Why Does My Cat Put Her Paws on My Face?

Feeling the pitter patter of little paws on your face? Cats love to reach out and touch you, whether it's in the morning to get you awake for breakfast or simply when she's snuggled at your side during a cozy nap. Touching your face or any other part of you for cats is similar to the role of touch for people, in that it shows off her affection for you or even is used as a prompt to play with you. So if your cat is stroking, batting, or even kneading on your face, there could be a variety of reasons behind her behavior.

A teenager girl holding her cat
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To show you affection

Contrary to popular belief, cats are very affectionate toward each other and toward their beloved humans. Much like we show affection to each other through touch with our hands, cats show their love for us by touching our face with their paws. If your cat's behavior is accompanied by slow blinking and purring, he is expressing his deep love for you. He may even groom your face, too, as a sign of adoration, according to Pam Johnson-Bennet of Cat Behavior Associates.

To get you up

If your feline is gently touching your face in the wee hours of the morning or very late at night while you're snoozing comfortably, it could be just to wake you up. The most likely reason for this is food. Cats are generally crepuscular, being most active at dawn and dusk, so your cat may simply want to be fed during the time that you might be asleep.

To deal with a bothersome "alarm clock cat" who tends to wake you up early with a few pats to the face, leave out dry cat food to sustain her through the night and allow her to snack as she wants. Or, set up an automatic feeder that opens up early in the morning to allow your cat a nice meal that you don't have to get up to give her. Remember, by getting up to feed her, you will reinforce this behavior, so if you don't want to have a furry alarm clock, don't feed her when she prompts you to with a pat on your cheek.

To mark you as his

Cats view the world primarily through their noses and mark everything around them with their scent. Your cat's body is filled with sebaceous scent glands, including glands on his forehead, lips, and bottoms of his feet, according to Pet Place. These glands secrete pheromones that put his scent on things when he paws at them or scratches them. So, when your cat reaches out and touches your face, he may be putting his mark on you to show the world that you belong to him. Thankfully, the pheromones don't have a scent to humans, only to other felines.

Because she's bored

Sometimes cats just get bored and want to play. And who better to play with than their favorite human? To get you involved in a rousing game of fetch, your cat may put her paws on your face to get your attention. Or, if you're sleeping and move in your sleep, she may be pouncing on you just as she would with another cat.

Cats need exercise and activity each day to stay healthy, both mentally and physically, recommends WebMD. Engage your cat in interactive wand toy games and laser pointer sessions at least twice a day for ten minutes at a time to satisfy your cat's need to hunt and play.

He's kneading

Is your cat putting his paws on your face and giving you a massage? Then he might be kneading on you. Kneading is a behavior that starts in kittenhood when little ones nurse from mom, according to PetMD. It's a comforting behavior for your cat, and if he's snuggled next to you in bed, he may just knead on your face. It's a sweet sign of love and comfort towards you if he does, but if it's a bit uncomfortable because of his claws, simply redirect it onto another surface like a pillow or blanket.