Cat Behavior Kneading is natural for a cat, even in this instance. This is a photograph of a semi-feral cat in Athens, Greece. The cat remembered her/his domestic cat roots as she jumped up onto the lap of the photographer's friend/partner and started to knead. Photo by sarako under creative commons license.
Cat behavior - kneading, is perfectly natural to a cat but can be irritating to a human. Although there is a great deal of compatibility in the cat/human relationship there are areas of incompatibility for some people who don't understand cat behavior (no criticism is meant) or who wish to keep a cat but who do not wish to accept all that entails.
If we keep cats we absolutely should accept cats for what they are. People who live with a partner (meaning a human partner) realize that trying to change your partner's behavior will not work and in any event we have decided to live with that person so we know we should, indeed must, accept that person entirely, which means accepting the things we like and the things we dislike. It is both that make up the person's character.
Exactly the same approach can be applied to living with any animal species including cats.
Cat Behavior Kneading - photo by Cherry and Eric under creative commons license.
To a domestic cat we are a mother/father cat. A kitten when still feeding at her/his mother's nipple will stimulate milk flow by kneading the area of her mother's belly around the nipple. The kitten will purr in contented expectation at the milk to come and may dribble as saliva is produced in expectation of food to come. A mother cat will lie down in preparation for feeding he kittens.
When we sit down this is the equivalent (or as near as we get) to a mother cat lying down to feed her kittens. Your cat reverts to being a kitten. In keeping a cat we keep them in a permanent state of kitten hood except when they go out alone at night, for example, and revert to being something of a wild cat.
You cat (acting as a kitten) then jumps up onto your lap and looks for a feed. To stimulate the milk flow she kneads you legs. The action is rhythmical and slow. The movement becomes more purposeful and your cat's claws can be felt. This is an intimate and tender moment in the cat to human relationship, which should be treasured and enjoyed (except the claws can hurt a little!).
At this intimate point some people push their cat away or even worse. This will be surprising and upsetting for your cat. A true mother cat would not do this. Pushing your cat away at this time is the opposite to what should be done as it is a moment that is ideal to cement a tender relationship with your cat and build trust and friendship which brings the true rewards for the human in a cat/human relationship.
Sometimes your cat will knead your clothes or bedclothes. Your clothes and bedclothes smell strongly of us and are soft. The same thought process/behavior is going on.
In conclusion Cat Behavior - Kneading is natural and should be seen as a beautiful expression of your cat's attitude towards you as a parent cat.
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