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?
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.
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.
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