Cats love warm places, including warm areas on the human body. So if you’re ever wondering why your cat wants to snuggle up in particular places on your body, the answer might be that they are looking for warmth.
Additionally, cats like to mark their territory with their pheromones, which means that them touching your face claims you as theirs, in a way. Cats and kittens also express affection by touching and rubbing faces.
Cats will also do things like sniff, knead, lick, bite, and jump on your face for various reasons.
When you are sitting or laying down, your face is the most accessible place for them to truly get your attention and express their needs.
Cats crave comfort and warm things. Since the human face is one of the most hospitable places on the body, cats are naturally attracted to it. Heat leaks out of your ears into the pillow, and cats like to conserve energy and heat.
Your cat also knows that if it tries to sleep in between your legs, it risks getting crushed. Therefore, snuggling up by your face is preferable because it is safer while still being warm. That way, they can smell you and know where you are and not be trapped by limbs.
Therefore, by sleeping on or near your face, your cat shows you how much she trusts you and wants to share the comfort. Young kittens often sleep best while in a pile of other kittens, so this behavior also stems from that.
However, if your cat is suffocating you while you sleep, you may wish to train your cat to sleep next to your face instead of on top of it.
Because cats express affection for another being or object by rubbing faces against them or it, you should know that when your cat rubs her face against yours, she is being affectionate.
Nuzzling you with their face is another way they place their scent on you. Cats have scent glands in their cheeks, which transfer their pheromones to you to claim you as their person.
Sometimes, your cat will also gently touch your face with his paw. This is him saying that you are his to protect. Just like the scent glands in their cheeks, cats also have scent glands in the pads of their paws.
It is also a way of them getting your attention. Perhaps your cat wants you to pet her or give her a treat, for example.
If you are in a house with multiple cats, you may see this more often as different cats fight to claim you as their own or mark you as protected by one specific cat, or an older cat telling a newer cat that you are safe and can be trusted.
Cats sniff your face to ensure that you are still alive. Also, their sense of smell is way better than ours because they have over 200 million odor sensors.
While they can’t verbally communicate if they smell something concerning, it may feel good to know that if your cat sniffs your face and then decides it is time to lay on you and purr, your cat may just be trying to heal you from a head cold.
Cats also sniff your face to verify that it really is you! Everyone has a scent, and even if humans can’t smell other people’s scents, cats sure can.
Cats will do this, especially when you are sleeping, because if all they can see is a head sticking out from under the covers, the best way to be sure it is you is to sniff.
Domestic cats keep kneading long after kittenhood. It is a holdover from nursing, but your cat continuing to do it does not mean she was not appropriately weaned. Some domestic cats still just do it. It is an act that makes them comfortable, and ultimately, you should be honored that they think of you as safe enough to do this with.
It does not change the fact that it is incredibly uncomfortable for your cat to be kneading on your face. Rather than punish him for doing so, offer him something that smells like you, such as a blanket or a sweatshirt.
In addition to encouraging them to knead on something else, you will also want to spend more time snuggling and petting your cat. Or let it knead on the blanket while it sits on your lap.
That way, your cat still recognizes you as a trusted and comforting person, without you dealing with their claws on your face.
Licking is part of how cats groom. You are part of their pack, in a way. Therefore, they want to groom you as part of their duties. Hence, your cat will lick your face. It is another way your cat expresses affection.
The act of licking is part of a social bond between cats and also their humans. Think of it less as grooming and more another way your cat shows his affection. It is important not to discourage this behavior too much because it does show that your cat trusts you, and you do not want to break their trust.
Also, you are not expected to lick your cat in return! Petting works just fine.
Not to be confused with an aggressive bite, little bites on the face, especially when you are sleeping, are used to get your attention. Granted, why your cat wants your attention could be many things including:
- She wants to go outside
- Litterbox is full
- The water bowl is empty
- She is hungry and out of food
- She wants a treat
- She is bored and wants to play
This is one surefire way to get your attention when your cat does it intentionally. Usually, this means your cat is bored and wants to play. It could also be that your cat fell off a headboard, bookshelf, or bedside table. Let’s be real here, not every cat is 100% coordinated all the time.
Suppose the jumping on your face coincides with many other destructive or anxious behaviors. In that case, it might indicate that your cat is under-stimulated and wants more attention from you throughout the day. These behaviors include:
- Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
- Excessive scratching of furniture
- Not leaving you alone
- Separation anxiety
If these behaviors occur frequently, try to spend more time with your cat as the day goes on and see if things improve. If not, it might be a good idea to check with your vet.
A Status Symbol
One last thing to consider, especially when you are sleeping, is that the alpha cat will want to be up by your head as a mark of status in multi-cat households. Cats underneath the alpha will have to do with your chest and your legs.