Why does my cat bite my blanket and knead it? (+Pics)
If you have ever witnessed your cat bite and need your blanket, you may be confused and wish they had their bed (Click here for my 5 Best Cat Beds for Kittens). Let me explain why they do this…
Why does my cat bite my blanket and knead it? This is a known throwback from your cat’s life as a kitten. The chances are, after some time she will outgrow this behavior. But in the short term, it is comforting.
Now that you know why they do this, let me explain other reasons why they knead in this way. Also, if you should be concerned, if you should consider stopping them and more…
What exactly is a cat kneading & biting?
Kneading and biting is something that you’ll see from just about any cat and some cat owners have another nickname for it, which is ‘baking bread’ or ‘baking biscuits’. This is because of the emotions involved.
The cat starts pushing down and even lightly clawing at you or the blanket, much as if they were flattening the dough, and it’s often punctuated with light nipping and if your cat is ‘tasting’ the bread before it’s time to cook it.
Your cat is no baker, of course, and there’s a practical reason for this behavior – your cat is remembering their time nursing as a kitten! So, when your cat is doing this, they are having fond memories of childhood and transferring those associations to you a little in the bargain.
It hurts a little, granted, but that’s love for you, and while there are other meanings for this behavior, this reasoning is the core of the issue.
My Wierd Similarities With Cats Kneading and biting blankets
As I grew up I used to have this weird habit of eating peanuts and shaking the salt off them. This was passed down from my parents and was almost a source of jokes and merriment.
As I grew older I still find myself doing this same gesture every time I eat peanuts. It’s funny because it reminds me of some of this throwback behavior used by cats…
Are there other reasons for this kneading & biting behavior?
When they are kneading the blanket in this way. It is also a way for them to apply their scent and mark it as their territory. This is often seen when there are multiple cats in one household. Often each cat will have its own “possessions”.
When they knead the cat releases scent (Click here to see why your cat has stopped doing this) excreted from the sweat glands in its paws. Cats have a very sensitive smell and will indicate to other cats that this is their territory.
During this time, your cat will feel content. And you may even witness her purring. This is a show of happiness and her being content.
A natural nursing motion
The most common interpretation of kneading and biting is that it is the same motions a kitten exhibits to tell its mom that it’s dinner time! The biggest difference in this behavior now, of course, is that your cat can nip with a little more force and they’ve got more powerful claws in the bargain.
When they are kittens, however, these motions stimulate the production of milk from mom’s nipples, so while kneading behaviors seem a bit odd they’re just remembered routines from childhood that had a practical purpose.
Instinctual behavior from their wild ancestors
Kneading is not just for babies, but also for moms, and it’s a throwback from the time when cats were living in the wild.
A mother-to-be, ready to produce her litter, would knead at a soft area to spread about the leaves and other foliage to make a soft nest where she could have her babies in relative comfort and safety.
Cats are all about scents and especially, about putting their scents on things. It’s a very useful thing for a predator to do when you think about it. By putting their scent all over a territory, the cat ‘claims’ it and can also tell if there has been an intruder, by a change in the overall way that the territory smells.
Cats have scent glands all over their bodies, and this includes their paws, so when they are kneading an area, this scent gets transferred in the process, which makes your cat feel more comfortable and safer. At this same time, it is also telling all who can smell the scent that ‘this territory is mine!’.
A simple way to relax
As this behavior has strong ties to the time when your cat was a wee kitten and nursing from mom, it is often practiced by your cat as a way to feel more comfortable and to help themselves to relax. Notice the focus that you see when they exhibit this behavior.
Your cat is practically in a trance, often purring, and after a while, they tend to stop the kneading and simply curl up or otherwise lay down in the area which they have just prepared.
Expressing their trust
While those claws pressing into you and the light nips might be a bit uncomfortable, it’s considered to be somewhat of an ‘acquired taste’ by most cat owners because of the meaning behind it. Cat-savvy owners know that it’s an enormous mark of trust.
This goes back to when the kitten was nursing, after all, and so when your cat exhibits nostalgic kitten behaviors by kneading and biting at you like you’re their mom then it’s best to ‘grin and bear it’.
Your cat loves you, trusts you, and feels so safe with you that they’re practically reliving their days as a wee kitten.
Relief from anxiety
Finally, kneading and biting behaviors help your kitty to destress. The repetitive motions and the focus involved help to put your cat in something akin to a state of ‘kitty meditation’ and the nostalgic feel of repeating kitten behaviors seems to sue these little predators – long after they’ve grown.
Kneading and Suckling the Blanket
This is slightly different. Do you remember sucking your thumb as a child? If yes, then you can relate to this behavior. It is a way for your cat to feel comfortable and another throwback from being a kitten.
It is often seen with cats that were separated from their mother earlier than 12 weeks.
Is this something to be concerned about?
No, this is completely normal behavior. And to be honest, the chances are they will outgrow this within 1-2 years. The only thing to monitor is what items they choose for this, let me explain…
If they are attempting to suck or bite items such as electric power cords, shoelaces with plastic coverings, etc. Then you need to be concerned. This is dangerous for them.
Should they be stopped from doing this?
If you are wondering if you should be stopping this. You do not need to. As I said, they will naturally stop this with time.
However, if you are keen on stopping them for some reason. For example, they could be biting (Click here to see why some cats bite kittens’ necks) or sucking an item of clothing that you treasure. Then, I get it!
There are two ways you can do this:
- Negative training
This is a method of training her to not like sucking or biting on these items. It is achieved by purposely adding lemon juice or other unwanted flavors to these items to deter your cat from doing this.
The chances are it will work. However, it can confuse your cat and may lead to anxiety or behavioral issues such as aggression (Click here to see my 3 best pheromone collars for aggressive cats).
This is a more subtle and preferred approach. The idea is you gradually divert their attention from your treasured garment. This is done by offering them an alternative. Ideally, it is an old item of clothing that carries your scent.
If you can, use a wool sweater or wool garment. Not mandatory by the way, but just preferred.
Are there Other Reasons why they suck or bite on blankets?
As discussed the most obvious reason is early separation from their mother. However, there are other reasons that I will discuss now…
Breed of Cat
Certain breeds, such as Siamese or other oriental breeds have this tendency. For whatever reason, they are known to take longer to move on from their mother. This could be an explanation for their behavior.
In addition to this, they may just gain a level of comfort from this. It is likely to stem from their mother, to be honest. But it could also be attributed to their siblings as well.
What is Wool Sucking (Is it similar?)?
Yes, wool sucking is very similar. Arguably the same thing. It is when your cat will suck on clothing or other fabric-based items, such as blankets, sweaters, jumpers, etc. They are even known to suck on the tail of other cats.
In some cases, the cat will take it a step further and begin eating or swallowing these items. This is when it may become a concern. The reason is, that it can lead to health-related issues with their intestines.
When you notice a cat eating these items in this manner it is often called pica. This means a weird craving for non-food items. It is not a good habit as discussed earlier.
What Causes is Wool Sucking?
There are many theories behind this. And to be honest there is not necessarily a right or wrong one. The one that is most commonly associated with this behavior is being separated from their mother earlier than expected.
The expectation is at least 12 weeks before they are separated. However, some breeders will separate cats as early as 6 weeks. This is typically based on them starting to consume solids rather than their emotional needs.
It seems that this early separation can cause this wool-sucking habit as a way to feel comfortable.
Why does my male cat bite my blanket and knead it?
A male cat is likely to bite and knead a blanket to mark its territory. Male cats are quite territorial and any opportunity they get they will take it. Not only do these cats sweat from their paws, but they also release some scent that they use to mark the blanket or any other object of their choice.
Female cats will still knead these blankets, but a male cat may have a slightly different agenda.
Is it normal for a male cat to hump things?
Male cats have a habit of humping things especially if they are not neutered. This is a normal instinct they have and one of the reasons some cat owners decide to “fix them”, also known as neutering. Once this happens they tend to lose the urge to hump.
However, you still may see a male cat humping a blanket, or another object after it has been neutered. This is because it can take some time for the effect of the surgery to kick in.
Why do cats bite blankets and purr?
If you have seen your cat biting a blanket and purring it is normal. This is because they feel happy and will trigger their nursing instinct. They secretly love kneading and biting these blankets and purring can be a byproduct of this enjoyment.
So, if you see your cat biting, and purring around your blanket do not be shocked, this is just one of those activities that they enjoy.
Why does my cat bite my clothes and knead?
A cat may bite and knead your clothes for several reasons. The most common reasons are it loves your smell on the clothes and it is a comforting activity that may remind them of being a young kitten with its mother and littermates.
Why does my kitten suck on things?
A kitten may suck, or nurse, on things because they are stressed, weaned before they were ready, or maybe separated from their mother too early. You may see them sucking on random objects such as clothing or blankets.
What medical issues could this kneading & biting be hiding?
While most kneading is done as a way to mimic nursing behaviors and as a sign of trust, there are some cases when it could be indicative of a health issue. Let’s take a look at when kneading and biting behaviors might be a red flag that you’ll need to act on.
If you find that your cat is sucking and chewing at the blanket more than usual, then this might be a sign of Pica, which is a condition where your cat is ingesting non-food items. Humans can suffer from this condition as well – it’s a compulsive eating disorder.
Unfortunately, bits of the blanket in their digestive system can cause gastrointestinal distress and there’s no guarantee that your cat is only chewing the blanket, so it’s best to bring your kitty in for a checkup to get your vet involved.
Cats are creatures of habit, so this might also be in response to stress over something that has changed in the house recently, such as the introduction of a new animal, their owners fighting a lot lately, new furniture, or even a change in your work schedule.
Schedule the vet appointment and think about what has changed recently – your vet can give you some tips and possibly prescription help so that you can calm your kitty and help them to work through their stress.
Cavities and other dental issues can cause your kitty to chew, as the pressure helps to relieve some of the dental pain. If your kitty will let you, take a look at their teeth and gums.
The gums should be a healthy pink and the teeth shouldn’t be chipped or broken. If you don’t see an issue, however, it never hurts to get a second opinion from the vet, especially if this chewing behavior is new.
This is more of a side-effect of kneading and biting behaviors, but if your cat is sneezing, seems to be itchy of late, or is vomiting now from seemingly ‘out of the blue’ then you might want to check your blanket.
Hypoallergenic blankets are recommended with cats, as otherwise, your cat might be susceptible to triggering allergies when they knead and chew. If your cat is sneezing or otherwise showing signs of mild or moderate physical distress, get them to the vet and bring along your blanket to confirm – it might well be allergies.
Why do kittens knead and bite their mom?
This behavior is instinctual and quite normal. When the kittens are kneading and biting at mom, this stimulates the nipples into producing milk for nursing. It’s completely normal, although as the kitten has teeth and claws they can’t control very well yet, mom may get a little testy with her impatient kittens during this time.
Why does my cat like to bite; suck a freshly cleaned; dried blanket?
Once you’ve cleaned and dried your cat’s favorite blanket, it no longer has its scent on it. While your cat still loves the blanket, this lack of kitty scent simply won’t do! As such, while they are chewing, they’ll press their paws against the blanket, and the scent glands there will ‘correct’ the lack of kitty scents on the blanket.
In this section, I am going to answer some frequently asked questions related to this article topic. If there are any other questions unanswered, feel free to leave a comment and ask.
Q: Why would a neutered male cat start humping?
It may sound weird or unexpected, but it happens. This humping (Click here to learn if cats hump blankets) can happen for several reasons, so I will explain each possibility.
Neutered at an older age
If you decide to neuter your cat at an older age, there is a chance that this will happen. This is because he may have been used to doing this all his life, so it won’t stop overnight.
Its normal behavior
This can just happen because your cat needs affection (what about at night? click here), or just enjoys the feeling it gives him. it’s not a cause for concern.
It can even happen if he is feeling bored or just feeling frustrated.
If there are changes in your household you may notice this behavior. Your cat is likely to use this technique to establish his dominance as the alpha male, are you with me?
Q: Why is my cat biting me all of a sudden?
It is rare but it can happen. Biting is usually used by cats as a threat or attack or defensive move. If this is happening to you, there is a chance that your cat is testing the boundaries to establish who is the boss. Biting is also used as a way of communication.
Q: Why is my cat suddenly afraid of me?
If your cat is new to you this may happen. It could be confusing if you feel that you have established some trust only to find she is going back a step and acting scared (click here to see why cats are afraid of water).
The reality is, that she may need more time to seal the bond. There could be a bad history of abuse from the previous owner that could make the trust harder to establish.
Another issue could be general health. Maybe she is feeling sick and does not want to be touched. Often cats will retreat into their own space if they feel sick. The chances are she could be confused by the health issue if this is the case.