Photo of @zoeythetwistycat on Instagram
We cats can be a little more difficult to read than dogs, especially for first-time cat owners. There are plenty of things we do that humans find confusing and hard to interpret. Kneading, for example, is something you’ve probably seen your Bengal do several times. It’s also known as “making biscuits” or “making bread” since it resembles the way a baker kneads dough.
Kneading is something often done by kittens, but adult Bengal cats will knead as well. I know you think we’re pretty adorable when we knead—I think so, too—but there’s more to it than most humans know.
Where does the kneading begin?
Kneading actually starts off as being an instinctive behavior in kittens when they’re trying to stimulate the flow of milk from their mother’s nipples. It’s an act of survival that allows them to make sure they get enough milk from their momma. It’s also a way for the kittens to encourage her maternal instincts and form a strong bond with her. It’s their way of communicating that they feel happy and safe with her around.
Most adult cats (like me) carry that instinct with them when they grow up. Adult cats will knead if something or someone makes them feel happy, safe and comfortable, like soft blankets or pillows. They may even do it in a trance like state—rhythmically kneading while drooling. It’s nothing to worry about though, that just means they’re being transported back to their kitten-hood.
Adult cats will also knead to mark their territory or claim something as theirs. We cats have scent glands all over our bodies, including our paws. By kneading on something, we’re leaving our scent on it to let other cats know whatever we’re kneading on is already taken.
Consider it a privilege if your Bengal cat kneads on you because that can mean one of two things: they feel completely comfortable and safe around you, or claiming you as theirs. Either way, it’s the ultimate sign of feline affection.
What if my Bengal cat’s kneading becomes aggressive?
In some cases, a normally lovable Bengal cat might turn their kneading into an obsessive practice and may end up driving you nuts. If you notice that your Bengal’s kneading is getting out of hand, they’re probably not just being overly affectionate and something else might be going on.
Unfixed male and female Bengals may exhibit aggressive kneading, followed by biting, which can signal that they’re looking for a mate. Female Bengals may even go into a trance like state while kneading, which can mean they are going into heat. This behavior is often accompanied by loud meowing or yowling sounds.
If your Bengal cat is unfixed and displays this kind of behavior, it’s best to get them spayed or neutered right away. Their aggressive kneading will pass after they get fixed.
Kneading comes naturally to all cats, including us Bengals. If you find your Bengal’s kneading to be a nuisance, you can try to distract them with toys whenever they do it. If your Bengal loves to knead on you with their claws out, don’t get mad and punish them. Instead, just try to keep their claws trimmed or place a blanket on top of your lap whenever you cuddle with your Bengal. Kneading is their way of showing you that you’re their human and they love you. So sit back, relax and enjoy those loving moments with your beloved Bengal.