What Is Smurgling in Cats?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

A lot of cats smurgle, so you might have already seen your kitty exhibiting this behavior, even if you didn’t know what it was called.

K Lim/Shutterstock

What is smurgling in cats? What does it look like? And is it considered a normal behavior or is it something that you need to address? Here’s a quick breakdown of what it’s all about so you can get to know cats – especially your little feline companion – a bit better.  


What Is Smurgling?

You’ve heard of cats kneading (also known as making biscuits), and it’s definitely one of the many super cute things they do. Kneading is a behavior that kittens instinctively perform because, while nursing, they use their paws to push in on their mom’s belly – this action helps get the milk flowing so they can get the delicious nourishment they need. When this action is seen in adult cats, some people refer to it as smurgling.

Some cats will only knead with their paws while smurgling, while others will also do other things that are reminiscent of nursing kittens. For example, when a cat smurgles, there may also be suckling or nibbling. Or, they might put their face to the blanket that they’re kneading, close their eyes, and act as though they’re right back at their mother’s belly. Cats who salivate or drool while smurgling may even leave a wet spot on their blanket or bed – sure, it can be a little gross, but it’s all coming from a good place, so try not to get annoyed. 


Cats will start purring when kneading or smurgling, too, so this is another sign that they’re content and cozy, just like when they were a kitten with their mom. 

Why Do Cats Smurgle? Is Smurgling Normal?

Kittens aren’t the only ones who smurgle; adult cats will continue exhibiting this behavior when they’re happy, showing affection, or getting ready to snuggle in for a nap. It’s a totally normal feline behavior, and you shouldn’t discourage your kitty from smurgling or kneading, nor should you get upset or angry about it because it’s essentially a sign of contentment as well as a sign that your pet feels safe in your home with you.

Note: You might have heard that cats who were taken from their moms too soon, bottle fed, or weaned too early might be more likely to smurgle or suckle on objects as adults. This might be true for some kitties. However, smurgling is a behavior that is seen in adults who were properly weaned and spent enough time with their mothers, so it isn’t always a sign of premature separation.

Again, smurgling is normal, harmless, and, ultimately, a positive behavior that you don’t need to worry about. In fact, if your cat snuggles up next to you while you’re lying under a blanket, and they start kneading and suckling on the blanket, they are showing you how much they love you and consider you family.

Products for Cats That Smurgle

If you have a cat that smurgles a lot, there are some products you can consider purchasing for them to make them even happier. Here are a couple recommendations:

First up, your cat is sure to appreciate a large, plush, and soft pet blanket that they can cuddle into and use for kneading and smurgling. If your pet likes the feel of Sherpa under their paws, check out the PetAmi Waterproof Fluffy Pet Blanket. It comes in multiple colors and sizes, and it features Sherpa on both sides. Plus, it’s waterproof and machine washable, so you won’t need to worry if messes happen. You can throw this stylish blanket on your sofa or bed and use it for staying warm and cozy with your feline friend. 

Another option is to get your kitty their own pet bed that they climb into whenever they want to smurgle. A good example is the Best Friends by Sheri Cozy Ilan Cuddle Cup. Its soft and plush material is irresistible to cats, who will enthusiastically climb in and start kneading. Plus, it has high sides all around so your furry friend will feel totally supported and secure, and the sides also serve as a comfy place to rest their head. Choose from multiple sizes and colors to match the rest of your room’s décor.

Do Your Cats Smurgle?

Smurgle is a fun term that pet parents use to describe a very common feline behavior, yet different cats may do it a little differently, and you might notice this if you share your home with more than one kitty. For instance, some might knead and suckle, while others might just knead and purr, and some cats might smurgle more often than others. No matter the style, rest assured that this is typical feline behavior that makes them all the more lovable.  

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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