Does Your Cat Like to Touch You?

Cat touching person

Cat deliberately touching a person’s arm

My cat likes to touch me. The interesting part of this is that he just likes to place his paw against my hand. I feel sure that my hand or arm has to be bare so that he can feel the warmth of it and achieve a genuine touch, a connection, flesh to flesh.

He does this unprompted and he does it deliberately. He must like it. He must want to do it and it must give him pleasure to do it. He lies down over me while I am working and then reaches out for my hand or lower arm. He doesn’t do it all the time but these days he does it frequently.

I remember the picture by DW of Marvin, a wonderful ginger tabby feral cat turned domestic cat, who who did exactly the same thing with his friend Daisy the family dog.

Cat and dog hold hands

Cat and dog hold hands. Photo by Dorothy

This is a particular kind of contact. I think that it is important. The paw is placed gently as mentioned against the recipient.

I think that this is quite an important type of behaviour. It is a behaviour which seems to express the same sort of emotions that people have and which motivates people to touch each other in the same sort of way.

Some people are touchy-feely and some people are not but everyone who deeply likes someone will want to touch them and the classic way is to hold hands. This is an expression of togetherness and it is done because it feels good. It feels good emotionally. And I have to presume therefore that my cat does it for the same reason.

There’s lots of talk about cat emotions. We don’t really know much about the emotions of a domestic cat. We know they can be sad and happy and feel depressed or feel sprightly and playful. But some of the other emotions that humans feel we’re not sure about in respect of the domestic cat.

I hope that my cat touching me like this provides an insight into the emotions of a domestic cat. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s doing it because we are connected emotionally (mentally) and he wants to connect physically at the same time. It is a desire which confirms (if one is needed) that a domestic cat can form a deep friendship with a human.

I hope that cat owners everywhere realise this. If they do, I hope that it ensures that they are respectful towards their cat. The more we understand what is going on in the head of our cat the more we are likely to be respectful of her or him because a lot is going on contrary to what some people believe.

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Does Your Cat Like to Touch You? — 31 Comments

  1. What a coincidence that you have written and posted this today Michael, just yesterday afternoon I was telling Ruth how while we were sitting as we usually do, Walter in the computer chair and me on a kitchen chair at my computer upstairs he reached out and laid his paw on my knee and left it there for some time, it was lovely, it made me feel as though he loves me and was letting me know by his soft touch that he was happy to be sitting there beside me. This has happened before with both boys while sitting beside them somewhere, they are moments of communication between cat and person to really treasure.

    • I am pleased because I think that this is quite an important behaviour of the domestic cat. It’s a very positive signal that our cat likes to be physically close to us. This also tells us that the “solitary cat” is not true, certainly no longer.

    • I wonder what that means…really. That is so, just so special, when that happens. Because, I believe very strongly that our cats watch us, scrutinize us in that hyper vigilant mode, as it is called in the human world, and with all of the movements they have akin to ours, they do use. It is so amazing to me! I believe that this is a learned response to our behaviors, our movements. They do what they can with what they have, and sometimes, more often than we realize perhaps, put all of their effort into mimicking our movements/gestures. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it 😉 But I have witnessed this in certain cats, and it does not manifest as a fluke, as far as I have witnessed.

      • Let me explain further. If your cat is very respectful and trusting of you, because you show him/her the same, then just as you tend to adopt the beloved cat’s behavior, she will attempt to adopt some of your gestures. I know that sounds crazy, but I have observed patterns of behavior in older cats that been my family for years, and I do see patterns that did not exist when they were very young, simply stated.

      • You make an interesting point, Cal. Cats do watch us and copy us, as we know. I had not given a thought to the idea that my cat is copying me when he wants to touch me.

        To be honest, in this instance, I do not think he is copying me. I think it’s an innate response to an emotional connection. In which case, as you say, it is important. It is very important aspect of a cat’s behaviour.

        It may be an extension of the fact that cats do sometimes sleep next to cats with whom they are close friends. They sleep in actual contact with friends and relatives. This does not happen all the time but there are many photographs on the Internet where you can see this.

  2. yes both my cats rebel and smokey do that. Just the other day smokey was sleeping and he reached out with his paw. Cats have true emotions and feelings.

  3. I often worry that my loved ones are frustrated, due to their limitations in their bodies, after having spent so much time with us, observing us, and needing to mimic our behavior (just like we desire and try to mimic theirs), out of respect and love that needs/wants to be reciprocated.

    • Another good point, I believe. An example is when a cat wants to rub his head against us to exchange his scent he may go up on his hind quarters to try and gain height. The disparity in our sizes is certainly an obstacle in our relationship. We are a mismatch and the relationship between a cat and another species may work better such as the relationship between a cat and a dog.

      • My cat Shrimp likes to go out at 3am to wait for his outdoor companion, the young opossum, for his own reasons. They have a bond, that maybe stemmed from Shrimp’s country life as a very young kitten. I have no clue. It may have stemmed from his growing up at Orchard Street, in the back forty, where we had all kinds of wildlife, including a family of opossums and raccoons on the patio beneath my bedroom window (where I was posted in the middle of the night, for years). I will never know.

        My height, over Shrimp’s, will always bother me. That is why so often, I say on PoC, you must please get down on your hands and knees and interact with your little ones… they ALWAYS appreciate it. <3

        • As Michael commented, it isn’t always about towering over them while they wait to be fed, nor expecting them to get close while you are sitting, and crawl onto your lap. Get down at their level…it doesn’t matter if you have a bad back or bad knees. They give in to our needs. Let us give in to theirs, especially since they cannot communicate with us at our language skills. We are too egotistical. 🙂

          • People are too egotistical in general and look down on the domestic cat physically and psychologically except, of course, all of us: the community of cat lovers who understand and care about cats.

            • You know, Michael, this is so true. We are the only species able to communicate at this level, making us egocentric, yet we have not mastered anything, really. I get lost in my thoughts when I get on this… Anyway, I do believe that I am not just a catlover; I am truly an adorer, and try to be just as thoughtful as I can, always trying harder to be in the moment, and not distracted. Thanks for this article and your comments 🙂

        • We are often on the floor with our boyz, everyone should get down to remind themselves how our cats see the world.

  4. So often, I too, have a paw on my forearm or hand when on the computer. Sometimes, I’ll be squatted to get something on the floor, and a paw from a counter or table above pats my head.
    But, as I’ve said before, the best in all my world is when a feral comes up from behind and places a paw on my ankle or calf when I am putting down feeders and water. I tear up every time, especially if he was hissing and spitting at me last year. Those affirmations are important to me.

    • I can see that being a beautiful thing when a feral cat makes a physical and emotional connection with you. It is almost like they are coming out of a tough wild world to a more friendly world. All feral cats should be domestic cats, shouldn’t they? They are in the wrong place and when they touch you and connect with you there are half the back to where they should be.

  5. How sweet to be catching up with POC after days away, only to see my two sweet darlings on the page. Marvin was an unexpected gift to Daisy in her last few months of life. He adored her. Now I have the pleasure of that gentle paw touch myself. Thanks Michael.

    • That pic is so touching.
      I don’t think I know Daisy’s story.
      She looks adorable.
      Losing a dog is unbelievably painful too.

      • Daisy had a very happy and long life. Considering she was 90 lbs, she lived to be an old lady dog. Bigfoot taught her how to be okay with cats. Marvin just walked into her life and claimed her as his own. He even took walks with her. To see the two of them walking down the street was a pleasure I never expected. Marvin would have curled up with her if she allowed it, but being old and stiff, it was too much trouble. He settled for the back of her bed. They were never far apart.

  6. Monty’s doing it now– reaching out and touching me with his paw on my arm. He wants out. He must have caught sight of that chipmunk that lives back there and he is frantic to get out there and smack it around, but it’s late and cold out. Monty only touches me when he wants something. When that fails he sits on my head and chews on my hair or rakes his claws against my scalp. And meows. He’s very vocal.

  7. Wow stop putting your human emotions onto your cats. Do you not notice you give your cat more attention when they put their paw on you? They learned they can get attention by doing that.head butts are them spreading their scent on you. I watch dog and cat owners and are amazed how the animals are training the human owners because owners see more to their actions then there is.

    • Thanks for commenting but I disagree with you. I am not putting human emotions onto cats. I believe that cats like to be in contact with people they are very friendly with and with whom they live. It is as simple as that. I believe my observation is perfectly reasonable and almost common sense. You see cats grooming each other. These are cat associates (friends). Touching us, as described, is very similar.

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