Q. My kitten has started kneading the blankets at night. When I try to pet him, he gets aggressive. What does this mean?

A. It may be a sexualized kneading behavior, Kneading could be construed as part of the mating ritual in male cats. The behavior starts with kneading a human for several minutes, often when you are stroking your cat. You will notice your cat start to purr with his paws increasing in both speed and pressure. Some cats will even start to salivate.

If you don't intervene by moving away, your male cat may become more aggressive thinking that it is mating with a female cat (in this case you). Unfortunately this aggressiveness could include its nails deeply digging into your skin, a normal mating behavior. If you try to move away, some cats will actually attack its owner.

To correct aggressive kneading behavior you should consider:

1. Neutering your cat

2. Establish Play Behavior with Objects such as Toys - To correct this behavior you first need to add more structure to play time. One approach is to plan two play sessions a day, in morning and night. Structure play around a toy or string so that aggressive behavior is directed away from people.

3. Change the way you pet your cat - If you feel like your cat is starting to engage in one of the negative behaviors described above then don't stroke you cat with long strokes. Use short strokes that are quick. Consider changing to a play activity using toys instead of sitting and stroking.

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