I was lying on my human’s lap, being properly adored, and feeling all warm and happy. I started kneading a bit with my front paws, and all of a sudden, my human yelped and pushed me onto the floor! I was really upset and hurt. Why did she do that?
It’s happened to most of us at some point: sharing a wonderful moment with our favourite human, who in many ways becomes our mother, we feel relaxed and trusting, loved and loving.
It reminds us subconsciously of the way we felt as tiny kittens (yes, you were one!) with the centre of our universe at the time, Momcat. When we were nursing, we felt her purr, and responded with little purrs of our own, and we felt the warmth of her body and the bodies of littermates and the warmth of the milk in our tummies. We kneaded at her belly with our paws then as an instinctive way to encourage more milk. Momcat was happy, we were happy, and all was right in the world.
However, when we begin to make the same motions on our human (possibly salivating just a little – really, you aren’t the only one, lots of us do it), instead of responding with the same love we’re feeling and displaying, they suddenly push us away, leaving us confused and, yes, upset by the abrupt rejection for no apparent reason.
Well, here’s the answer: when you were a tiny kitten (honestly, you WERE one!), your claws were also tiny. Sure, they were sharp even then, but they could barely prick skin. Your Momcat had fur to protect her, but more importantly, she was deep in pleasure of her own – many females show every sign of enjoyment when nursing – and she understood what you were doing. You’re not a kitten anymore, and those little claws have become (or, if you’re young still, are on the way to becoming) the lethal hunting weapons of an adult cat, the bane of mice and sundry small living things. When you flex them repeatedly, doing what some humans call ‘making biscuits,’ you’re very likely to be digging into skin. Keep in mind, humans have no fur, only bare skin they cover with other stuff, and they can be fragile.
If you have a thoughtful human willing to make a little effort, and if you can stand to have your paws handled (or learn to stand it), a good compromise is for her or him to trim the very ends of your claws every week or two. That way you can make all the same motions without causing pain. There are also little soft plastic caps that can be glued over your nails to keep them from doing damage, and they come in some very stylish colours – your human just has to trim, then glue the caps in place, and they’ll come off with the sheath next time you shed it.
Alternatively, your human could just keep a towel or blanket near the place or places where you tend to have these moments, and gently slide it between your claws and their body when necessary.
Either way, then you can both enjoy these intimate and special moments without distraction or interruption!