I've noticed that my cats pat the area where they intend to lay down for a pretty long time, 30 seconds to up to 3 minutes. Interestingly enough, this is only on soft surfaces, never on hard surfaces such as the floor. Why do they do this?

  • When I am hiking and come across a patch of muddy ground, I sometimes probe the ground ahead of me with a stick or my staff to see whether I am likely to sink in. I do not know for certain, but I would guess it is similar. The cat is using its paw to test whether a blanket or cushion will support its weight adequately.
    – cobaltduck
    Oct 18, 2016 at 17:24
  • They’re checking for snakes...
    – user10673
    Nov 2, 2017 at 23:19
  • Do you mean kneading? They can only knead soft surfaces. My cat falls down so suddenly on hard surfaces as if he got shot by a sniper :)
    – ck1987pd
    Aug 15, 2021 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


Your cat is kneading. In kittens, cats knead their mothers to get more milk out of them. An adult cat will knead when it's feeling content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mom. Some cats even suckle on what they're kneading, though I've never seen my cat do it. Beware, though, as my cat sneaks into my bed at night and painfully kneads my face. It's less funny than it sounds.

  • 1
    My two want to kneed my belly for a while before curling up next to me to sleep. If I could just convince them to kneed my back instead, that would be more useful.
    – keshlam
    Nov 16, 2016 at 4:26
  • They can also ruin a nice pair of sheets. I recommend putting a soft blanket somewhere that will attract their kneading so they don't ruin your nice sheets and such. Aug 16, 2021 at 20:19

This is an instinct every cat has. They only do this on soft surfaces and they do this to be sure the place can carry their weight. Out in nature, a very soft area is an unsafe area and it is not only cats that react to this. Humans do it too! If you are out walking and suddenly step into a very soft ground you stop without thinking.

If your cat is on a hard surface it doesn't pat the area before laying down, it only walks in a circle or two and lays down.

  • 1
    I've seen cats do this for far longer than would be required to ensure that the surface could hold their weight. It can't possibly be the only reason behind the behavior. Nov 3, 2017 at 13:08
  • Yea, it's defo the "making biscuits" that's happening more than making sure areas are safe. They don't do it on hard surfaces because they can't really push on it like their mama's belly. I've also seen cats put themselves into pretty unsafe situations without a "pat" in sight. I've also seen them do a couple of turns on a soft blanket in a box so yea not a safety check at all.
    – coblr
    Aug 18, 2021 at 0:57

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