When good knits go bad, and then become (really, really) good again

It was about a year ago to the day that I abandoned knitting Alpaca Twill, an undeniably gorgeous sweater coat designed by Norah Gaughan. The yarn I purchased for this project, Classic Elite Princess in Ladylike Leaf, languishes in my stash, but today we’ll talk about what happened to the two sleeves I actually finished knitting.

At first I wanted to frog them, and holding two or three strands together, recycle the yarn into a little garter stitch blanket for our kitty. But when I showed the sleeves to Her Royal Furriness, she was interested in them just as they were!

And… she doesn’t just rest her furry little head on the sleeve or cuddle with it! She kneads it! I’ve never seen a cat do this before – she plants her little bum, grabs a corner of the sleeve, then digs her front paws into the fabric, all while generously purring. She usually kneads right before going to sleep or resting.

This “bad knit turned good” was especially important over the past few days – our furry baby had surgery on Tuesday, and the sleeve accompanied her during her stay at the vet. (You can see where they shaved her paw for the IV in the photo above.) Kitty is recovering wonderfully (knock on wood!) and this morning I was able to capture the sometimes elusive kneading on camera.

When Kitty is kneading, all is well :).


96 thoughts on “When good knits go bad, and then become (really, really) good again

  1. Deedee (Antevasin)

    My furry baby just started this patty-cake business this morning! He’s just 11 months old and discovered my fan and feather stole that lies at the foot of my bed. Little stinker! :=)

  2. Shelda

    That’s really, really cute! I’ve seen cats do that for a moment or two, just until they get settled. But never for that long. And I love how she has it caught in her teeth too.

    Somehow I bet she doesn’t mind at all that those were originally intended for sleeves!

  3. Jordi

    Just as you remarked about purring, I was wondering if she was. My girl kneads everything, including me, but she doesn’t hold the item in her mouth while doing it. That was fun to watch.

  4. pia

    so cute!!!! my pup does that with one specific pillow, its too funny…

    hope the kitty’s recovery is going well!

  5. Mackenzie

    Aww kitty! My cat used to do that all the time. We thought that it was because we had raised her since she was three days old and so she never got a chance to knead while nursing. But be careful! She ended up destroying a couple of my favorite chenille pillows.

  6. Gisi

    What an adorable vidso πŸ™‚

    And what a nice kitty. Our cat would have eaten me alive had I come this close with my camera!

  7. Birdy

    My kitty, Gina, ALWAYS kneads me, just like she’s nursing. She’ll press her little face to my stomach or leg or arm and just knead away…for ages. I’ve never seen her knead anything but a person. I also think it’s a sign she was weaned too early. But her kneading also really sweet.

  8. Karen

    This is so familiar to me. We had a boy cat, Spinney, who appropriated a knit scarf (one I didn’t make). He did the same thing and sometimes took it for a walk, trailing it between his four feet. We named his scarf Suzette.

  9. mari

    My kitty does the same thing when she is making herself comfortable. Her favorite is the hand knit throw my mil made us.

  10. rachel m

    my younger cat LOVES to knead. she’ll sit on top of me and knead my stomach for hours if i’ll let her. sometimes if she really gets going, she’ll start to drool. we also have two fleece blankets that she loves. cats are fabulous things, yeah?

  11. Sarah L.

    Our cat does the kneading thing, too, on any sort of fabric she can find, but she particularly loves hand knits. I have to be really careful about picking up my sweaters. If I leave one where she can get to it, she’s on it immediately. She doesn’t bite the fabric though, that one is new to me. Pretty cute!

  12. Hope

    How adorable was that? πŸ™‚

    I had a big ole black cat named Spazz who had the strongest feet known to cat-kind. Sometimes he would be kneading his little heart out and would actually pinch some skin between his toes.. Never ceased to surprise me, either. I would be lulled into cat-breading bliss and then YOINK~!

    Perhaps I will make the next kitty a pretty scarf, yours make kitties+knits look natural.

  13. Jo

    Your baby looks just exactly like my Essie (short for Goddess)! She even kneads the same! Her favorite is alpaca laceweight, still in the skein. We will. Not. Discuss how many hours that took to unravel! But it makes her incredibly happy!

  14. monogirl

    My cat only kneads on Lion Brand Homespun. Go figure.

    Glad your kitty is doing well.

  15. Nessa

    My 4 year old saw this over my shoulder and exclaimed “she’s makin cookies!!” πŸ™‚ She is such a sweet little kitty, I love how much she loves that sleeve!!

  16. Tana

    I think the kneading thing is from when they are kittens – they do it to get more milk. I had two cats once – young, teenage cats – and one got hit by a car. The other one went over to our Collie and would lay down next to him in the “nursing” position and knead him. That was how she grieved. Very interesting!

  17. curtiosity

    It’s called a “milk tread” and is used by kittens to stimulate the flow of milk. Many cats continue the behavior when they are sleepy or under stress. It’s a comfort/security thing.

  18. Angie

    Yes, we had one that did that, too. Hubby called it “making bread”, and it was always part of her snuggle ritual. Interestingly, she was also the only cat we ever had who licked… affectionately, like a dog… while she was snuggling.

  19. Mandy

    Wow, that is one happy kitty! I could hear her purring most of the time. I think it’s funny that she kept dragging her blankie backwards away from you. Her expression seemed to say ‘No, you can’t have it back, its mine!” I haven’t knitted my kids anything in a while; I may see if I can find some of the yarn – I’m curious if it’s the yarn, or just your kitty. I’m sure it smells like home to her, so I bet it was a great comfort to her at the vet. Hope recovery goes quickly!

  20. Teyani

    oh, so dear πŸ™‚

    One of my kitties does exactly the same thing! too funny.

    I hope that her recovery from surgery is very speedy.

  21. Sarah

    Our dearly departed cat, Pooky Bear, was booted out of a hay mow by his mother when he was just a wee kitten on a Vermont dairy farm. He was subsequently found and mothered by my husband. This involved “bottle” feeding. In actuality it was big-ass syringe and then Ziploc bag with the corner cut off feeding, the later being especially messy since all that paw kneading action poked tiny holes in the bag. Quite a sprinkler show. Anyway, the sucking and kneading business persisted long after he was weaned and into his kitty adulthood. His object of choice was generally not a plush knitted sleeve or two, but rather particularly ripe socks. Got his motor going every time. Handknit wasn’t a requirement. Just stinky-ness. Your furry one seems very high-class in comparison.

  22. Leslie

    My Sassy had a thing for my nightgown – any nightgown as long as it had my scent on it. Purring, kneading, sucking — since he was a big boy (16#) there was a lot of slobber and I ended up having one nightgown reserved just for his use. It was how he went to sleep in bed every night until he died 15 long years ago.

    Congratulations, Kathy! You’re a mother πŸ™‚

  23. sue Treiber

    My kitties do this all the time. When they start to drool, then you know you’re in trouble!

  24. marie in florida

    oh…bless her heart. i had one that slept in one spot in the living room, regardless of how we changed the furniture, that was her spot. aren’t they wonderfully fickle creatures? aren’t we lucky to be their friends?

  25. Catherine

    Too, too, cute πŸ™‚

    Just keep an eye on the mouthing thing, though. If she starts to chew it seriously, string inside a kitty is not so cute. It means an express trip to the vet, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to go there again in a hurry – and neither do you.

  26. paula

    Hey miss…

    I’ve seen almost every cat I know do this! It’s a hold over from when they were baby kitties. Most people I know call it “Makin’ Biscuits.” Hehe. I’ll say to Harkuki “Are you makin’ biscuits cutie? Are ya?”

    I read that if they get on top of you and knead you it means they feel totally comfy with you, love you LOTS and think of you as their parent.

    Isn’t that sweeeet???

    Your cat is beautiful. πŸ™‚

  27. Amy

    Wow, she gets her motor running. You can tell she’s in this state of content. I also will chime in that she’s beautiful.

  28. ThatLoganChick

    So sweet!

    My Peanut (yep, cat) watched the video for a few seconds, then went bananas, scratching and pawing at the screen, right on Kitty’s face (sorry, Kitty!). When you tipped the camera sideways she got all puffed up and ran away. Very, very, very funny.

    I’m glad she’s doing well. Furbaby health scares are so hard – if only they could tell you how they’re doing. But loving the knits has to be a good sign.

  29. Kathy

    I loved watching your kitty enjoy those sleeves. My kitty, Oliver, does this same thing, only his chosen object has been a black and white toy stuffed dog, whose coloring mirrors his own. He holds the dog by an ear, and kneads away on its back/side -the thing is as flat as a pancake now. He licks it, carries it up to my bedroom every night and I find it waiting for me by the front door each day when I come home from school. I call it his ‘wife’ and he takes good care of her, and seems to adore her. I sort of thought it was a mating thing, though he’s neutered, but the kneading looks exactly the same – with purring. And, oddly enough, music often stimulates this behavior! πŸ™‚ My vet said jokingly, “Your cat is weird,” when he witnessed this at my house one day, but I find it very charming.

  30. Nic

    My two do this all the time – on the sheepskin rug, on towels, on clothes inadvertently dropped on the floor, on me and my husband when they are sat on our laps – but they never mouth it as well like Kitty!

  31. Sophia

    That was so incredibly adorable! I love that your kitty is so in love with your knitted sleeve and that you are so good to her as to give it to her!!

  32. Seanna Lea

    Our cat does this sometimes, but it’s a definite no-no when she does it on the furniture or the knitting. There’s a lot of pick her up gently and put her on the floor (or in a lap if she’s in the mood).

  33. Jessi

    My little calico Zoot does this on a microfiber pillow we have on the back of the couch for what seems like hours…It is now officially “her” pillow. You can sometimes hear her purring OVER the TV. She sometimes does it before she lays down, other times she’ll do it for a while and then jump down. We just look back at her and shake our heads. But I agree, it is cute to watch. Hope yours gets better soon.

  34. Sally

    Your Kitty really luvs your knitting! Mine get excited over different animal fibers. They really like alpaca.

  35. Beadknitter

    My cat, Chenille, likes to sit on my chest, under my chin, and suck on her left front toe (like a thumb). She purrs while she’s doing it. It’s a form of self comforting. She was taken from her mother when she was only 3 weeks old and dumped at the local shelter. We adopted her the next day. Had to get up every 2 hours to feed her until she was old enough to eat solid food. Shared the duty with my then teenage daughter. A great lesson was learned by her via this experience.

  36. Suzanne

    That was too cute and you could hear her purring. My favorite part was how she kept looking at you like you were interrupting her, but she was to busy to stop and move.

  37. jen

    How cute, and great to see that kitty is doing well. One of my cats kneads a lot, too, but doesn’t hang on to the item with her teeth. Fortunately she hasn’t latched onto any of my knitting. πŸ™‚

  38. janna

    So cute! I see that someone else calls this ‘making biscuits,’ which is what my family calls it. My Harley is quite the biscuit-maker, but she doesn’t bite whatever she’s kneading– which is a good thing, since frequently, she’s kneading my arm!

  39. Marianne

    I had a cat that did that to a blanket my Grandma made. Only, he would slobber all over it too!!

    I think it is so cute that she loves those sleeves!!!

  40. Kellie

    Too sweet! Both my kitties are long-term kneaders, typically accompanied by drooling and loud purring. They are just as likely to knead a human lap as they are blankies/cushions/bedding etc.

  41. hari

    I made a scrap blanket (leftover yarns from every project I’d done, without woven ends) before I got Cricket.. but it’s his blanket. He does like Kitty and suckles and kneads forever and ever.

    It’s nice to see that this is somewhat normal behaviour. I grew up with dogs and I am constantly surprised by the things he does. But I am eternally grateful for my little black ball of purrs and kisses. I hope Miss Kitty makes a speedy recovery and I bet she’s glad she has that lovely sleeve!

  42. Debi

    My P-Man does this ALL THE TIME! In fact he has something of an unnatural attachment to some of my knits if you know what I mean..(was it good for you too, left sock? heh)

    Your kitty looks so cute, I hope she heals well and quickly!

  43. betshsu

    My cats knead like crazy, especially the female cat. Supposedly it is related to when they are kittens, kneading their mom helps deliver the milk. Though, don’t quote me on that, I can’t recall where I learned that.

    The problematic thing regarding kneading knits is that I cap my cats’ nails with SoftPaws. When their nails get too long, sometimes knits get caught on the SoftPaw nail cap. I have to be diligent with checking that their nails aren’t too long or leaving knit items around for them to knead.

  44. michelle

    In the south we call that making biscuits. One of our cats did that, but one doesn’t.

  45. Brandy

    That is so cute! I *love* it when my cat kneads.

    I hope she is still recovering well. My little kitty went through surgery earlier this year, and it’s harder on the parents than one might think!

  46. Amanda

    We call it “making biscuits,” too. I think I may have picked that up from someone from VA. LOL.

    That’s what they do to get mama’s milk – so it’s a sign of nesting/security. Kitty loves that knitting!

  47. Judith

    my aging black walking-sofa-cushion Bean does this, especially on the back of my neck at night. He has large strong paws (all that walking to the food dish), almost as good as shiatsu.

  48. Beatriz

    Our cat recently began doing this as his morning routine for 10-15 minutes. It’s so funny to watch because he is constantly adjusting his hind legs as he’s kneading our bed sheets. And he’ll get upset if we try to distract him or attempt to interrept. I’ve got to remember to get it on tape now that I’ve seen your video.

  49. Elizabeth

    Cute! My cat used to do this also, but to garmets I was actually wearing at the time. Ouch!

    I think I read somewhere that it’s comforting to them because that’s what kittens would do to get their mothers’ milk. Not as comforting for me when Tia would do it on MY chest. =)

  50. Shea

    I’ve always heard of the cat kneading being called “making biscuits”, as in “Awww, she’s making biscuits.” It could just be a southern thing though. I love it when they do that until they decide to do it on you. Hurts like the devil when they get those claws out!

  51. mary lou

    Your kitty has the most perfect “M” marking on her forhead…have you ever heard the legend of the Virgin Mary putting her initial on the cat in the stable? Kitty also has beautiful “eye liner”. My cats love to knead knitted garments as well. One of my mini pinchers adopted my son’s furry slipper as his surrogate love object and so grossed out my son that he never wore the slippers again! I love my pets! Blogless Mary Lou

  52. Maureen

    I’ve never heard the “making biscuits” term. We always called it “knitting”.

  53. Julia

    Thank you for sharing such a precious video! I have had many cats over the years and have had only a few that kneaded like that. One cat in particular named Maxwell seemed to always knead and suck on something pink. Weird but I swear it’s true. Anyway, whatever you do…DON’T FROG!!!

  54. Gail

    When Kitty is kneading, all is well :).

    That line and the purring and the kneading just about relaxed me to sleep. Sweet.

  55. sandy

    Our cats do this too! We have an ubber soft blanket that one cat in particular would go nuts doing this. Its a comfort for them, like nursing. I love cats!!

  56. Mary B

    Soooo cute and the purring came through loud and clear. Hope kitty recovers quickly. All six of my kitties do this kneading behavior too, but only on wool items. They each have their own kitty pads made from Lopi knit in garter stitch using 2 strands with the resulting rectangular blanket being felted. They love to scrunch them up every night before they go to sleep on top. It seems to be a comfort thing.

  57. Laurie

    Wow, she is chewing it too. I’ve seen a lot of kneading but that was with such focus and purpose. It was more like getting a fix!

    Pretty adorable. Isn’t it nice when we can give them something that makes them that happy?

  58. Laura Neal

    I hope your kitty is okay, poor baby to have to have surgery. That is just so sweet that she loves something you knit and thought useless. See, everything has a purpose, we might not know what it is but, our animals do.

  59. Laura Sue

    OMG, I have a kitty who does the same thing, only on a store-bought throw that we call the “mommy-blanket.” She is the same color and markings as your kitty, too!

  60. Lee

    The knitting gods have a plan even if we don’t see it right away. They knew your sweet cat would need the comfort later on.

    Hope the recovery is swift and sure.

  61. Heide

    Aww, what a sweet kitty! I hope that she’s feeling better. Long ago I knitted a throw for my MIL. The entire time I knitted it my kitty would knead it and rub nostrel sauce all over the end. After it was completed (and washed) I mailed it. My kitty was frantic and quite angry. He waited until I was asleep and then he pooped on me. I had to go buy more of the same yarn and knit him his own kitty-sized blanket. He snuggled on it for years and when he died he was buried with it.

  62. Chrissl

    My oldest cat (nearly 20 now) does this — many cats will knead, many cats love natural fibers (even linen, go figure!) but my vet told me that when they take a piece of wool into their mouths and suck or pull on it, it’s often due to their having a gene called “wool-pull,” which came originally from the Siamese.

    In the absence of extra luscious handknits that the human being in the house isn’t wearing, thrift store sweaters make wonderful kitty blankets. My kitties all have their own.

    I currently have a new kitten in the house (13 weeks) and she not only kneads and licks me, but “nurses” — puts her mouth up against me and makes little sucking/kissing sounds. Sooo cute!

  63. Betsy in Claremont, CA

    We long ago had a Siamese that loved cashmere! Our current male cats, from the same litter, one kneads (we call it making tortillas) and one doesn’t. The one who does drools like crazy and kneads only in my neck. Hate to admit it, but it feels great. Like a good massage.


  64. woolies

    I love when my kitties knead stuff. It’s sometimes the couch, which isn’t the best thing to knead. Sometimes the rug, also the the greatest idea. don’t ever leave a sweater lying around, some kitty will come knead that too.


  65. Juliann

    The vets will call this “blanket sucking syndrome”. I have one cat that does this with my blankets on the bed. A behaviorist told me that it is a sign of contentment when they knead, suck, and purr. I have to wash that blanket pretty regularly since he always leaves a wet spot from the sucking and drooling. She looks pretty happy in the video. Good luck!

  66. Mari

    My boyfriend says our cat is, “making biscuits,” when she does this. Unfortunately it’s usually when she wants something from us that we’re not delivering. Even more unfortunately that something is ALWAYS food.

    Your kitty cat is super cute.

  67. Kim

    Thanks for the kitty video. I have a cat who does something very similar while sitting on my lap. She kneads and “pretends” to suck on my shirt. She doesn’t actually put it in her mouth like your kitty. She just puts her muzzle against the fabric. She tends to do this to whatever part of my body is sticking out the most and often this happens to be a breast. I’m glad no one but my hubby has ever witnessed this because it looks like I’m breastfeeding a cat.

  68. Ria

    Kitties kneading is one of the greatest things in life, I figure. :3 Your kitty also has the cutest little purr I’ve ever heard!

  69. Keisha

    As a kitten, my now 13 year old cat felted her own self a cat bed this way – with a basket of roving I’d recently been given. She still sleeps in that ‘bed’ and still occasionally knead/suckles the wool.

  70. misodiva

    So cute. I love how she keeps it in her mouth as well. And she just keeps going and going. What a happy kitty!

  71. Christine

    OMG! I thought my weirdo cat Pezmer was the only one who kneaded with whatever she was using at the time while holding it in her teeth. Pez holds it like there’s no way anyone is going to take her blanket away which is usually whatever blanket or sometimes sheet I’m using at the time. Kitties are so cute. : )

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