Why Does My Cat Paw My Face – 7 Common Reasons

Imagine this; you’re in bed, the sun is shining through the curtains and your feline companion is snuggled up beside you. Rather than just lying there calmly, your cat is swiping at your face. It could be because they are hungry, but there are also many other explanations for why your furry friend might be doing this. Have you ever asked yourself; Why Does My Cat Paw My Face? 

There are various reasons why your cat may be pawing at your face, including displaying affection, asserting ownership, or marking their territory, but in most cases, it is a cute and endearing gesture.

When a cat touches your face with their paw, it’s usually a positive gesture that doesn’t involve scratching. This is a great sign for cat owners as it confirms the strong bond they share with their pet. In this article, we will explore seven common reasons why cats may paw at their owner’s face.

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

Your cat may be placing their paw on your face or kneading you for a variety of reasons. Here are 7 common reasons why cats paw at your face:

Cats have scent glands in their paws, and when they place their paw on your face or knead your face, it is their way of transferring some of their scents onto you. This behavior is similar to when a cat scratches something – other cats will know that you belong to them.

There are several explanations as to why your cat may be placing their paw on your face. Here are 7 common reasons:

When your cat paws at your face, it could be a way of marking their territory, but it’s also a sign of affection. It’s fortunate that they don’t use their claws on your face like they do on your couch. Your cat is trying to show everyone that you belong to them, which means that when they paw at your face, they’re saying, “I own you human.”

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2. Your cat wants you to wake up.

Although it may appear affectionate when our feline companions paw at our faces, it is not always a gentle gesture. It might be their way of indicating that they require food, even if it is not mealtime yet, or that they are bored and want us to wake up and interact with them.

Instead of my cat meowing loudly in my ear, putting his rear end in my face, or covering my nose with his large Persian tail, I would prefer if he used the gentle technique of pawing my face to wake me up. Being awakened by soft paw taps on the face is a fortunate experience as there are several other unpleasant ways cats can get our attention.

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

When your cat places its paws on your face while sleeping, it indicates a significant gesture. During sleep, cats are most defenseless, and if they snuggle up to you and touch your face with their feet, it shows a considerable level of trust.

If your cat extends their paws towards your face while sleeping, it indicates that they feel secure and at ease with you. It is a significant gesture that shows your cat trusts you not to harm them during their slumber, which is a great compliment.

4. Your cat is forming a personal space bubble.

So, your kitty has settled down beside you, and they look so adorable that you can’t help but give them smooches or nose boops. After a few kisses, your Cat puts their paws on your Face and just leaves them there while keeping a close eye on you. As much as your feline enjoys and values your kisses, they may be getting tired of them.

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Cats may put their paws on your face to create distance between you and them. They won’t scratch or hit you because they understand that it’s a sign of affection, but they can become disinterested in your attention after a while, like any picky feline.

Cats pawing at their owner’s face is a way for them to establish some distance and personal space. Don’t feel offended by it, as they may change their mind about your affection soon enough. They simply require some time to themselves.

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

Although we may wish to assign a cute or typical feline explanation for our cat’s actions, it may not always be accurate.

One of the reasons why your cat may be pawing your face is that it simply stretched out, landed on your face, and decided to stay there without any hidden agenda. This behavior is similar to how humans sometimes stretch out and remain in a comfortable position due to laziness or pleasure.

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

Cats appreciate the affection we show them through head rubs, chin scratches, and ear rubs, among other ways. Therefore, it’s not unexpected that they would want to reciprocate the gesture by touching our face. Essentially, when they paw at our face, they are returning the favor by “petting” us.

It’s heartwarming to consider that cats recognize and appreciate the love we give them, and they express their gratitude in the best way they know how – by pawing at our faces.

7. Your cat is testing you.

It may surprise some individuals, but cats do not inherently trust their human companions and require trust to be earned. From my own observations, I have noticed that it is simpler to gain the trust of kittens compared to adult cats. If I have raised a cat from an early age, they tend to warm up to me and acknowledge me rather quickly. It’s similar to raising a child; you become such a significant part of their life that they cannot imagine anyone else being there.

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Mature cats are a completely different creature. They have established behaviors and developed personalities. And if you got them from a rescue or shelter, you may not be aware of their entire history.

It is possible that the cat may have had a bad experience in its previous home and may not be comfortable around humans. Therefore, it is our responsibility to gain their trust. When a cat places its paws on your face, it could be a way of testing you. If you allow them to keep their paws there without any negative reaction, they may start to trust you. Passing this test is crucial!


Cats are often thought of as unemotional creatures, but they do express their feelings in unique ways. One way they show affection is by pawing at your face. However, this behavior can also indicate other things such as boredom or hunger, or it may have no specific reason at all. Despite the ambiguity of their intentions, cherish these moments with your feline companion as they provide excellent opportunities to strengthen your bond.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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