Why does my cat touch my face? Your cat can use it to catch your attention, rouse you up, or make a food demand. They may be scent-marking you to show their love and trust for you. They might, however, be requesting a little privacy. Continue reading if you want to learn more about what your cat is trying to tell you when it places its paw on your face.
Why Does My Cat Touch My Face?
Contrary to what many people who aren’t cat lovers may believe, if you’ve had a cat for a while, you probably already know that our feline friends actively seek out our company and are masters at finding methods to connect with us and convey their emotions. If we take the time to observe cat body language, we can decipher that most of their meows are directed at us. But what does it signify when they place their paws on our faces?
Reason 1: To Get Your Attention
I don’t know about you, but I always thought that cats were independent beings who didn’t really need anyone. House cats who live with their chosen person crave attention, despite the fact that this is sometimes true. According to a recent study, cats “share social behaviors once assigned to dogs and humans alone.”
In reality, cats are just like human babies in their ability to create both secure and insecure relationships. Therefore, whether or not your cat is more needy or confident in your connection may influence why and how often they touch your face. Cats will try to get your attention in a variety of ways.
If your cat is begging for attention, they may show you their belly or lay on your computer. A hungry cat will meow from another room or, if it’s empty, right next to their food bowl. Of course, touching someone is one of the most typical ways for a human, or even a cat, to attract their attention. Watch for a moment how this black cat is patiently begging for his owner to pet him.
I’ve had my cats tap my face in the same way that this fuzzy cat is tapping its owner’s arm, especially if I happen to ignore them and they are close enough to reach me with their paws. When that occurs, they frequently want me to cuddle with them or create room on my lap for them to sit. You just need to determine whether your cat is pawing at your face to get your attention because they want food, cuddling, petting, or something specific to them like opening the balcony door.
Reason 2: To Mark You With Their Scent
Whether they are domesticated or feral, cats have an innate drive to mark their territory. The most popular methods are claw marks on trees and pee spray marking. Although our house cats are domesticated, there is still a way in which they leave their mark. Cats have smell glands all over their body, but the forehead is where they are most frequently found. So, when your cat headbutts you or other cats, it’s a social scent exchange and their way of saying hello.
In a similar manner, they can mark their territory by scratching furniture and releasing pheromones from smell glands on their paws. Your cat recognizes you as a part of their family when they mark your face with their paw rather than viewing you as an object to be claimed. This is even more likely to happen in a home with multiple cats, since one cat may rub up against your face or place a paw on it to reassert its fragrance on you.
Reason 3: To Show You Love
These two actions can also represent your cat’s love, whether they are done to attract your attention or to mark you. Cats are similar to humans in that they don’t demand attention from people they don’t like. The mothers would mark their kittens or mated cats would mark each other as part of their love language. They also mark us. The touch is special when your furry overlord uses their paw to express affection, and I still think that’s important to highlight. They typically keep their claws sheathed and are gentle and sensitive. Typically, your cat will reach out and purr loudly as they stroke your face while you two are cuddling on the couch.
They are melting in your presence and giving you the slow blink, if you pay attention to their body language. They sometimes put their paw on your face in a leisurely manner that resembles kneading. Although kneading is a gesture of affection, be extra careful because your cat could not realize that your skin is too soft for their claws.
Reason 4: They Want To Play
Look for subtle differences in a cat’s paw language, such as the type of movement, the pace, and whether the claws are sheathed or not. You can get a sense of your cat’s mental process from these minute details. If your cat reaches out to touch your face, arm, or leg and then bolts away before you can react, they are usually feeling playful and want to play. This fun gesture may resemble tapping or swatting, in contrast to the gentle paw movement of love, which is more akin to what they would do to their stuffed animals.
This might have been set off by the movement of your hair or even by the possibility that they were trying to playfully bite your nose. It’s possible that your cat is simply too bored to play with its toys and would rather you move the ribbon. The best thing you can do if your cat is pawing you in the face and requesting play is to engage in play yourself. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine claims that “If you don’t provide your cat the chance to engage in predatory behavior, he can get fat, bored, and angry.” “He might become ill from stress-related conditions or act violently toward you and other pets in your home.”
Usually, when my cat wants to play a game with me, she will meow to attract my attention. If I don’t respond, she will tap me with her paw and then rush to her toy to show me what she was tapping for. As a result, pay attention to your cat’s overall demeanor and body language to distinguish between a loving touch and a fun paw tap.
Reason 5: It’s A Sign Of Trust
If you’re a novice cat owner or you’ve acquired a frightened cat, their soft paw placement on your face may be a means for them to test the waters or demonstrate their trust in you. Cats frequently bat objects to observe what occurs since they use their paws to investigate their surroundings.
Cats that are naturally cautious or those who have experienced trauma from prior owners may employ this strategy to test whether they can trust the person who has adopted them. They may be attempting to determine whether touching their new owner will result in play, cuddling, or an unpleasant encounter. If they are close to you, cats who have been trained to play violently and attack their owners in order to start a playful interaction may tap your face. On the other hand, if your cat gently places his paw on your face while you’re cuddling, they’re actually expressing how comfortable they feel being thus near to you.
Dr. Lauren Finka, a leading expert on feline behavior, claims “To make the cat happy and comfortable during encounters, it’s important to provide them choice and control. This is extending a gentle hand to the cat and letting it determine whether or not it wants to interact. The cat will typically signal its want to interact by rubbing against the person’s hand.” Your cat may touch your face as a way of approaching you if you’ve taken every precaution to make them feel at ease. Allowing your new cat to initiate contact with you, such as by touching you with their paw, is therefore essential for establishing a trust-based relationship between cats and people.
Reason 6: They’re Mimicking Your Behavior
Since cats don’t actually speak our language, it can be challenging to interpret their behavior, so we tend to engage with our cats most often through physical contact. We touch and pet them, so it makes sense that when a cat places its paw on our face, it is imitating our actions. It’s possible that we’re anthropomorphizing our cats in this way since so many people accuse cats of being evil when they witness them playing with their prey, even though this is actually a hunting activity motivated by a need to survive.
While the latter may be somewhat accurate, researchers have discovered a Japanese cat by the name of Ebisu that is an exact replica! “People think of cats as isolated and antisocial, but our study underscores the idea that they’re studying us and learning from us,” says Kristyn Vitale of Unity College. According to Vitale, it’s reasonable to think that some cats may be able to imitate human behavior in some small or major way. If I hadn’t opened it in the first place, my cats wouldn’t have known that one of them could open a sliding door.
Reason 7: They’re Claiming Their Personal Space
Not all paws on our faces are an expression of affection; in certain circumstances, your cat may be trying to put some distance between you and them. Cats are renowned for their independence and the fact that they primarily want us to respond to their wants and expectations, albeit these are subject to change because cats may be a little unpredictable.
One second you’re swooping in to give your cat a kiss on their adorable tiny nose, and the next thing you know, a paw greets you in place of the customary gentle purr or lovely little meow of appreciation. I’m sure you’ve seen movies or experienced this yourself, where cats try to kiss their owners but their paws block their face from getting close.
As a result, it’s critical that you respect your cat’s boundaries and pay attention to what your cat, or in this case, your cat’s paws, are trying to tell you.
Reason 8: They Were Stretching
A paw in your face can just be a coincidence, but understanding your cat’s body language will undoubtedly improve your relationship and teach you when to show them some affection. Even though you might be searching for an explanation, it’s possible that your kitty friend was merely stretching when their paw accidentally touched your face. While some cats may immediately remove the paw after it touches your face, others may find the position to be cozy enough to allow the paw to remain in place.
Why Does My Cat Put His Paw on My Face When I’m Sleeping?
Cats will only sleep close to you if they feel secure around you, especially during times when they are most vulnerable. I believe there is no finer lullaby than a cat’s purr and the soothing warmth of their hair as they snuggle down to sleep next to you. Cats will also select specific positions and regions of the bed to sleep in. One of my cats likes to cuddle up on my pillow, while the other likes to migrate from under the blankets to my feet. My face-sleeping cat will occasionally lay his paw on my hair, which frequently ends up on my face.
It could be a part of their routine to knead you as they get ready for bed. Touching or rubbing against you when you’re asleep is typically a sign of trust and love. Although I typically perceive this as a good night, if it happens in the middle of the night, I am aware that my cat is likely trying to wake me up and demand my attention. Each cat has a different motivation for pawing your face in an attempt to wake you awake. They might be famished, they might want to play, or they might just want you to move aside.
Should I stop my cat from touching my face?
Although placing their soft paw on your cheek may seem adorable, it might have some unintended repercussions. First of all, it’s crucial to keep in mind that accidents can occur. Our cats are using their paws as weapons to attack or defend themselves when they place them on our faces. They usually keep their claws covered, but if something startles them or sets off their fight-or-flight response at that precise moment, you could get scratched. The tips of your cat’s claws might retract and snag on your skin even while they are stretched out towards your face.
Keep in mind that if or when this occurs, there is no need to yell or point the finger at our cats because it is not something they can control, especially if they become frightened or frustrated. After all, it is our responsibility to ensure that our feline friends feel comfortable and at ease around us. Putting your cat’s paw on your face is not the most hygienic thing, barring terrible circumstances. Our cats can roam freely throughout the house, utilize a litter box, and some may even be allowed outside.
Cats are tidy creatures, but that doesn’t imply their grooming standards are sufficient. While feline illnesses usually afflict cats, some of them—known as zoonotic illnesses—can also spread to people. Some of these illnesses, such as salmonella poisoning, which can affect cats if they capture and consume birds, may be familiar to you.
A “round, red, itchy lesion with a ring of scale around the edge” is how ringworm and other skin infections frequently present themselves. Toxoplasmosis is the most well-known of these illnesses, and according to Cornell University, while most infected individuals do not manifest any overt symptoms, “people with weakened immune systems and infants whose mothers are infected during pregnancy can develop severe illness from this parasite.”
In order to avoid spreading germs, it’s crucial to wash your hands after petting your cat and to keep them away from your pillow, especially if they are outdoor cats. Similarly, it’s important to prevent your cat from placing their paw on your face in case they unintentionally scratch you or trigger a minor skin irritant. I mean, there are a ton of other ways to express your affection for your cat and have them return the favor, so I’m sure we can leave paws out!
How Do I Stop My Cat From Touching My Face?
Understanding the causes of undesirable feline behavior is the first action you should take. There are many reasons why your cat might be touching your face, as I’ve said above. If your cat repeatedly taps you while you’re sleeping or places his paw on your face, it’s possible that he wants food or that he is bored and wants to play. My cat has occasionally tapped me quickly on the face to wake me up because they found a stuffed mouse in my hair or they wanted me to shift so they could take over the space where they should have been resting.
An automatic food feeder was what I used to stop the paw-patting and persistent meowing. I can’t stress enough how highly I think this simple fix is, and it’s a terrific method to stop your cat from meowing in frustration and hunger all day. You can go here to view my top pick, the Cat Mate C500 on Amazon, or you can check out our review of 5 alternative feeds. Your hungry cat won’t need to tap you in the face, I guarantee it!
Cats are nocturnal hunters, so it’s also conceivable that your feline companion is disturbing your sleep out of boredom. Playing with your cat before bed will help to tire them out, which is the best method to guarantee that your feline friend will sleep through the night. Additionally, keeping the bedroom off-limits will lessen your cat’s paw interventions so you can get a good night’s sleep.
If your cat keeps putting its paw on your face to start playtime, it’s time to take a break. The same demand for hunting games might occur during the day. Find the toys that make your cat happy, then simulate a hunt with them. By doing this, you’ll support your cat’s continued physical and mental wellness. If, however, they prefer to cuddle, you may either give in or use positive reinforcement to change the way they ask for petting.
Feline Practitioners claim that “It’s critical that unwanted conduct is not unintentionally rewarded. The greatest method to stop unpleasant conduct is to ignore it or divert it.” Remove their paw off your face and wait a few seconds before patting them rather than immediately doing so or, worse, yelling at them. Help them stop associating being petted with pawing you in the face. Your cat will gradually come to understand that this is not the best way to attract attention from you, including cuddles.
Cats can be trained, but it could take longer to break ingrained behaviours that have been cultivated through time as a result of your acceptance. If you’re having trouble altering this behavior, make sure your face is out of reach of your cat’s paw as much as you can. Last but not least, remember to have patience with your pet because they just think they are doing it to show you love.