Why does my cat paw my face? – 12 reasons why your cat does so!

You must have surely wondered sometimes that why does my cat paw my face, especially when it does so in different situations. These paws may come on your face out of nowhere to leave you startles and confused. However, with slight help, you will able to understand the reason behind this gesture and be able to react better after you finish reading this.


About cat pawing

A cat pawing on your face is one of the many physical gestures cats make to communicate. This move is made by the cats to convey many messages which you will be able to understand with time. Interestingly, there can be different ways your cat will paw at your face like-

  • Blowing involves nervous pawing for reassurance in stressed times
  • Nagging involves denser pawing for immediate attention
  • Stroking involves touching the face lightly with either or both the paws for affection

Pawing is also different from kneading where the former means the cat simply resting its paws on the face while the latter involves the cat pushing the paws in and out alternatively.

Reasons why cat’s paw on the face

Here are some possible theories behind this gesture of the cats.

why does my cat paw my face

Demanding attention

Cats are highly attention-loving animals and they use different physical gestures to grab the sight of their owner, pawing being one of them. They will paw on your face to want you to attend to them immediately and give them whatever they want. The best deal is that you listen to them in such situations or things may go sideways.

Displaying affection

In a general quest to respond with affection for all the love and care that you show to them, cats will paw at your face. This is another very common reason behind this behavioral tendency of the cats where they try different physical gestures to bond with their owners and tell them that their presence makes them feel comfortable and loved.

Scent marking

Cats have scent glands on their paws too and upon pawing your face, they smear the released pheromones on the touched spot. This is the way cats mark you as their possession or go-to place because they get the nice vibes from you. It can also be seen as another display of affection where your cat tries to claim you and wants to tell you that they feel family with you.

Waking up

Cats get very active in the daytime and want companionship mostly for different activities for which they can even wake you up. So if you wonder why does my cat put his paw on my face when you are sleeping, it’s an attempt by them to wake you up and attend to their needs.

Desiring solitude

Cats are super playful at one time but desire solitude at other times too where they groom themselves or just sleep. You can understand the face pawing as a kind gesture by them to stop you from invading their personal space and me-time. It’s their way of telling that they need some rest time and you shouldn’t disturb them meanwhile for letting them get ready for another session of playing.

Seeking support

Anything comfortable is loved by the cats and the same formula applies when they look for a body posture that is comfy for them. By that means, your face might tend to prove the best rest-bed in any situation and your cat will just place its paws on it to get the best rest. This is also a way of them trusting you for their comfort partner.

Demanding petting

Getting petted, groomed, and stroked is adorned by the cats as some of their body parts are very sensitive to human touch. So if you sometimes think that why does my cat touch my face out of nowhere, this might be their sign of wanting some petting and grooming in case they want some feel-good vibes and attention from you.

Signaling playtime

This is another very common reason why your pet cat might climb over you to paw your face. Cats get bored very easily and will turn to you for wanting a play partner in case they can’t get hold of anything for stimulation like interactive toys. This is also a great way for you to play-train them as they will enjoy and willingly be a part of it.

Trust test

Pawing on the face is also used by the cats to establish a two-way trust between them and the owner. Gestures like pawing are deeper and when the cat finally starts doing it, that means that it wants you to trust them as well as wants to trust you if you would allow them to be close to you in their way. It’s like establishing a safe and trustable space between the cat and its owner.

Needing snuggling

Cats are sleepy creatures and most of them love to snuggle or cuddle up with their humans to feel safe and comfortable. Pawing on the face during sleeping is very commonly done by the cats to tell the owner that they want to sleep around you and that they trust you enough to safeguard them while they sleep.

Alarm for different demands

All the times when you think that why does my cat paw my face at odd times, well; they might just want food or a walk outside. They choose to paw to make you attend to their wishes since it is a gentler and affectionate way to convince the owner as they cannot resist it. In a way, your cat is tricking you lovingly!

Maintaining physical distance

Your cat may allow you to hold them but may just not be in the mood of closer cuddles or petting. In such times, the cat put their paws on the owner’s face to stop them from showing deeper affection signs like kissing, booping, rubbing, etc. Cats are very specific about their space and can tell you to respect it.

Cautions against the face pawing by cats

It is also important for you to stay cautious against the damage your cat can cause in case of overzealously pawing. They might end up scratching or puncturing wounds on your face with their sharp claws. Several infectious bacteria, fungi, mites, viruses, ticks, etc have been found to exist on the cat claws and may cause zoonotic medical issues on your face like the Cat-scratch disease.

Here are some tips you can follow to promote safer pawing:

  • Trim the nails of your cat regularly with good nail-trimmers.
  • Keep their paws clean by wiping them off with damp cloth whenever they come from outside. You can even get a grooming kit for the holistic cleaning of the cats.
  • Don’t let them walk much on hot surfaces.
  • Keep checking the paws for any infections, injuries, scratches, swellings, etc.
  • Ensure that toys, food, and other necessary items are available to cats always.
  • Gently discourage pawing when they do it aggressively or if you don’t like it.


Now that you have understood all the possible reasons for your thought why does my cat paw my face, you can take better action next time it does so by observing and analyzing the underlying message. It doesn’t take much to understand your pet if you give them the required love and companionship. Happy petting!

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.