If you’ve ever seen a cat pawing at your face, it’s a natural response. A kitten is learning to navigate the world, and cats often want to see what they can get away with.
Does your cat have a habit of pawing at your face? If so, don’t worry. This behavior is quite normal and will soon stop after a few days. But you should definitely get it checked out if it’s been going on for weeks or months.
Many people ask us if we have a solution for the dreaded cat paw. We don’t. But we do have some insight into the reasons your cat may be pawing at you.
Why Does My Cat Paw My Face?
Your cat is using their paws to scent you.
Scent glands are found in the paws of cats. When your cat rubs his or her paw against your face or kneads your face, they are transferring some of their scent to you. Other cats will recognize you as theirs if they come into touch with you. It’s like to a cat scratching something.
Another sort of territorial marking behavior is this. Accept this act as a charming expression of devotion, and be happy that your cat doesn’t use its claws on your face the way it does your sofa (speaking from personal experience on this one). Your cat wants everyone to know that you are their property. If you didn’t realize it before, this is your cat’s way of expressing, “I own you human.”
Your cat wants you to wake up.
Our animal pets’ desire to give us love taps may appear lovely and lovable, but it isn’t necessarily the tender gesture we think it is. It may just be our cat telling us that it’s time to wake up and feed me. Your cat may be bored and want you to wake up and spend time with them even if it isn’t dinner time.
Instead of howling in my ear, putting his bum in my face, or draping his massive Persian tail over my nose, I wish my cat would use this technique. It would be much pleasant and less startling to wake up with a delicate paw to the face. It’s a good day for everybody who is woken by soft paw touches on the cheek! There are a lot of other methods for a cat to gain your attention that aren’t nearly as enjoyable.
Your face looked like a comfortable place to rest their feet.
While we would want to credit a lovely purpose or a very cat-like cause for our cat’s behavior, this is not always the case.
It’s possible that your cat stretched and landed on your face, where it stayed. Consider how many times you’ve stretched out and stayed in that posture because it felt wonderful or because you were too sluggish to shift. Cats may be similarly obnoxious. For the first time, our feline companions may be acting in an unselfish manner.
Your cat could be returning the favor of you petting them.
Cats appreciate head rubs, chin scratching, ear massages, and a variety of other affectionate gestures. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would wish to repay the favor. So, when they touch your face, they are essentially “petting” you back.
When you think about it, this is rather adorable. It’s comforting to know that they appreciate and adore the affection we show them. And they are so grateful that they want to repay the favor in the only manner they know how.
Your cat is testing you.
Some people may be surprised to learn that cats do not instinctively trust their owners. We must win their confidence. This is simpler with kittens than it is with older cats, in my experience. When I have a cat that I’ve kept since they were a kitten, they instantly warm up to me and welcome me. It’s almost as if I had a child. You’ve been such an important part of their lives for so long that they don’t know anybody else exists.
Older cats are a completely other animal. They have developed routines and personalities. You may not know their whole history if you adopted them from a shelter or rescue.
It’s possible that the cat came from a bad home and is wary of humans. It is our responsibility to try hard to gain their trust. Putting their paws on your face without first using their claws might be a manner of putting you to the test. If your cat can keep their paws where they are and you don’t try to harm him or her, he or she may come to tolerate you. Make certain you pass the exam!
To Get Your Attention
I don’t know about you, but I grew up believing that cats are self-sufficient creatures who don’t want assistance. While this is somewhat true, house cats that share their lives with a single human demand attention.
According to a recent research, cats “share social qualities formerly assigned solely to dogs and humans.” In reality, much like a human newborn, cats may create secure and insecure relationships.
So, whether your cat is more needy or confident in your connection may influence why and how frequently they rest their paw on your face. Cats will try to get your attention in a variety of ways.
A hungry cat will meow from another room, or from next to their empty food dish, and if your cat is begging for affection, they may show you their belly or sleep on your computer.
Physical touch is, of course, one of the most common ways for a human or even a cat to get someone’s attention. Take a look at how this black cat uses his paw to patiently seek attention from his owner.
I’ve had my cats do the same to my face as this hairy cat taps their owner’s arm, especially if I ignore them and they’re close enough to reach me with their paws. When this happens, they generally want to snuggle with me or request that I make room on my lap for them.
If your cat is rubbing your face and demanding attention, figure out whether it’s for food, cuddling, petting, or something special to them, such as opening the balcony door.
To Mark You With Their Scent
We’ve spoken a lot about cats’ inherent desire to mark their territory, whether they’re wild or not. Urine spray marking or putting claw markings on trees are the most prevalent methods. Our tamed house cats aren’t much different, yet felines leave their imprint in a different way.
Scent glands may be found on several areas of a cat’s body, the most frequent being on the forehead. So, when your cat headbutts you or other cats, it’s a social exchange of odors and a method for them to say hello.They also have smell glands on their paws, which they may utilize to establish territory by scratching the furniture and producing pheromones. Your cat doesn’t perceive you as an item to be claimed when they mark your face with their paw; instead, they identify you as a member of their family. This is especially prevalent in multicat households, when one cat may rub against your face or lay their paw on it to reestablish their smell on you.
To Show You Love
These two things can also indicate your kitty’s devotion, whether they’re rubbing your face with their paw for attention or to mark you. We don’t expect people we don’t like to pay attention to us, and cats are no exception. Marking us is also part of their love language, as moms do to their kittens and connected cats do to each other.
It’s nevertheless worth noting that when your furry overlord uses their paw to express devotion, it’s a one-of-a-kind gesture. They keep their claws sheathed and are typically gentle and delicate. When you and your cat are snuggling on the couch, they will reach out to stroke your face while purring loudly.You’ll notice that they’re melting in your presence and giving you the slow blink if you pay attention to their body language. The slow pace of their putting their paw on your face might appear to be kneading in certain circumstances. While kneading is a gesture of affection, your cat may not realize that your skin is too delicate for their claws, so be cautious whenever this happens.
They Want To Play
Looking for distinct characteristics like the sort of movement, the pace, and whether the claws are sheathed or unsheathed in a cat’s paw language. These minor characteristics might provide insight into your cat’s mental process. If your cat reaches out to touch your face, arm, or leg and then instantly flees, they’re typically in a playful mood and want to play. This fun motion, unlike the delicate paw movement of affection, may resemble tapping or swatting, similar to what toddlers do with their stuffed animals.
This might have been triggered by the movement of your hair or even your nose, which they may have tried to bite! Your cat may simply be bored and wants you to move the ribbon instead of playing with their toys. If your cat is licking your face and asking to be played with, the greatest thing you can do is play with them.
“If you don’t offer your cat with opportunity for predatory behaviors, he may grow fat, bored, and dissatisfied,” according to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. He might develop a stress-related illness or become violent against you and other pets in your home.”
If I don’t respond, my cat will tap me with their paw and then rush to their toy to show me what that tap was for. So, pay attention to your cat’s general behavior and body language to distinguish between a love touch and a fun paw tap.
It’s A Sign Of Trust
If you’re a novice cat owner or have acquired a shy feline, their gentle paw on your face might be a method for them to test the waters or indicate that they trust you. Cats use their paws to investigate the world around them, and they frequently bat at things to see what happens.
This approach may be used by naturally cautious cats or cats who have been traumatized by prior owners to discover if they can trust the human who has adopted them. They may be attempting to determine what will happen if they touch their new owner: play, snuggling, or an unpleasant experience.
If you’re in close vicinity, cats who have been taught to play aggressively and attack their owners as a technique to create a fun engagement may touch your face. If your cat, on the other hand, softly places his paw on your face while you’re snuggling, they’re demonstrating that they’re comfortable being thus near to you.
“Providing the cat with choice and control is crucial to ensuring they feel happy and comfortable during encounters,” says Dr. Lauren Finka, a top researcher in feline behavior. This includes gently extending a hand to the cat and allowing it to determine whether or not to interact, as shown by the cat rubbing against the person’s hand.” If you’ve done everything you can to make your cat feel at ease, they’ll approach you by caressing your face.
Allowing your new kitty to make the first step, like as caressing you with their paw, is also crucial to establishing a good cat-human connection built on mutual trust!
They’re Mimicking Your Behavior
We spend the majority of our interactions with our cats through physical touch since it might be difficult to grasp the significance behind their behavior because they don’t speak our language. We pat them and touch their faces, so it’s reasonable to infer that when a cat places its paw on our face, it’s because they’re imitating our behavior.
This might be our way of anthropomorphizing our cats, much as many people mistakenly label cats as wicked when they witness them playing with their prey, while in reality, it’s a hunting activity driven by their desire to survive.
While the latter is somewhat accurate, researchers have discovered a Japanese cat named Ebisu who is a dead ringer! “People think of cats as isolated and antisocial,” says Kristyn Vitale of Unity College, “but our study underscores the concept that they’re watching us and learning from us.” If we believe Vitale, there are cats that can imitate human behavior on a bigger or lesser scale.
One of my cats has opened a sliding door that they would not have known was feasible if I hadn’t already opened it!
They’re Claiming Their Personal Space
Not every paw on our face is a gesture of affection; in certain situations, it might be your cat’s technique of establishing separation from you. Cats are recognized for their independence, and they often expect humans to respond in accordance with their wants and expectations, which might alter due to the unpredictable nature of cats.
Instead of the normal gentle purr or beautiful little meow of acknowledgement, you’re welcomed with a paw as you swoop in to give your kitten a kiss on their cute little nose. I’m sure you’ve seen films of cats blocking their owners’ approaching faces with their paws as they try to kiss them, and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it yourself.
If you haven’t seen it before, here’s one that is sure to make you chuckle!
This motion is normally placid, but if you press too hard, your kitten may either get up and go or push that paw against you more violently, as shown in this video. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to your cat, or in this case, your cat’s paws, and to respect their boundaries.
They Were Stretching
While interpreting your kitty’s body language would surely help your connection and educate you when is the ideal moment to offer them some affection, a paw in your face might simply be a coincidence. You may be on the lookout for a reason, but it’s possible that your feline buddy was merely stretching when their paw fell on your face. Some cats will withdraw their paw as soon as it settles on your face, while others may find the posture to be comfortable enough to leave it there.
Why Does My Cat Put His Paw On My Face When I’m sleeping?
I believe there is no sweeter lullaby than a cat’s purr and the gentle warmth of their hair when they settle down to sleep next to you, and it must be one of the finest feline compliments since cats will only do this if they feel safe around you, especially when they are at their most vulnerable.
Cats will also sleep in various positions and locations of the bed. One of my cats loves to burrow beneath the blankets before moving to my feet, while the other prefers to sleep on my pillow. Sometimes the kitten that sleeps next to my face will rest his paw on my hair and it often ends up on my face.
Touching or rubbing against you while you’re sleeping is usually a sign of trust and love, and it could be part of their usual kneading behavior before going to sleep. This normally signals a nice night, but if it happens in the middle of the night, I know it’s my kitties trying to wake me up and demand my attention. The reasons for a cat putting its paw on your face to wake you awake range from one cat to the next. They could be hungry, they might want to play, or they might just want you to move over.
Should I Stop My Cat From Touching My Face?
As endearing as their smooth paw on your cheek may be, it might have unintended repercussions. First and foremost, keep in mind that accidents do happen. We’re confronted with a weapon our kittens employ to defend or attack us when they place their paws on our faces. They usually keep their claws sheathed, but if anything startles them or stimulates the fight or flight reflex, you could get a scratch.
Even though your cat’s paws are stretched towards your face, the claw tips might retract and snag on your skin.
Remember that there’s no need to blame or yell at our cats if this happens because it’s not something they can control, especially if they’re terrified or frustrated. After all, we are in charge of how we treat our feline companions and how comfortable and calm we make them feel in our presence.
Aside from unintentional incidents, having your cat’s paw on your face isn’t the healthiest thing to do. Our cats are allowed to go around the home, use the litter box, and some may even be allowed to go outside.
Cats are clean creatures, but that doesn’t imply they’re properly groomed. While feline illnesses mostly affect cats, some can also infect people, which are known as zoonotic infections. You’ve probably heard of a couple of these diseases, such as salmonella infection, which may occur if a cat catches and eats a bird.
Ringworm is a skin illness that manifests as a “round, red, itchy lesion with a ring of scale around the perimeter.” Toxoplasmosis is the most well-known of these infections, according to Cornell University. While most people infected with Toxoplasma exhibit no symptoms, “those with compromised immune systems and newborns whose mothers are infected during pregnancy can acquire serious sickness from this parasite.”
That’s why, especially if your cat is an outdoor cat, you should wash your hands after petting them and avoid having them lie on your pillow. Similarly, it’s advisable not to allow your cat place his or her paw on your face in case they scratch you or cause anything as minor as skin irritation.
There are so many other ways to show your kitten that you love them and that they love you back that I’m confident we can do without paws!
How Do I Stop My Cat From Touching My Face?
When you’re dealing with undesired feline behavior, the first step is to figure out what’s causing it. As I previously stated, there are a variety of reasons why your cat is stroking your face. If your cat puts his paw on your face while you’re sleeping or taps you repeatedly, it’s probable that they’re hungry or bored and want to play. In rare occasions, I’ve been startled awake by my cat smacking me across the face because a toy mouse had gotten lost in my hair, or they wanted me to shift to make room for them.
An automated meal feeder was important in resolving the incessant mewing and paw patting. This simple remedy comes highly recommended, and it’s a terrific way to avoid your cat’s frustrated hunger meows all day. You may read our evaluation of five various feeders or go straight to Amazon to discover my top selection, the Cat Mate C500! Your hungry kitten will have no cause to tap you in the face, I guarantee!
Cats are nocturnal hunters, so it’s conceivable that your kitten is disturbing your sleep because they’re bored. The greatest approach to ensure that your kitty partner sleeps through the night is to tire them out before bedtime by playing with them. Keeping the bedroom off-limits can also help you get a good night’s sleep by reducing your cat’s paw interventions.
The same desire for hunting activities might arise during the day, and if your cat repeatedly putting his or her paw on your face to commence play, it’s time to stop. Find out what toys your cat like and replicate a hunting experience for him. You’ll be helping your kitten keep active and healthy both psychologically and physically this way! If, on the other hand, snuggling is what they want, you may either give in or use positive reinforcement to modify the manner they seek petting.
“It is critical that undesired behavior is not accidentally rewarded,” according to Feline Practitioners. Ignoring or diverting unpleasant conduct is the most effective strategy to get rid of it.”
Remove their paw off your face and wait a few seconds before patting them instead of petting them right away or worse, yelling at them. Assist them in breaking the link between caressing and putting their paw on your face. Slowly, your cat will realize that this is not the way they want to employ to receive hugs or any attention from you.
Cats can be trained, but changing old behaviours that have been reinforced by your acceptance over time may take longer. If you’re having trouble altering this tendency, make sure your face isn’t within reach of your kitty’s paw as often as possible. Last but not least, be patience with your furry companion since all they want to do is show you love!
Cats don’t have claws because they can’t use them. They’ve been designed to make an amazing scratching post. Cats need to scratch their claws on things that are sturdy and rough. This is how they exercise and clean themselves. It’s in their nature to scratch on things, not bite.