Table of contents:

When cats make "pasta"
When cats make "pasta"

"Making pasta" (or kneading in English) is an expression used to mean a particular movement of cats which consists in rhythmically alternating the front legs by pushing and releasing an object, usually as soft as a blanket, a pillow … or even your belly! Not all cats do it in the same way: some for example use all four legs. Let's find out together when cats make "pasta".


The causes

Not all cats "knead", it is simply a common behavior to young and adult cats, so it is likely that you have also observed it in your cat: whether it uses two or all four legs, whether or not it retracts its nails, whether or not it purrs at the same time, it is always the same gesture.

There are many theories as to what drives this movement - some cats do it while being petted or cuddled, but they can also do it for no reason.

Ask for milk

Cats start making pasta when they are little ones, when they are not yet able to walk around on their own and their mother is still breastfeeding them. In this case, "kneading" in the area of the maternal breast is precisely an instinctive gesture for stimulate milk production. But why then do they continue to do so even when they grow up? Although "kneading" a soft surface does not produce any milk, adult cats associate that type of movement with the moment they receive care and affection.

cat stretches
cat stretches

Show affection

If your cat is snuggled up on you and uses this gesture on your body, perhaps while you are stroking him, he is reciprocating your affection by telling you that he loves you too. Unfortunately for you it could be a bit painful: the happier the cat, the stronger it will sink its paws! Not all cats pull out their nails when they make pasta, but if things get too intense try inserting a soft, thick barrier (like a pillow) between you and the cat, or place it on its back by stroking its belly. In any case do not punish the cat, because he doesn't realize he's hurting you!


Cats like to be able to move freely and to do so they love to get rid of some "aftermath" of the previous nap. Making pasta allows them to stretch holding on to an object and unfastening your joints… until it's time to go back to sleep.

Prepare the ground

In the wild, the ancestors of cats preferred soft surfaces for sleeping or giving birth. By kneading a soil made of grass or leaves they made sure they had a comfortable bed in which to lie down, and warded off the presence of possible unwanted guests under the foliage.

cat kneads blanket
cat kneads blanket

Mark the territory

Cats are very protective of what they consider their territory, and one of the ways they use to mark it is through their own smell. By kneading on a surface they release gods particular pheromones produced in glands present in their paws, and signal to other specimens that that object (or that human, in your case!) is now their property.

Attracting males

Cats have another reason for kneading: when they go into heat, this gesture indicates to the male that she is willing to mate.