One curious behavior of many cats is that they knead their paws back and forth. Initially people thought cats kneaded because they were weaned from their mothers too early because kneading helps stimulate milk production from the mother’s glands. However, that myth has been debunked as cats of all types continue kneading regardless of when they were weaned from their mother.
The most likely explanation is that cats knead because they’re content or to soothe themselves. Perhaps the next time you’re feeling stressed, try kneading your hands together. It just might work, especially if you have a cat in your lap when you do it.