Why Does My Cat Touch My Face? (9 Reasons You Need to Know)

All cat parents secretly wish that their cat communicates with them. While knowing the causes behind why exactly your cat does what it does maybe a thing of the future to find, if you could find at least some basic ideas of your cat’s actions and reasons, it would be rewarding. One such action your feline friend does that can be translated to important meanings is when your cat touches your face with their paws either when you sleep or in the middle of any activity that you are doing.

So cat parents may ask, “why does my cat touch my face?” Cats touch your face to communicate with you. It could either be a sign of love from the cat or a sign to fill up the empty food bowl. Since cats communicate with their hoomans using paws, it is likely your cat is trying to tell you something by getting your attention through touch.

In this article, you can explore 9 reasons why your cat could be touching your face with his paws and what they mean.

Why does my cat touch my face?

Your cat can touch your face to seek attention, to show affection, to copy your petting actions, to build and reciprocate trust, to wake you up and to ask something from you, to play with you, or to mark you.

The reasons have been explained in detail below:

Seeking Attention

Cats do need a lot of attention even during playtime, and the moment you are distracted, you may get the paw-in-the-face action to remind you that you are prioritizing something else over your cat. 

So when your cat wants the attention and you’re not giving it, your cat would put the paw in your face to demand it back. It could be a gentle one or a swat. 

Showing Affection

Just as touch can be sometimes a form of human affection, cats feel the same way and could be touching you to show you some cat love. If you are on the couch with your kitten and are cuddling it and your cat decides to touch your face in the middle of it, it could mean your cat is reciprocating the love to you. This is more the reason when accompanied by satisfying cat purrs.

Also, if your cat is sitting near you and is slowly blinking their eyes while looking at you and decides to show your face in the meanwhile, this could also mean that they are showing you affection by gently patting your face.

Copying Behavior

If you have been subconsciously doing it, you may sit back and think how many times during the day you set out and touch your cat’s face when you are in the middle of work to show it some love. 

Your cat may have noticed this behavior of showing love and may simply copy you by touching your face when you are in the middle of work to show you that it loves you. While there are no scientific explanations if cats can mimic your behavior, many cat parents like to believe this to be true.

Building and Reciprocating Trust

Your cat can test you by touching your face as it is trying to show you that despite having claws, it will not hurt you. This pawing could also work the other way round and your cat could test you to see if it can trust you by putting his paw to your face to see whether you bite him or not.

Waking You

If you feel your cat’s paw on your face when you are sleeping, it could mean either of two things: he wants you to wake up to feed him or to let him out if you have closed its access to the litter box. 

If you are not sleeping and the touch was not that of affection or love (which you can easily understand by showing your cat the same love and seeing if it hisses or reacts badly to it,) then it must be that of a reminder that it is feeding time.

Asking for Playtime

Cats could ask you to come and play with them if you have not been doing so for long by touching your face. Since this may have the closest their paws could reach to touch you and remind you that your cat needs some fun time, the touch can mean a way to call you for play or to cuddle.

Marking You

The paw pads on your cat have scent glands in them. So when your cat touches your face in the middle of cuddle sessions, and they rub their faces or teeth against you too, this could mean that they are marking you to let other guest cats know that this human is already owned or territorialized by another cat.

Getting Away

While this is not a heartwarming reason like the ones above, your cat could touch your face to tell you to stop kissing and cuddling with it all the time by forming a personal bubble between yourself and itself. If it is tied with a watchful stare, your cat may be sick of your petting and needs some space.

How do you tell if a cat loves you?

When your cat loves you, he will treat you like a family or another cat. They may rub against you and sleep near you, which are surefire signs of trust and love. 

The following could also be signs your cat loves you:

  • Following you around rooms to be near you as it feels safe and wants to be with you.
  • Coming to your room or jumping on your bed when you are sleeping to curl up next to you.
  • Blinking their eyes slowly when looking at you by softening the gaze.

Why does my cat tap me when I walk past?

Your cat could tap you when you walk past if it wants to redirect the aggression, play, get attention, or be surprised.

Redirecting Aggression

When something different triggers your cat and at that moment you were the unfortunate being walking past the cat, the aggression directed towards the former could be redirected to you, simply because you distracted the cat. 

Your cat can vent out its anger in the form of a tap. However, if that thing has been bugging your cat a lot, and you walked past the cat, you may get more than just a tap. The reaction from your cat could be as violent as drawing blood through rough scratches. 

In that case, you need to limit your cat’s presence near the trigger or remove it from the environment altogether.

Play or Seek Attention

Gentler reasons for a tap could be asking you to come to play with it and the tap could be a way to draw your attention towards the cat. Ctas that are particularly playful initiate the play by tapping and calling the owner or maybe some other cats by the tap.

Your cat may also want to draw your attention to get food if you walk past the empty food bowl by tapping you.


Ctas that you have recently rescued or gotten and those who are taking their time to decompress, or those cats who are particularly prey-driven may often do this if your walking past them all of a sudden scares them. Since they are caught by surprise they perform this reflex of a quick tap to decipher the situation.

Why does my cat have to touch me when sleeping?

If your cat touches you when you are sleeping, it could mean that the cat wants some food or it wants to be let out for potty.

It could also mean that your cat is trying to hug you or wants to hold you for reassurance. Or your cat may hold you and continue the paw hold on your face if it feels that you will leave it during the night and you won’t move if the paw is there or at least they would be able to feel if you moved and tag along with you.

Why do cats stretch when they see you?

Ctas can be stretching when they see you as a form of welcoming, if they have just gotten up from sleep or to show new guests who is the boss here.

Welcoming you

Seeing you after a long time and then stretching could be a sign that your cat is welcoming you home. The cat may stretch to show that it has waited for long and he would like you to know that it had been boring without you, so this stretch is to freshen himself up now that you are here.

Marking territory

When guests come to the house and your cat feels a little insecure, it can stretch in front of them or other pets they may have brought along to show them this house is his territory. While stretching, they leave the scent glands on the floor as well, marking the area for other cats or guests, the latter although can’t smell it.

Do cats sleep with you to protect you?

Although your cat may not sleep with you to protect you all the time, it can be protective of you depending on the situation. 

For example, if you get sick and your cat has not been leaving your side throughout the day and night and sleeps near you all the time, not letting others come close to you except yourself, it may be a chance that your cat is being protective of you.

Do cats recognize their owner’s face?

Yes. All cats recognize their owners. But it does not happen as we humans remember people by their faces, it happens in another way.

Ctas recognize the voice, intonation, temperature, and smell of their owners. They understand the behavioral patterns of their owners differently from those of other people and, in this way, can separate between the owners and other people.

Do cats get emotionally attached to their owners?

Yes. Just like children and dogs, cats can get emotionally attached to their owners and caregivers.

When cats form secure attachments, they feel calm and safe around the owners to explore the environment and themselves feel comfortable around them to be themselves. When they get separated from you, they may get anxious, but they also get less anxious when you return.

On the other hand, insecure attachment is when upon reunion, your cat does not cuddle with you or totally avoids contact with you and appears conflicted about what to do.

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