Why Do Cats Paw at You?

Why Do Cats Paw at You?

Have you ever had your cat paw at you? There are a variety of reasons why cats may paw, scratch, or knead at you. Cat pawing is a normal behavior, but if the pawing grows to become aggressive, excessive, or annoying, steps need to be taken before it becomes a bigger problem.

Cats tend to use pawing as a form of communication. Cats paw at us out of instinct, by accident, to give or get affection, and to get our attention. Most times, when cats paw at us, it means nothing serious. Sometimes, however, they are getting our attention to tell us that they are sick or in pain.

Want to know exactly why your cat is pawing at you? Read our article to find out more about cat pawing!

why do cats paw at you cooper city fl

To Get Your Attention

Often times, when your cat is pawing at you, it is simply to get your attention about something.

Sometimes they paw at you to get your attention in terms of some cuddles, pets, and scratches. If your cat’s pawing is followed by a further action such as head nudging or rolling over on their back, they likely want some loving attention from you.

Other times, your cat may paw at you and then run towards their food or water dish, telling you that they are hungry or thirsty. Although it is important to feed your cats at once or twice a day, you need to make sure they are being fed on your schedule. If your cat gets food, water, or a treat every time they paw at you, the pawing will become a habit down the road.

Instincts & Affection

A lot of times, cats will paw and knead due to their natural instincts.

Kittens will knead on their mother’s stomachs when breastfeeding, to make sure they are getting a good supply of milk.

Other times, cats may knead the carpet or blanket before they lay down. Some speculate that in the wild, cats would knead the grass to make a comfortable place to lay down and relax.

When a cat kneads at you or on you, they are likely doing it out of instinct. However, this means that your cat associates you with the love of its mother or the comfort of a cozy place to relax.

By kneading on you, your cat is telling you that they love and trust you. It is a way that they show affection, even if it is out of natural instinct. Next time your cat crawls in your lap and kneads on you, just know that your furry friend loves you!


In some cases, your cat may just paw at you on accident.

Cats love to stretch, and they tend to extend their paws all the way out while doing so. If your cat is stretching near you and paws at you, it was likely just an accident.

Furthermore, if they fail to make eye contact with you or display another action after the pawing, it is a tell-tale sign that they didn’t mean to paw at you.


Another reason to be softly pawed at by your cat is playing. Cats are animals, and they love to play fight with other animals and even their humans.

Cats don’t always rely on toys to play; swatting at you can be just as fun. However, it is never a smart idea to use your hands as a toy because it can teach the cat that it is okay to bite and scratch.

They Are Sick or In Pain

Unfortunately, pawing isn’t always a cute thing cats do. Cats will often stretch out when they are sore, and this can result in accidental pawing. Sometimes, however, it can be more serious than that.

Our feline friends are skilled at hiding when they are sick. Some illnesses, such as the feline calicivirus, can have them stretching out their paws a lot due to soreness.

This virus causes respiratory infection and oral disease, and usually produces something referred to as “Limping Syndrome”. It can start with small bouts of limping, and over time the cat will not want to move at all.

The reason for this is because the virus can isolate into the joints and cause inflammation, making movement difficult or painful. Usually, cats can recover from this without medical treatment. However, depending on how severe, they may need to see a vet because this virus can be deadly.


All in all, our cats paw at us as a way to communicate. Whether it be for scratches and belly rubs, food, or even to show us affection, our cats use pawing as a way to talk to us.

Although what your cat is trying to communicate is usually harmless most of the time, be sure to keep an eye on your cat to make sure they are not sick or in pain when they are pawing at you.

Remember that cat pawing is completely normal, but if your cat’s pawing starts to become aggressive, excessive, distracting, and annoying, you need to make sure steps are taken to alleviate the cat’s pawing behavior.

Do you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s pawing behavior? Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital in Cooper City, FL can be reached at (954) 432-5811 to help you and your cat!

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About Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital

Located in Cooper City, FL, we strive to do more than simply be a full-service veterinarian for your pet. Our decades of experience has served generations of families and their beloved pets and we look forward to serving you as well!