We've got a solo cat who we rescued a year ago. He was a street cat (adopted at 5yrs) and took some time adapting to domestic life. He's always been in favor of snuggles but about a week ago, he started kneading on the bed/pillows, waking us both up. He's occasionally done this before, desiring attention, but this time around it's near-constant and whenever we try to pet him, he chirps and recoils.
According to my research, this can happen when a cat is removed from their mother too early, and he's decided I'm his surrogate mother (a problem, as I don't lactate). He's on a diet, we've tried to compensate by feeding him right before we go to bed, with little success. Last night we escalated to the nuclear option - kicking him out of the bedroom completely. Is there some solution where we don't have to kick him out but the kneading stops?