Occasionally my cat will go from cuddling with me on my bed, to pawing at the sheets, like he is digging. At first it seemed to correlate with him discovering the option of crawling under my sheets so I thought the digging action was his way of asking permission to go under the covers. I would lift up the sheets for him and he would curiously look in and hesitantly go under. But now even when I lift up the sheets, he doesn’t go under, and as soon as I drop the sheets back down he starts pawing/digging again for a little while until he loses interest just as randomly as it started. Any ideas what this behavior means?

  • Our 3 y.o. male cat recently started making the digging motions on top of the blanket on the bed where my hubby and I sleep. He sleeps with us all night and when we are finally completely flat on our pillows and about to fall asleep, he likes to climb on top of either of us and knead. However, this slight scratching or gentle digging perplexes us as well. I noticed that he tends to “dig” only when we’re on the bed (I assume). Someone on another forum pointed out the same behavior: their cat too jumps up and digs their bed only when they’re on it. Perhaps our kitties want to play.
    – Jax
    Sep 17, 2019 at 7:10
  • same, i have a headboard and i tuck a blanket behind it so it makes a little tent for my cat and when she goes under it she goes on my pillow and starts digging with her paws/claws for a couple minutes and i keep trying to make her stop but she just goes back at it lmao i’m so confused
    – Sally
    Jul 28, 2020 at 1:12
  • I noticed the same behavior with my cat just recently. He would dig in the blanket and after few minutes he would lie down comfortably on the spot where he is digging... 😂 Sep 19, 2020 at 10:02

6 Answers 6


Does he dig-dig or does it look like he's kneading the sheets? If it's the latter, it's an artifact of when he was a kitten. Kittens knead their mommy's breasts to get the milk going, and some grown up cats do the same when they're very content. Just let him do that if it isn't making you uncomfortable.

  • 1
    It’s definitely more of the dig-dig action. I had another cat years before this current one and so I’m familiar with the kneading they all do; this is different though, it’s more like digging like they do in litter-box (but thankfully he’s never had an accident in that way so I know that has nothing to do with it here). Aug 14, 2018 at 22:02
  • @JeiLooseArrow Then I'm not sure. One of my cats does something similar -- she pushes away the blanket, crawls under it, crawls all over me, then crawls out and goes away.
    – Kaworu
    Aug 16, 2018 at 8:16

My cat does this on my floor too. I think it's not something to worry about, their instincts tell them to dig even if it's not possible/useful. Just let them do their stuff.

If it's ruining furniture/making you uncomfortable then you can always train your cat not to do that with negative reinforcements.


My kitten was recently doing the dig-dig action that he usually does in the litter box, but on the bed for me as well. I was concerned that he thought my bed was a litter box, so I grabbed and placed him in the actual litter box. Turns out he needed to poop.


I've decided the dig-dig motions are to get my arm out from under so she can rub her face on my hand. Also lately she does this when wants to get under the blanket—after 18 years—and lie beside me for a few minutes, get some strokes, then leave there and lie beside my pillow.


IIRC, there are scent glands between a cat's fingers.

Usually it's said that a cat's kneading is a reminiscence of a kitten behavior and scratching would be just territorial marking. After the discovery of exocrine interdigital scent glands - again, if I remember correctly - it's hypothesized that the cat is leaving his scent not that differently than if they were rubbing their face on you/the sheet/the sofa.


My cat goes hard core with the clawing/digging under me while I’m in bed. I personally believe it’s his way of saying, “Move the eff over, you’re in MY spot.” Because when I do move, he plops on down and is perfectly content on sitting there.

Your instance could be FAR different but, it’s a theory

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