What Does It Mean When a Cat Lets You Touch Its Paws?

What Does It Mean When a Cat Lets You Touch Its Paws

Unlike dogs, cats do not readily give their paws to their humans. As predators, cats rely on their paws to catch prey and to fend off potential attackers. As such, it can be surprising to have your cat reach out to you with his paw, signaling you to touch it.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Lets You Touch Its Paws

There are four possible reasons why a cat lets you touch its paws:

  • He wants to play with you.
  • He wants your attention.
  • He is showing contentment.
  • He is getting impatient.

Lets look at some more detailed information on the topic:

1. Your cat wants to play.

When two cats that have an established bond, they will go through ritual signaling that they want to play with one another. And a part of that ritual is playfully slapping each other.

When your cat touches you with his paw, look at his overall energy. If he is lively and cheerful, he is asking you to play with him. 

2. Your cat wants your attention.

If you are lounging on the couch and your cat sits beside you and tries to paw you, it can mean that he wants your attention. 

Perhaps he just wants to cuddle next to you. Or maybe he wants a belly rub or a treat. Whatever his intention may be, this type of paw touching means that your feline does not want to be ignored.

3. Your cat is getting impatient

If you have been taking too long to give your cat something that he is craving, like his favorite treat or his next meal, he can use his paw to tell you to hurry up.

4. Your cat is showing contentment

If your cat reaches for your hand with his paws and begins kneading it, it means that your pet is showing his contentment.

Cats knead blankets and fabrics or even their humans because it gives them a sense of security and contentment.

Kneading reminds felines of the time when they were still nursing with their mom and littermates. And for a cat owner, this is the highest praise that your pet can give you.

Why cats do not like getting their paws touched

Unlike dogs that will do practically anything to please their humans, cats are wired differently. It is uncommon for cats to offer their paws for their humans to hold.

In fact, if you attempt to touch or hold the paw of an untrained cat, he can react aggressively. But why do some cats do not like getting their paws touched?

First, you have to think of your cat as a predator. He might look cute and cuddly, but he is a capable hunter. And his paws and claws have a lot to do with that. For him, his claws are vital weapons that can ensure his survival.

But because of their relatively small size, cats can also see themselves as the prey of larger animals, including strange humans. 

A cat may not like getting his paws touched because he might feel that you are taking his ability to defend himself. Backed into a corner, a cat may not be able to take down a large predator. But with his claws, he can make enough damage, just enough to cause a distraction and an opening for him to run away.

Another possible reason why a cat may not let you touch his paws is that these are sensitive to the touch.

Cats use their paws as a sensory organ. Each paw contains numerous nerves that help your cat to detect movement around him. The presence of these nerves can also make his paws extra sensitive.

If you touch the paws of an unexpecting cat, you might be overloading the nerves which can be painful to your pet.

Why you should train your cat to let you touch his paws

You may want to touch your paws to play with his cute toe beans but there are a few valid reasons why you should train your pet to allow you to touch his paws.

Trimming his nails

For one, you will need to trim your pet’s nails regularly. First, to protect your furniture and other belongings from scratches. And second, and more importantly, for his health and wellbeing.

Your pet’s nails can grow at a fast rate, requiring regular trimming. Otherwise, these can grow too long that they begin to curl. This can be quite painful and can make walking difficult for your pet.

Cleaning his paws

From time to time, you will also need to clean your cat’s paws. Although cats are fastidious creatures and can do a stellar job of cleaning and grooming themselves, they may require your assistance occasionally.

Sometimes dirt, debris, and litter can get stuck in their paws. The fur on the paws can also get tangled or matted. With your assistance, you can keep the paws clean and free from tangles and mats.

Treating injuries

Your cat can get himself caught in mishaps, like fights with the neighborhood cats, or get foreign objects lodged in his paws.

During these instances, you will need to clean the affected paw and administer first aid to it.

How to train your cat

Although most cats will not readily give their paws to their owners, most can be trained to do so.

Here are a few tips that will help you achieve that goal.

1. Prepare your cat

Before beginning a training session with your cat, you should put him in a relaxed state. It also helps if you create a positive environment by praising him.

Remember, your goal is to allow you to let him touch him, including his paws. At any point during the training, your cat should not feel threatened.

2. Start slow

Start your training by focusing on the areas that you know that your cat loves being touched. It can be the area behind his ears or his head.

From there, make your strokes longer and turn your attention to his back and his hind legs. After that, move to his side. 

If your cat is enjoying the training session, he will roll on his back, exposing his stomach. Give him a belly rub.

3. Use caution when touching sensitive areas

Over time, you will learn which are the sensitive areas on your cat’s body. These may include his mouth, ears, paws, and tail.

To keep your cat at ease, touch these areas for just a second. After that, reward your cat with his favorite treat. Then, hold these areas for two seconds before handing him another treat. Continue increasing the duration before giving him a treat.

As you progress, your pet will associate your touch with something positive.

4. Take advantage of playtime

Playtime can also be a good opportunity to train your cat to learn how to accept being touched.

During playtime, take advantage of him being distracted by a toy. It would also be helpful to provide him treats and words of praise to reinforce his training.

A matter of trust

If you know why cats do not readily allow their paws to be touched, it can be particularly heartwarming when your pet gives you his paws.

Whatever the reason may be, it only means that you have established a high degree of trust with your pet.

Image: istockphoto.com / dima_sidelnikov