In the wild, cats demonstrate many behaviors that we might not expect to see in a domesticated cat. However, our special felines rely on instincts regardless of where they live. Kneading is one of those behaviors we often look at and wonder what it is that leads them to do this.
In the wild, cats might knead to create a bed for themselves and their family. They push down branches and grass to create a comfortable resting spot. Pet cats may also be doing this, but they are more likely just looking for a nice resting spot on your belly.
When kittens knead, they are often trying to get more milk out of their mothers. By pushing the mother’s belly, they can generate more milk for themselves.
Some people say cats knead areas they wish to mark with their scent. There are scent glands in their paw pads. Female cats may knead before they go into “heat” to tell the males in the area that they are available.
Domesticated cats are social and they may be kneading to tell the people in the house that they trust them and feel safe. Kneading is a natural and instinctual behavior. Not every cat kneads, but it is a very common behavior.