Q: I recently took in an eight-year-old cat and had him sterilised. He likes to knead on the blanket he uses for long periods, and when I call him over for meals or try to take the blanket away, he mews angrily and digs his claws into it. What is wrong?
A: Kneading is the paw-pushing action that kittens do when they are nursing from their mother cats. It has a calming effect on the cat, as it reminds him of comfort, warmth, and having a full belly. As such, some cats knead when they are happy and relaxed. What your cat is demonstrating is not very common, but it is a perfectly acceptable behaviour that should not be discouraged. In fact, it is ideal to allocate him a special spot—a “kitty corner” if you will—where he can be left alone to knead contently and have alone time.
It only becomes unacceptable when there is aggression during play sessions with his blanket. Although mouthing and clawing are relatively common play and predatory actions, a well-brought up cat should be able to distinguish between them. If he can’t, it might be a sign of poor kittenhood, which is common with cats that are raised without a mother or siblings.
Orphaned kittens raised by humans sometimes fail to gauge the intensity of their bites and clawing. A lot of times, fosterers unintentionally encourage kittens to carry on this “rude” behaviour by offering their fingers and hands to “play”. This leads to the kittens thinking that it is acceptable to attack peoples’ hands and feet, resulting in accidents once they’re rehomed. These cats have little understanding of pain, and do not know the damage their sharp fangs and claws can cause.If this is the case with your newly adopted cat, redirect his attention and energy by keeping him entertained with plenty of toys and puzzle feeders. Swap the toys around on a regular basis to keep them fresh and interesting. You can also grow some cat grass so he can munch on them from time to time.