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A neighbour's cat occasionally visits me (spayed tom) and while I enjoy his company, he has one habit that is somewhat antisocial.

He seems to really like physical contact, but will often have a significant amount of kneading behaviour coupled with excessive salivation. Sometimes the cat will swallow the salivation (you can see and hear him gulping). Other times, he won't. He will also use his claws for kneading at the same time, which can be distinctly uncomfortable if he's on one's lap.

I previously had a cat who never expressed either of these behaviours (but that cat wasn't a massive fan of physical contact, so the occasion never arose I suppose). I remember reading that this type of behaviour has a connection to a cat's memory of being a kitten (kneading and suckling from its mother). Is there any way to gently curb this behaviour?

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    Seems like the cat took a liking in you :D I think he is just showing his affection. Kneading is often a sign of conform. The drool might be a reason to consider going to a vet. Tooth or gum disease might be the cause or worse. – Totumus Maximus Oct 17 '19 at 12:37
  • That's not antisocial at all; it's in fact, the exact opposite. This cat likes you and is expressing that through his behavior. The drooling, agreed, is likely a good reason to visit a vet, but the issue with the claws is just that his aren't trimmed (which is good for a cat who's being left to roam). – Allison C Oct 17 '19 at 13:29
  • @TotumusMaximus I'd be surprised if the drool is related to anything non-psychological as it is exclusively reserved for when he's on me and gets more pronounced relative to petting. – Stumbler Oct 17 '19 at 18:40
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What you describe is completely normal for some cats, though admittedly it can be annoying for any person it decides to sit on.

If the cat is the type that likes to stand while kneading, you might try to convince it to lie down, and it will probably cease the kneading behavior. You can do this if the cat particularly likes being scratched on the chin or ears, as many cats do. Cats have a tendency to start lying down naturally when you scratch them in these places.

Another tactic is to simply pick up the cat and gently put it on the floor when it gets to be too much. Affectionate cats will probably return for more in not too long, and then you can repeat it if the cat gets to be too much again. Then you might be able to teach the cat that too much kneading means it will get put back on the floor, which is not what it wants. Or at the least, it stops the behavior temporarily, which from personal observation, seems to get more and more so the more the cat does it, so interrupting it means that it will take the cat a little while to get back to the level of kneading that is annoying.

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