Cats are famous for their quirky behaviors, but drooling and kneading are two of the most common ones. Your kitty might knead on your chest or a blanket, and that seems adorable until she starts to drool, too.
Cats drool when kneading because as a kitten, they would knead at their mother’s teats which lets her know her kittens are hungry. In turn, the kittens salivate as they prepare for their incoming meal. Cats can continue to drool when kneading as a natural reflex, even as adults.
Yearning to learn more about why cats drool while kneading and what you can do about it? Read on as we explore the causes for these actions and the solutions.
What Is Kneading?
Kneading is a term that refers to when a cat opens and closes her paws on something, seemingly grabbing at it with alternating paws. The motion mimics a baker kneading dough. Felines often knead on soft objects like a blanket or pillow, but they can also knead on people they love. Kneading is usually adorable but can also hurt if you aren’t wearing thick enough clothing and their claws are too long.
The term kneading goes by many different names, including ‘making biscuits,’ the ‘cha-cha,’ and ‘massaging.’ Whatever you call it, it’s an instinct that all cats have.
Why Do Cats Knead?
Cats can knead for many reasons, but the first reason in their life that they knead is to trigger milk production in their mothers. Kittens will paw and massage their mother’s teats which causes her to produce milk, and the kittens will then feed. The production of milk is a reaction to the kittens massaging and suckling at their mother’s nipples, just as it is with humans.
Eventually, kittens are weaned off of their mother’s milk and are moved over to solid food. However, many cats continue to knead into adulthood, and it is not a sign that they were weaned too early. Kneading in an adult cat is a sign of contentment and comfort. Cats often purr and close their eyes as they knead, showing their relaxation.
If a cat is kneading or ‘massaging’ you, take it as a sign of love. Cats will ‘make biscuits’ on people they love, showing you that they feel safe with you. Some cats will sit right on top of you and knead at your chest or stomach. This can be cute, but it can also be painful. If your cat has long claws, she’ll often stretch them out as she kneads, which can scratch and pinch you.
Cats may also knead to spread their scent onto objects they like. These furry felines often stretch out and paw at their cat-posts, which transfers their pheromones onto the carpeted objects, declaring it ‘theirs.’
Why Cats Drool While Kneading
There are a few theories as to why cats drool while kneading. The first is tied to feeding as a kitten. Just as pawing at their mother’s stomach would produce milk in her, it would also trigger salivation in the kittens. Like babies, Kittens will drool a little as they feed, but since your adult cat is not feeding, she isn’t swallowing the saliva she’s producing. Instead, the saliva accumulates until, eventually, she is drooling.
Cats are also thought to drool when they are extremely content or comfortable. Purring is often simultaneous with drooling, and purring often goes hand-in-hand with kneading. If your cat is extremely happy and is massaging you, the drooling is likely another sign of how relaxed she is.
Is Drooling While Kneading Normal?
It is completely normal for a cat to drool while kneading. Your cat is likely extremely content and comfortable and is perhaps reminded of being a kitten kneading at her mother for milk. Some cats even suck on blankets and bits of fabric which helps them to relax.
A small amount of drooling is normal, but an excessive amount of drool can signal health issues.
Why Is My Cat Drooling?
Your cat is likely drooling because she is content and relaxed, especially if it coincides with kneading. However, some illnesses cause excessive drooling as a symptom.
In both dogs and cats, excessive drooling can be a sign of nausea or an upset stomach. Cats may drool a large amount after eating something rotten or even while they are in the car. This drool or foaming at the mouth is often a sign that your cat is about to vomit, so make sure to move her off of the carpet or pull over if you’re driving.
Infections in the mouth can also cause a cat to drool. A rotten tooth, mouth ulcer, infected injury, or gum disease can all cause your cat extreme pain. The body may produce a large amount of saliva to lubricate the painful area or flush the painful object out, similar to when you get debris in your eyes and water.
Stress can also cause your cat to drool. If she is in a highly stressful situation, she might start drooling in a sort of panicked state. Usually, her eyes will be wide, and she will be standing rigidly, maybe even shaking a little. This position can also signify shock after an injury or near-death experience.
How To Stop Your Cat From Drooling
While your cat is likely drooling from pure joy, you might find the salivary mess unappealing. If your cat is drooling all of the time, the best thing to do is take her to the vet to be examined. Any sort of trauma to the mouth or ingested toxin can make your cat drool, and it’s best to have her looked at if this is the case. Your vet will be able to clean and treat any wound or prescribe antibiotics if your cat has an oral infection.
If your cat is drooling while kneading, you’ll have a harder time getting her to stop. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the drooling without stopping the kneading. You can deter your cat from kneading on top of you by physically moving her off of you. However, she wants to bond with you, so you may not want to ruin that experience.
The best way to protect yourself from kitty claws and drool is to buy a feline-friendly blanket that you use just for those occasions. Have a thick blanket near your couch so that when your cat comes crawling onto you, you can easily protect yourself by placing the blanket on your lap. The thick fabric will protect you from her sharp claws and will also catch the drool as it falls. You’ll likely want to select an old blanket that you don’t care about because it is destined to get ruined.
Another great thing about having a dedicated cat-blanket is that your pet will become accustomed to kneading and resting on that fabric. The more time she spends on the blanket, the more her scent will sink in. She will enjoy laying on the blanket when you’re not home and may choose to knead on the blanket on the couch beside you instead of pawing at your lap and covering you with drool.
Cats drool while kneading because they are content and happy. They may be reminded of their kitten-hood when they would knead their mother for milk and drool as they fed. If your cat climbs on top of you and proceeds to knead, purr, and drool, take it as a compliment. It means she loves and trusts you. If you don’t want drool or claw marks on you, then make sure to wear a thick, old sweater or place a large blanket on your lap.
- AAHA: Is my cat’s kneading normal?
- Medela: Breast milk production | Supply and demand
- VetHelpDirect: Cat drooling everywhere? These could be the reasons!
- Pet Health Network: Why Do Cats Drool? It’s Never Normal
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.