Why does my cat keep patting my face?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Cats may be the most mysterious creatures in the world. They have a hundred ways to express themselves, and each expression can mean a hundred different things.

So, you are not the only one to wonder ‘why does my cat keep patting face?’

Like everything else a cat does, touching your face can mean more than one things. It can be a show of affection, and it can be a call for attention. Their reason might differ every time they do it.

However, one thing that remains clear is that it is their way to express and communicate with a person they recognize and accept as their owner. so, congratulations on that achievement.

In this article, we will explore all the possible reasons your cat pats your face.

(also check out the excellent “20 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained” video at the end of this post)

What Does Science Say About It?

Cats have strong personalities, quite like humans – arguably even stronger.

This means you can’t really put them in boxes (figuratively speaking) and label their behavior. Each cat is different and may use a different gesture for a different purpose. The point being, except for a few highly common gestures, science has little say about what your cat does.

All we know is what we have learned from our own cats and other cat parents. So, let’s talk about all the reasons your cat will pat your face.

Reason 1: Your Cat Wants Your Attention

While cats usually pretend to be indifferent, they actually like your attention. If they like you, they will like to have you around with all your attention on them. If you notice your cat paws your face when you are too busy reading with a book, TV, or your mobile, that’s probably because they don’t like you paying more attention to something or someone else.

Probably, they know you are mostly likely to ignore their meows and purrs when so absorbed in something else. And hence, the paw!

Reason 2: Your Cat Wants To Show Affection

Cats may not go all out for affection like dogs do, but they do crave it time to time. Usually, when we first bring a cat home, we pat it too often. The frequency of patting and cuddling drops after a while – but your cat is used to that. Patting your face can be a gentle reminder. They touch you to be touched back with the same affection.

So, you better put that book down, throw your phone aside, turn the TV off and divert all your attention to your master. Cuddle till it tells you to stop.

Reason 3: Your Cat May be Hungry

A pat on the face may be a gentle reminder of meal time. It can also be a reminder to clean their litter. If it’s not their meal time, they can still feel hungry and ask for a snack. May be, they just want you to let them out for some time.

 In short, patting your face is a courteous way to communicate a problem so that you can solve it for them.

Reason 4: Your Cat is Testing You

This may seem unlikely but cat don’t trust too easily. Especially, if you have brought in a cat from a shelter or one that has been rescued from an uncaring house. They won’t let you cuddle too easily or will always be on their paws while you touch them. However, with proper care and timely meals, you can slowly earn their trust. However, they might test you first.

Patting your face is their way of making sure that you won’t bite or hurt them. In this case, they’d usually stay alert while patting and while quickly withdraw their paw at the slightest movement from you. So, my advice is to stay calm and let them get comfortable touching you.

Reason 5: Your Cat Is Marking You

Now this one that might actually have some scientific backing. It is a proven fact that cats have their scent glands in their paws. They use their scent to mark their territory i.e. in your case, their owner or the person they would sleep with.

That is how they manage to find you even when you’re sleeping in a pitch dark room. They won’t mistake your partner as you. They will come right towards you without a fail. That’s because they have been leaving their scent on your face all day long.

Reason 6: It Could Be the Other Way Around

You know what they say about cats. They think they are the master. Rightfully so!

So, it is entirely possible that your cat is not seeking attention or affection by patting your face but rather bestowing it upon you. It may very well be their way of telling you that they have accepted you, and possible even own you.

In simpler words, it can be their way of saying that you are their human and they love you.

When Do You Need To Worry?

If your cat used to pat your face but stopped doing it all of a sudden, that is when you need to worry. Go sit in the corner and reflect on what you did to upset your furry friend.

Jokes aside, your cat’s behavior can change any time and for no reason. May be they get bored of their own quirks sometimes.

These aren’t the things I would worry about.

What’s worrisome is when your cat pats your face too aggressively or when patting is followed by clawing, biting, or any other aggressive behavior. This usually means that your cat is agitated or upset. Sometimes, it can also be because you haven’t provided them a good scratch post or toy to play with. It is definitely something you should never overlook. They’ve got their needs and you gotta fulfill them.

What Can You Do About It?

If you want to do something about your cat’s face patting habit, all you need to do is keep their paws clean…and enjoy the soft clean paws on your face. Here is what you can do to keep their paws purrfectly clean for your face.

  • Trim their nails every 10 days. Here is how you can do it safely and easily. However, if you are scared of hurting their little paws, take them to a professional groomer.
  • While cats do clean their paws quite frequently, you can also use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt they may not be able to take out with their tongue.
  • In summer, keep your cat inside as walking on hot surface might hurt their paws.
  • Cat’s paws are not completely immune to infections and problems. Keep an eye for swelling, cuts, scratches, or any sign of injury. Take them to a vet as soon as you notice something unusual.
  • Get a complete pet grooming kit with a paw cleaner to keep your cat clean head to paws.

If you are worried because your cat goes out too often, you can an exercise wheel for your furball and give them a reason to stay inside.

20 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained!

FAQs

Do all cats show affection the same way?

No, for cats there are a hundred different ways of expression. Even one cat may use a different gesture to communicate one thing every time.

Are cat’s paws hygienic?

Cats have their own way to clean themselves by licking all the dirt out. They do it many times a day. However, if your cat is outgoing, it is best that you wipe their paws gently every day to remove stubborn dirt and debris stuck between toes.

Why are my cat’s paws so soft and swollen?

If you feel that your cat’s paw pads are too soft or swollen, that may be a case of pillow paw. It is an immune system disorder that can cause discomfort and might turn into ulceration. Take your cat to a vet as soon as you notice any difference in how their paws look or feel.

Conclusion

Now you know that those gentle pats are nothing to worry about. They are just cute little gestures to communicate affection and demand attention. As long as your cat is not aggressive and doesn’t hurt your face, you can enjoy those soft little precious paws on your face. You are the chosen one.

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