Cats are fascinating pets, and they do have several peculiar quirks that keep us curious and engaged. Most cats exhibit some odd behavior, which can leave us wondering why they behave the way they do, like why do cats knead and bite blankets?
Some cats bite blankets to release their scent and mark their territory. Some cats recollect kneading behavior from when they were young and feeding off their mother for milk.
However, biting blankets can also be related to stress and dental problems in cats. Let’s learn more about why cats knead and bite blankets, and how you can stop your pet from doing so.
What Is Biting and Kneading?
Before you wrap your head around why your cat bites and kneads your Sherpa blankets, you must first learn what actually qualifies as biting and kneading a blanket. Biting is easy to understand, so we’re not going to get into that.
Kneading is a term often used when making bread or biscuits, but it refers to when your cat repeatedly presses their claws into a soft surface — like a pillow, clothes, blanket or cushion. Kneading is also usually accompanied by biting or sucking the blanket.
When kneading, cats alternate between pushing in and out with their feet. As they pull back, their claws retract. Next up, why is it called kneading? Well, because it resembles kneading the dough done by bakers.
Why Do Cats Knead and Bite Blankets?
So we’ve established that kneading and biting are extremely common behavior in cats. If you’re still worried about your cat biting blankets, keep reading to learn about the most common causes of this habit.
Cats find biting relaxing. For some of the more sensitive cats, it actually might be a method to remember their mother and littermates — which makes them feel better emotionally.
Since cats can be a tad bit vulnerable when they go to sleep, it’s only natural that they engage in kneading and biting to affirm a sense of protection that their moms once provided. All in all, they do this for a sense of comfort. It may even assist them in achieving a “trance-like” mental state.
A continuation of kittenhood is one of the main reasons adult cats knead or bite blankets. Biting is pretty standard for kittens. It’s an intuitive trait your cat has adopted since they were young.
Kittens are usually fed by their mothers until they are around eight weeks old. During this time, they bite and knead at the mother’s teat to get milk. Sometimes, this behavioral pattern continues into adulthood — especially for cats separated from their mothers prematurely.
Cats bite and knead blankets to reduce stress and anxiety. Once again, this dates back to their kittenhood when they were safe and secure. Now that they aren’t, because they’re feeling stress and anxiety, biting and kneading become their only coping methods.
Despite their enviable lifestyle, pet cats can feel anxious in various situations. New pets, visitors, children or even neighboring cats can cause these emotions.
Kneading also has science to go with it. It catalyzes the smell released from a cat’s scent glands in their feet. It usually occurs in tandem with purring, which releases positive endorphins.
A Sign of Trust
Whether your cat is kneading you while sitting on your lap, or kneading your fuzzy, warm blanket and clothes, the important takeaway is that it’s a gesture of affection and trust.
Biting and kneading on a blanket or other soft object in the house indicates that your cat is more or less content. They’re at ease in your home and with you. So the next time you see your cat kneading and biting a blanket, spoil them with some extra love to make them the happiest cat.
If your cat doesn’t usually bite on blankets but suddenly begins to do so, it could be a sign they need dental care. A cozy blanket to bury their heads in comes in handy when they’re down with dental pain.
Tips To Stop Your Cat From Kneading and Biting Blankets
Precaution is better than cure. So it’s best to put an end to your cat’s biting behavior before it becomes habitual to avoid irreversible consequences.
Here is how you can keep your cat away from your favorite blanket.
Give Your Cat a New Toy To Chew On
Divert your cat’s biting prowess to safer, more appropriate items — like cat toys. Try picking up some that you can hide treats in to make it more tempting.
Get Rid of the Blankets
If your cat is constantly exposed to a blanket, it will feel compelled to knead and bite it. If your cat bites all your blankets, you can limit the cat’s access to that room or hide the blankets whenever you’re not using them.
Play With Your Cat More
Some cats chew because they are lonely or bored. Spend quality time with your attention-starved kitty by providing additional mental or physical stimulation.
Teach your cat to wear a harness and take them for walks with you. Some cats like to be kept in outdoor enclosures to see birds and “experience” the outside world. Try different things out to see what works best for your cat.
Visit a Veterinarian
It’s best to take your cat to the clinic if they suddenly start biting blankets out of nowhere. Your cat may be suffering from an underlying health problem such as Pica or a dental problem, causing it to bite on blankets to alleviate some of the pain.
Remember, cats like to hide when they’re sick, and a blanket can be the perfect hiding place for a cat.
Another excellent technique to eliminate unwanted behaviors in cats is to use positive reinforcement. When you notice your cat nibbling on a blanket, carefully remove it from its mouth.
You can remove the blanket and say “no” if it understands orders. Then give your cat treats as soon as it stops biting the blanket to reinforce the positive behavior.
A cat is more than just a cuddly friend. You must learn to identify and interpret cues they give you regarding their physical and mental health.
Why do cats knead and bite blankets? It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason, but all vets agree that kneading and biting are associated with one or more of the reasons mentioned in our article above. Kneading and biting are common among cats, and almost all cats bite blankets for various reasons. That said, if you’re bothered by hairy, stinky blankets, give your cat toys meant for nibbling or train it to stop doing it altogether.