The More You Know: Why Kittehs Knead

The_more_you_know2Q: Why do kittehs knead?

A: That loud purring followed by the sharpening of claws on some soft spot is called "milk-treading." A nursing kitten instinctively uses his paws to draw out milk, gently pushing on his mother’s stomach to increase the milk flow.

When older cats behave this way, it’s a good sign that they’re happy, content, and probably recalling their kittenhood. [Head tilt]

Info morsel sent in by Dee K. via The very definition of kneading video is an encore presentayshe from Catharoo!



  1. Biscuit Kitteh!

  2. Ha, my cat does this a lot… So good sign! 🙂

    This undoes all the “yuck” from the previous dog video.


  4. soooo adorable…

  5. hehe that cat looks practically sexual

  6. No…No…can’t handle the cute…too much…ded. Time to close up shop CO, you can’t top this one!

  7. Ahhnnnnn…..*paw paw*

  8. So cute. I love the pass-out moments.

    My young cat does this all the time now; strangely she really only started doing it consistently when she hit 1 year old. Maybe that’s when nostalgia kicked in?


  10. OMG the falling asleep! So wonderful!

  11. I fall asleep while milk-kneading too. Doesn’t everyone?

  12. That feline is a hopeless case. Just hopeless. Sooo hopeless…-ly cute.

  13. crazyweinerdoglady says:

    Kitteh making BIIIISSScuits >^..^<

  14. A NUFF proof post!!!

  15. That means kitty has been taken away from his mother too early. This poor kitty is suffering. 😦

  16. Just kidding Shannon. 😛

  17. Catherine says:

    Look at that kitty smile! There’s nothing better..

  18. I understood that this behaviour was called “happypaws” – Mac (all 193lbs of him) still likes to do this, which explains why We Can’t Have Nice Things – a tenth of a ton of hairy malevolence doing happypaws on a leather sofa apparently counts as “normal wear and tear” and Mitchell & Gold won’t take it back 😦

  19. Tony James, do you have a Pet Lion?

  20. lurkingsmirk says:

    I read that it’s also instinctual for putting a nice soft nest together for going to sleep in, which explains why it happens before nappy time.

  21. my family and i always called this “love nipples”

  22. I just love the look of overwhelming contentment they get on their faces when they’re makin’ biscuits!

  23. we call it plumb puddling!

  24. I wonder if calling it making biscuits is a southern thing. Up here (Canada) I’ve only heard it called kneading bread. (Well, at least that’s what I call it.) Cute!

  25. Aw…that’s my Daphne! Thanks for the encore, CO! BTW, she still makes biscuits, but stays awake through them now.

  26. I’d never heard it called “making biscuits” before, but I think it sounds a lot cuter than “milk-treading” 🙂

  27. Biscuit girl returns! One of my all time favorites, replayed often.

  28. berthaservant says:


    And look at the paws on that little lady!

    There are more books about cat behavior at your local library.

  29. warrior rabbit says:

    We (I’m in CA) call it kneading. This way you can also make ‘she kneads you’ jokes.

  30. Gah! You killed me ded!

  31. momof2kitties says:

    I LOL’ed! But quietly, so as not to wake the sweepy puddy tat.

  32. Can't bear to put my name on this one. says:

    Does this offer any explanation of why I tend to reflexively rub my feet together when I’m feeling cozy? I’ve always wondered if I am reverting to babyhood or something, which kind of weirds me out. I’ve tried to look this up to see if anyone else does it, and all I find is a bunch of foot fetish YouTube videos. Apparently this little innocuous habit is arousing to others? Oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it have that effect on anyone.

    Dare I hit “post?” I’m feeling very silly. Please, someone, say you do the same thing, and that it isn’t related to some weird sexual thing or improper mothering.

  33. Can't bear . . . says:

    P.S. The one thing I’m pretty sure it does NOT reveal is that I’m a cat!

  34. oh myyy goooodness. this is soo cute. I think I just shed a little tear I’m so happy and so in awe of the suteness! My Pistol never does this but I wish he did!

  35. @Can’t bear: I do the EXACT same thing. Rubrubrub, my arches against each other, until I’m asleep. Drives my Girl nuts.

    Apparently not so rare, though. Features in…I think it’s Chasing Amy?

  36. I love the head bob, I do that in classes when I get bored. Sleepppppppyyy kitty……

  37. (singing) Kittehs…kittehs kneading kittehs… are the happiest kittehs… in the world…zzzzzzzzz–WHAT?! I’m awake! I’m awake!

  38. My Dante treads with all four paws. He’s a little goofy.

  39. My big orange furball did it lots and lots when I first got him… then he stopped.

    BUT! I found that giving him chin rubs makes him knead my arm. Cute, albeit just a tad painful with those claws. ^_^;;

  40. Can’t bear, my high school best friend and her mother both had that foot rubbing habit while relaxing or falling asleep. She used to sit on her mom’s feet to get her to stop, even though she did it, too!

    On the kitteh: YAY! I love the kneadingks!

  41. i also heard it was related to being weaned too early

    still cute though 🙂

  42. the foot rubbing thing is mentioned in High Fidelity.

  43. warrior rabbit says:

    Are marmies technically tabbies? Or are just the garden variety grey-ish kitties tabbies?

    Just wondering, because this article about Dewey Readmore Books, the library cat, called him a yellow tabby.

  44. nads (what a name!), I don’t think it’s a south thing, or a non-Canada thing, cuz I live in Canada and I call it “making biscuits”.

  45. Nice to know! When my friends and I were tweens we just joked that my cat was molesting us.

  46. I thought they were practicing their Piano scales.

  47. cats kneading and often sucking or dropping saliva is a displacement activity (Konrad Lorenz). Displacement activity is an irrelevant response to anxiety and because of this, too much kneading and sucking is considered to be a stereotype behaviour. I disagree with Meg that kneading is the indicator for cats being happy, but on the other hand I don’t think kneading is a worrying behaviour at all. Except when they do it all the time.

  48. sleepinks while kneedinks…who could not love it???

  49. In some places, the “kneading biscuits” becomes “treading leaves,” as if the treader were making a nest…. The nodding off remains the nodding off, as … I … am … doing … n … zzz.

  50. but then, why do they use their claws like that? you wouldn’t want to use your claws on your mom’s stomach, right?
    I still have questions!!!

  51. I thought that “tabby” referred to any stripely kitty regardless of color scheme.

    OMG, if that kitten ever grows into her enormous feets, Lord help us all! And then she goes and shows us her chin strap!

    I used to have a 20-lb polydactyl cat. When he kneaded you, you KNEW you were being kneaded.

  52. I used to have a 20-lb polydactyl cat. When he kneaded you, you KNEW you were being kneaded.

    T.U.M. -I had an identical experience. We had a large poly named Toes (go figure)and the kneading was painful, but he always seemed so happy and drooly that we never had the heart to discourage him. 🙂

  53. My marmalade tabby was abandoned by his egg-donor (I’m his REAL mother) at two days old. He kneaded me and sucked my clothing for years. I thought it was annoying until I left him with my husband to go on a 10-day trip, and when I got home he never did it again. Now I miss it! I guess I abandoned him again. At least my clothing is no longer marked by “Kitty Titties!”

  54. Oh, that was so awesomely funny! The deadly knead/zonk combination on video is better than coffee!

  55. tracyFlick says:

    It loooooves its owner, look how it’s looking at her. Loooooves you.

  56. omg i almost died. twice. so cute! someone get that kitty a pillow!

    making me sleepieees.

  57. Okay BUT. My Stinky Piggy-cat finds biscuit-making, erm… “stimulating”. And then he goes to sleep.

  58. I do that head jerk thing all the time at work. haha
    That was really super cute. Makes me want to go find a nice, warm blankie and take a nap.

  59. Ultra Kawaii just did a whole episode about kneading kitties!

  60. Minya – exactly! It was worth a little discomfort to make Charlie a happy boy.

  61. @Can’t bear to put my name on this one:

    I know a man who does this – it’s a VERY endearing behavior, and I always felt it meant I was making him relaxed, content, and cozy. I’d never seen anyone else do it, but sounds like there are some of you out there. No need to feel embarrassed, I think it’s pretty cute!

  62. To all you worry warts the kitten is content enough said!

  63. Alex – no, although Mac does spend a lot of his day just “lion” around… (sorry)

  64. EaterofShades says:

    sleepy “kneady” kitty!!

    although the claws do look a little dangerous, hope there was an extra sweater or something 🙂

  65. ScoutsMom says:

    I love how kitty’s eyes get real big when she awakens, as if she’s saying “What? I’m awake. I wasn’t sleeping.”

  66. Mary (the first) says:

    Yep, kitteh is happy. When they suck on your hair, that’s a sign they were weaned too early. But as far as I’ve known, with cats of all kinds/weaning age, they all do “biscuits” when they’re comfy and happy. Some harder than others. Also I do the rub feet together thing when going to sleep and never associated it with kitteh paw action! Now my kitteh and I have even more in common.

  67. Mary (the first) says:

    oh and.. I have always thought “tabby” meant striped, as someone pointed out, and can be any color. In fact when I think “marmi” it’s orange or orange/white *without* stripes.. blotches or something but not stripes. Marmalade isn’t striped, after all… maybe that’s just me.

  68. Mary1 — that hair-sucking thing? …also might be a sign that you need to switch from your macrobiotic catnip mint shampoo to vanilla freesia. Or, y’know, something citrus.

  69. My guys do this all the time! Yay for happy and content kittehs!

  70. lillykitty says:

    my goodness! that kitty is the definition of happy.


  71. This was like, the first video I think I ever saw on Cuteoverload. I love that kitten, she’s so flipping cute it makes my teeth hurt.


    Wait – THIS must be what is happening to my teeth and why I’ve needed two crowns in the last year! It’s cuteoverloads fault!!! The cuteness is rotting my teeth!

  72. i’ve been forwarding this link to everyone. spreads happiness.

  73. Gail (the first one) says:

    Kneading, biscuit-making…I call it “stompingks”. I’ve always heard it is a sign of contentment. Cats DO purr when they are stressed, to comfort themselves, I understand.

  74. weemaryanne says:

    Awwww, somebody needs a nap. (yawn) Oh, I guess that’s me.

  75. Goggies do it too! Since the day we brought him home from the breeder, my bichon has kneaded a raggedy teddy bear. He still kneads and sucks on it every night.

  76. The little head falling back then snapping upright like “Hey I wasn’t aleep I was just resting my eyes’ mostion was killing me.

    Too cute!

  77. So sweet, with the head lolling back! I look like that when i fall asleep on the train sometimes…
    Our cat Frankie used to do this and sometimes tried to suckle too, but only on an old blue fleecey dressing gown we had. We figured it reminded him of his mother’s tummy, as he never tried to suckle anything else. I actually do think in his case he was taken too young, but once the dressing gown got thrown out he stopped doing it, so all was ok, no permanent psychological damage! He was a ginger tabby, and also like to go swimming, the big weirdo…

  78. iggle, my mother’s cat used to do that – if his “sucky dress” was in the hamper, he would actually go and drag it out.

  79. Can’t bear…I thought that I was the only one to do the foot rubbing thing! Pleased to hear that I am not alone! I’ve been doing it since childhood – long time ago!

  80. I will not fall asleep!