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Why Does My Cat Paw My Face – 7 Common Reasons

Why Does My Cat Paw My Face – 7 Common Reasons

Picture it; you’re lying in bed. The sun is peaking through the curtains and notice your cat is curled up beside you. Instead of just laying there peacefully, your cat is pawing at your face. Now it could be because he or she is hungry. But there are also many more reasons your fluffy friend could be doing this. So, have you ever wondered; why does my cat paw my face? 

The reasons that your cat is pawing at your face can vary. Cat paw things such as your face as a way to show affection, claim ownership, or to mark their territory. Mostly, its an adorable sign of affection from your cat.

When a cat paws your face, it’s for once, one that doesn’t involve them using their claws on your skin! This is actually a good thing when it happens, and something all cat lovers should look forward to confirming the true bond you have with your pet. Let’s take a look at the seven reasons your cat may paw at your face.

1. Your cat is using their paws to scent you.

Cats have scent glands in their paws. When your cat places their paw on your face or kneads your face, it is their way of transferring some of their scents onto you. When other cats come in contact with you, they will know that you belong to them. It can be seen as a very similar behavior to when a cat scratches at something.

That is another type of territory marking behavior. Accept this gesture for the sweet sign of affection that it is, and be grateful that your cat doesn’t use their claws on your face the same way they do your couch (speaking from personal experience on this one). Your cat wants everyone to know you belong to them. If you didn’t know this already, now you know this is your cat’s way of saying, “I own you human.”

2. Your cat wants you to wake up.

As sweet and endearing as it seems that our furry friends want to give us love taps, it isn’t always the tender sign we think it is. It could simply be our cat’s way of saying it’s time to get up and feed me. Or even if it isn’t meal time, your cat could be bored and want you to wake up and spend time with them.

I wish my cat would resort to this technique instead of howling in my ear or putting his bum in my face or draping his massive Persian tail over my nose. A tender paw to the face would be much nicer and far less jarring to wake up too. Anyone who gets awakened by gentle paw taps to the face is quite lucky! There are many other ways a cat can get your attention that is nowhere near as pleasant.

3. Your cat trusts you and is snuggling up against you.

If your cat likes to put its paws on your face when he/she is sleeping, this is a big deal. Cats are at their most vulnerable when they are asleep. If they snuggle up to you when they are sleeping and touch your face with their feet, this is a huge sign of trust.

The same thing applies if your cat is sleeping and stretches their paws out to reach your face. This is a big deal, and it means your cat feels completely comfortable and safe with you. Your cat knows you won’t do anything to endanger them while they sleep. This is very high praise.

4. Your cat is forming a personal space bubble.

So, your cat has laid down beside you, and he/she just looks so cute you can’t help give them kisses or nose boops. After a couple of kisses, your cat puts their paws onto your face and just leaves them there while keeping a watchful eye on you. As much as your feline likes and appreciates your kisses, they just may be sick of them.

Placing their paws on your face is a way they can keep you away from them. Your cat doesn’t hit or scratch you because they know what you are doing is a gesture of love. But like any finicky cat, they get their fill of your love, and then they are over it.

The paws to the face are a way for them to create personal space between them and their owner. Try not to take it personally and know that with a cat, they will change their mind on your kisses in short order. They just needed some breathing room for a while.

5. Your face looked like a comfortable place to rest their feet.

While we want to attribute a sweet motive to our cat’s behavior, or just a very cat-like reason for their behavior, that may not always be the case.

It could honestly be that your cat stretched, landed on your face, and stayed there. Think about how many times you have stretched out and just stayed in that position because it either felt good or you were too lazy to move. Cats can be the same way. For once, our feline friends may be doing something with no ulterior motive.

6. Your cat could be returning the favor of you petting them.

Cats enjoy head rubs, chin scratches, ear rubs, and many of the other ways that we show them love and affection. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would want to return the favor. So, in essence, when they touch your face, they are “petting” you back.

This is endearing when you think about it. It’s nice to know that they love and recognize the affection we show them. And they appreciate it so much; they want to return the favor the only way they know.

7. Your cat is testing you.

This may come as a shock to some people, but cats do not trust their humans automatically. We have to earn their trust. In my personal experience, I have found this is easier with kittens than adult cats. When I have a cat that I have had since early in their life, they take to me and accept me pretty quickly. It’s almost like having a child. You’ve been such a big part of their life for so long; they don’t know anything else but you.

Older cats are a different entity altogether. They have set habits and formed personalities. And if you adopted them from a shelter or rescue, you may not know their full background.

The cat could have come from an awful home environment and may not be so trusting of humans. It is our job to work to earn their trust. Placing their paws on your face without using claws first may be a way to test you. If your cat can leave their paws there and you don’t attempt to do anything to him or her, they can begin to accept you. Make sure you pass the test!


Cats get a bad reputation for being aloof and not showing emotion. The fact is they do show emotion; they just go about it quite differently. Touching your face with their paw is one way of showing affection. However, in true cat fashion, it can mean a whole host of other things. It can range from expressing boredom, being hungry, or it may have no reason at all. Regardless of their intentions, enjoy these moments with your cat. All of these can be great opportunities to bond with your furry family member!