Why Do Cats Reach Out To Touch You?

It’s not uncommon for cats to reach out and touch their owners as they walk by. Some cats tap their owners gently, while others keep their claws exposed and catch their clothes or skin. This behavior has several meanings, so it’s useful for owners to understand them to gauge their cat’s mood.

Cats paw their owners to get their attention, either because they’re bored and looking for attention or want to feed. They may also want to play and will reach out to initiate a fun game. Territorial cats will transfer their scent onto their owners to gain ownership of them through the sweat glands located in their paws. 

However, monitor your cat for signs of aggression, as this indicates it’s not happy. In this instance, it’s reaching out with its paw to warn you. If you allow this to continue, your cat may develop behavioral problems.

Why Does My Cat Tap Me?

It’s normal for cats to tap their owners. A tap is typically gentle, which indicates your cat has no intention of harming you. Instead, your cat’s tapping you to check to see if you’re nearby. This is reserved for owners who have built a strong bond with their cats.

Many cats tap their owners while they’re drifting off to sleep or once they’ve just woken up to gauge their surroundings and see whether their owners are still there. Pawing is also a type of attention-seeking behavior. When your cat taps you, it wants your attention. Many cats that tap their owners are either:

  • Bored
  • Anxious
  • Hungry

Monitor your cat’s mannerisms to ascertain whether it needs something, such as food or affection.

Why Does My Cat Reach Its Paw Out to My Face?

Cuddly cats touch their owners’ faces as a sign of love and affection. You’ll know for sure if your cat purrs loudly at the same time. Your cat may also want to wake you up. That’s because it wants feeding or for you to play with it. If your cat knows a gentle nudge is all it takes to wake you, it’ll reach its paw to your face to get you up.

If your cat trusts you, it’ll reach its paw out to your face to snuggle up to you. This is the ultimate sign of loyalty, as cats are at their most vulnerable when they sleep. Your pet knows that touching your face won’t put it in danger, so it feels completely comfortable and safe around you.

However, bear in mind that sometimes there is no reason behind this behavior. Depending on where your cat is positioned, there’s every chance for it to touch your face accidentally after stretching. Of course, there’s also the chance that your face makes a comfortable place for your cat’s paws to rest.

Why Do Cats Like To Hold Your Hand?

It’s undoubtedly cute when a cat goes to hold its owner’s hand, but the reasons behind why cats do this aren’t clear. What we do know is that cats hold their owners’ hands for similar reasons as hitting them, such as:

  • Looking for attention
  • Feel impatient about something
  • Content and happy
  • Want to play
  • Your hand makes a comfortable resting spot
  • Caught your hand accidentally while stretching

This will depend completely on your cat’s mood, personality, and temperament. This behavior is a communication tool. Many owners believe it’s a sign of love and affection, but this is a romantic view and isn’t always the case. While cats can express emotions, they feel them on a simpler level and don’t understand the intricacies of human feelings.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Hits You With Its Paw?

If your cat seems happy and relaxed, you can interpret pawing as a good thing. Here are the most common reasons why your cat will tap you with its paw:

Scent Marking

The most logical explanation for your cat pawing you is that it’s transferring its scent onto you. This is how cats claim things as theirs while warning other animals away from their territory long after they’re gone.

Cats have scent glands in their paws. VCA Hospitals describes how they deposit their odor with these scent glands, marking their territory and signaling “ownership” by touching you with their paws each time you walk past them. You won’t smell these odors, but other cats can and are more likely to stay away from you as a result.


Cats will touch you with their paws if they feel they aren’t getting enough attention from you. Some cats love human attention and want to be around their owners as much as they can. If your pet feels ignored, it’ll paw you in the hopes of receiving a stroke or cuddle. If your cat’s desperate for your attention, it may start to:

  • Vocalize and cry more often than usual
  • Display destructive tendencies
  • Excessively groom itself
  • Rub its body or butt its head against you
  • Expose its belly

These are overall positive signs. However, be sure to give your cat the attention it craves to prevent it from becoming depressed or upset.

why do cats like to hold your hand?


Cats enjoy a regular feeding schedule. This provides the security and predictability of a routine, becoming the cornerstone event of the day. Cats carry out their activities around their mealtimes, and sticking to a routine helps them cope with changes to their environment.

Cats can’t talk, so they must use their actions to communicate with their owners. If you miss a mealtime, your cat will paw you as you walk past to remind you. This is likely to be accompanied by meowing. Your cat may also follow you around until you feed it.


Your cat could be touching you with its paw because it’s initiating playtime with you. This is a signal for you to grab your cat’s favorite toys and games and entertain them for a little while. Most cats are happy to entertain themselves for a short period, but there’s nothing better than playing with their favorite humans.

Playtime is essential for cats because it provides the mental stimulation they need. Playing with toys also helps improve their hunting and stalking skills, especially if you use toys that resemble mice or birds. While you may not want to encourage your pet to hunt, it still needs these vital skills.

Playful, active cat breeds are more likely to hit you to initiate playtime, such as:

  • Siamese
  • Burmese
  • Tonkinese
  • Bengal
  • American Shorthair
  • Maine Coon
  • Abyssinian
  • Ragdoll

However, this isn’t an exclusive list – whether your cat hits you as you walk by or not depends on its personality and mood on any given day.


If you’ve petted your cat too much or for too long, it may feel overstimulated. In this case, your pet will hit or touch you with its paw to stop. Cats enjoy being touched at first, but they become irritated after a prolonged period of physical contact.

In many instances, this is because the physical contact turns from being pleasant to uncomfortable. This is commonly caused by touching your pet in the same spot. Your cat may become aggressive at the same time as hitting you, which is a warning to stop.

what does it mean when a cat hits you with its paw?

Why Do Cats Swat at You When You Walk By?

A cat that swats is unhappy. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, fear is one of the most common causes of feline aggression. If your cat’s afraid of you or you’ve done something to upset it, it’ll swat you as a warning. Two other reasons cause cats to swat, which are:

Status Aggression

According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, cats show signs of aggression towards people when they want to establish social dominance. This includes swatting, amongst other unwanted behaviors.

Responding to your cat when it swats you for dominance will only make it think it has control. A relaxed cat also shouldn’t strike you. If it does, it’s still harboring aggressive tendencies. To prevent this, ignore your cat entirely and only offer treats and rewards once it returns to a relaxed state.

Play Aggression  

Playful aggression is when cats become too serious during playtime. They bite, scratch, and swat their owners. They get carried away and overstimulated by toys and games, lashing out. Unfortunately, this causes painful injuries in the most severe cases. Look out for other tell-tale signs of aggression, such as:

  • Intense movement from the tail
  • Ears that are held back
  • Large pupils

If you notice these things, it’s time to end the play session. This type of aggression is more commonly seen in kittens and young cats with lots of energy to burn.

Don’t tolerate play-related aggression, as it will teach your cat to become more poorly behaved. Instead, ignore your cat or walk out of the room to show your pet that it’ll receive no interaction from this type of behavior. Always avoid physical punishment, however, as this will cause fear and owner avoidance.

In most cases, cats reach out to their owners for positive reasons, particularly if they give a gentle tap. However, if they swat or hit aggressively, they’re likely annoyed about something.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

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