Having both a cat and a dog in the same house is a said to be a recipe for disaster but in a surprising twist, your cat gives free massages to your dog! This behavior is very intimate for a cat.
Cats massage dogs that they only trust, showing that they see the dog as a member of their group and marking the canine as a part of their territory.
Read about why cats knead or massage dogs, where this behavior stemmed from, and if it’s only something observed among domestic cats.
Why Does My Cat Keep Massaging My Dog?
Cats knead as a way of showing that they’re content, comfortable, and secure. When kneading is done to a dog, your cat is showing that it finds relief and comfort in the dog’s presence, and the feline is also marking the dog with a scent to distinguish its housemate from other dogs.
Is it something to be concerned about? Kneading is an intimate act between a kitten and its mother, and when adult cats replicate it with an owner or a pet companion, then it’s a display of a good relationship.
Jump to 0:08 and watch until 0:14 to see this adorable moment of a cat kneading its best-dog.
Why Do Cats Do the Massage Thing?
Also called “making biscuits” or “cat massage”, kneading refers to a cat’s act of using its front paws to massage objects, people, and fellow pets. If you have had the honor of your cat massaging you, then your cat sees you as a place of comfort and security.
Here are other reasons why cats knead:
- To mark their territory.
- To combine a unique scent between itself and the receiver as a form of bonding and group identification.
- To perform a soothing gesture when feeling stressed or anxious.
- To stretch their muscles.
- To show it’s ready to mate.
There is a scent gland in each of your cat’s paws called the interdigital gland. It produces pheromones for specific purposes. Whether they knead dogs and humans or scratch carpets and cat posts, a scent is being released.
It doesn’t always have to do with scent though. When kneading to show it’s ready to mate, cats will raise the pelvis, purr, and put their tail on one side.
Read: Do Cats See Humans as Cats? An Exploration of Feline Cognition
Where Did Cats Learn to Knead?
Kneading is learned as young as the first week when kittens begin to explore their surroundings. Their eyes start to open and they begin to hear things better.
During nursing, kittens suckle the mother’s teat and knead the fatty breast to encourage milk production. It stimulates nerves in the breast and sends a signal to the brain for oxytocin, which then causes the muscles surrounding the milk-making glands to contract and allow for a steady flow of milk to the offspring.
As the kittens massage the breast, the paws are stretched and pheromones are released from the small glands between their toes. The scent is called the Feline Appeasing Pheromone which is used to mark the mother and the kitten to combine a unique scent, so when they are separated, the mother can identify its offspring.
You might find this being asked about Bengal cats!
Read: Why Do Cats Age So Fast? Explaining the Rapid Aging of Cats
Why Does My Cat Knead Me Then Bite Me?
It seems like a playful behavior when your cat kneads and then bites. Sometimes you aren’t the victim of this, it can be the blankets too.
Aside from kneading, when your cat suckles and bites you or other objects, it can be a sign of early weaning. Your cat may also do it as a way of soothing itself. If not the case – as you know, felines bite to convey that you stop what you are doing with them.
If this happens frequently, move the cat to knead on blankets or its cat bed. When the biting starts when they’re younger, don’t encourage or think it’s playful to entertain this behavior because your cat will assume it’s okay to sink its teeth into you.
Read: Why Do Cats Fight at Night?
Why Do Cats Massage and Bite Blankets?
Kneading is a behavior that cats learn during kittenhood when they’re suckling at the mother’s teat for milk. As they grow, they reenact it on inanimate objects and knead and bite blankets to…
- Mark it as theirs. The scent glands between the cat’s toes release a pheromone that marks the dog and creates a unique scent belonging to them.
- Find comfort. The act of kneading and biting can be attributed as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress that the cat is going through.
- Alleviate pain in their gums or teeth. As the cat kneads for comfort, it bites the blanket to add pressure to the teeth and gums. Make sure to check for swelling on the gums, bleeding, and buildup of tartar.
What Is Obsessive Kneading in Cats?
A cat may knead compulsively after a stressful event and do it daily. Obsessive kneading can be a result of unmet needs because they knead to cope with the stress.
The stress could be from major changes made in their environment. The issue could also lie in a health problem that is yet to be detected.
Cats need to be engaged physically and mentally to keep them stimulated. A well-adjusted cat kneads to express comfort and a stressed cat kneads to find comfort. It may seem frustrating but understanding your feline and finding ways to ease its life is going to make it easier for you both.
Read: Why Do Cats Arch Their Back When They’re Scared or Anxious? Here’s the Explanation
Do Big Wild Cats Knead?
Domestic cats were once wild and still are if they choose to be. Some behaviors between the wild and the domestic are still shared. Big cats were observed kneading tall grass to make for a comfortable resting spot.
Haven’t seen it live?
Similar to their tamed cousins, wild felines knead to stretch their muscles, create a comfortable space, and show interest in mating.
Lone Tree Vet compares domestic and wild cats and found the similarities to be very close. Both knead, stalk, play, sleep more than 12 hours a day, are affected by catnip, and mark territories by scratching, face-rubbing, and urinating.
Read: How to Discipline a Cat Not to Bite?
Cats and dogs are stereotypically enemies and yet you see them being best of friends. One such behavior that indicates a good relationship between this two is when the cat massages the dog out of comfort, trust, security, and the urge to mark the dog as its own.