Cats knead as a way of showing trust and affection. It is carried over from kittenhood when they would knead their mom to stimulate milkflow. In adult hood it is a display to show trust and affection to the mom-like person that filled mama cat's place, You.
Norton is kneading on the toy because the feel of the toy is probably very similar to the feel of his mom's fur. The feel of the toy and memory comforts him and takes him back to his kneading days, in which he begins kneading.
It is also common for some cats to knead with all four paws if they came from small litters where they had room to stretch out and knead with all four or sometimes it is developed as a means to keep other kittens away when nursing if they came form a large litter, so really either is a possiblity in this case.
Well, I hope this sheds a little light on the topic.
Originally Posted by clpeters23
My 7 yr old NM, Moose and my boyfriend's 9 yr old NM Norton (not in the same household) both knead with all four legs. Norton has always done this with a furry mouse toy in his mouth and Moose has just started, without a toy.
I gather this is fairly common, but some of the motions appear sexual in nature. Is kneading purely a show of love, or could it also be to release anxiety or are there other reasons?