it doesn’t become to bad of a habit. I wouldn’t wear your robe around the kitten until she’s used the fabric.

    Next, the chewing. Kittens loose baby teeth, same as an adult. She could be teething and needs to chew on things. Also, some cats really like the feel of whatever is being chewed on. For example, my cat loves foam anything and gets quite excited when she sees some on the floor. They do make toys for cats to chew on, and some small dog chew toys work too. Or just let your cat chew on the Her fabric for a few minutes, and then take it away.

    The kitten might grow out of it, many adult cats do, but sometimes they don’t. Don’t use punishment, you will just scare the cat. Best thing to do is just find something else for her to chew on in the mean time, limit her time with it, and if it starts becoming compulsive when she is older, than you will need to take a more stringent approach.

    Thanks for taking in this stray!

  3. Your kitten was obviously parted from her mother far too young and looks upon you as her mother now. The chewing is not actually chewing, it’s suckling, she’s kneading and suckling as she did from her mother and has associated the smell and the feel of the bathrobe with you and no one else.
    Don’t make the bathrobe unpleasant for her, better wash it and rinse it over and over so there’s nothing harmful on it, or she will end up with a sore mouth.
    One of our cats is exactly the same as your kitten, he left his mother too young as she was very young herself and had no milk. He took to my dressing gown when I was wearing it, just as your kitten has. It is like an abused or bewildered child’s ‘comfort blanket’ He’s now 8 years old and sleeps on my bed on a square of my same old dressing gown and sometimes even now has a little suck at it.
    So your answers are:
    1.Yes this is normal
    2.She may or may not grow out of it but she won’t do it as much as she grows up.
    3.You won’t get her to stop, if you try you’ll stress her out, she’s only a baby and seems to need this comfort, so why deprive her of it.

  4. A young kitten does the kneading thing to get milk from their mothers but the chewing thing? I have a cat that likes to chew on plastic (he’s done it for 7 years, as long as he lived), I really don’t know what to tell you. All I have is: Do you have toys for your cat, and if so, do the toys contain cat-nip? Because it seems to me that your cat wants to play.
    1: the kneading is normal. I don’t have anything for the chewing, though.
    2: possibly the chewing, but kneading is forever. kneading is what a cat is born with! It’s in a cat’s history!
    3: Don’t know what to tell you about this. :/

    Best of luck, A.L.D.

  5. Congratulations ~ you are the mommy cat 🙂

    She was separated from her mommy too early and never got a chance to properly wean, which means you’re “it”. She may never get over this, so you might want to ask Santa for another robe or two.

    I had a calico, Tasha, who was orphaned at about 48 hours after birth so I raised her (and her littermates) with a bottle. I got rid of the others but kept her. She loved to sit on my lap and suck a tiny tuft of fur on her right knee while kneeding the palm of my hand. She did this almost up to the day she died, 18 years later.

    It’s no big deal, make adjustments and plan on having a happy drooling cat as your companion for many years to come.

  6. This sounds to me like a “comfort thing”. Because you found her, comforted her, and give her food and attention, you are now “Mom” to her. This is why cats knead when they’re content–it’s the same motion they use to tread the milk out of their mother’s teats when they nurse.

    As for the chewing thing–your cat was probably weaned too early or too forcefully. This often leads to weird oral fixations in cats. Something about the texture or smell of your bathrobe triggers more “Mom” feelings in your cat, and she remembers when she was warm and safe and happy, and starts “nursing” again.

    She probably won’t “grow out of it.” However, you might be able to train her out of it, with positive reinforcement and “clicker training.” It takes patience, but it’s either that or try buying a different bathrobe, of different material, and hope it’s different enough your cat doesn’t associate it with her previous behavior.

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