why does my cat reach his paw out to me

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Cats have intuitive ways of communicating with us in both verbal and non-verbal forms. As a pet parent, you have most certainly been in a situation where you are puzzled by your cat’s behavior.

One such occasion is when your tabby extends a paw to you and you could have misinterpreted what they are trying to communicate.

You might have then wondered ‘why does my cat reach his paw out to me?’

Sometimes it can be an outright sign of affection while in other instances, the cat might be inviting you to join them for a play, among other reasons.

The communication barrier between humans and cats means that we have to learn their forms of communicating to make our relationships better.

Come along with us in this post as we explore why your cat might be stretching out his paw to you and provide you with the possible reasons for this fascinating behavior.

10 Reasons Why Your Cat Reaches His Paws Out to You

For you to figure out why your cat is reaching out their paw to you, you should carefully observe their body language, moods, and behavior around you.

Here are some of the reasons that explain this behavior for cats:

1. They are seeking your attention

Cats are social animals and they will easily get bored when they stay lonely for a long time. Your furry friend will reach out their paw to you as a gesture to call for your attention.

They are simply saying ‘hey, it’s me here!’.

When your cat needs your company, they will most certainly combine this signal with other non-verbal cues to make the request more pronounced.

Some will go ahead and attack your legs, lick your arms, or just lie on your lap to make you aware of their presence.

why does my cat reach his paw out to me

You should always give your cat the attention they need and look out for what they’re trying to convey to you.

If you continuously ignore your cat, they will most certainly become anxious and might decide to engage in destructive behaviors to finally get the attention you denied them.

2. They want some food

Some cats can come up with interesting ways of requesting food and this includes reaching out their paws to you.

If your furry friend comes out to you and lends their paws out while meowing with a smirking face, then they might be trying to ask you to fill their food bowls.

If you feed your cat when they extend a paw to you, then they will quickly learn that this gesture gets them the meal and will most certainly repeat it during subsequent mealtimes.

You can know if your cat is very hungry when they follow you around or goes to their feeding station while meowing.

3. They need some petting

Your cat might be inviting you to pet them when they extend their paws to your arms. This is a sign that they not only want your presence, but also crave some petting in the form of gentle strokes, or a soft massage on their ears.

If your cat lies on their back and relaxes once you touch them, then this is an inviting sign that you should continue petting them.

Be careful not to touch your cat’s sensitive areas such as the tail and abdomen when stroking their body. Touching such areas could lead to discomfort or pain, especially when done briskly.

If your cat hisses and puffs out their fur when touching them, it could be a sign that they are not in the mood for petting.

4. They are showing affection

Cats have various ways of passing their affections to us and reaching out their paws is one of them.

If you are already seated close by your cat on the bed/couch, then they might do this gesture to communicate their comfort and appreciation of your presence.

5. They could be injured

Cats can be very good at hiding pain, but at times the discomfort is too much to be concealed. When your furry friend hurts their paws, they will most probably stick them out in the air and reach out for your help.

Cats are most likely to sustain paw and leg injuries due to their love of climbing places and jumping high.

If your cat’s paw is injured, they will most certainly make verbal pronouncements in the form of high-pitched meowing or purring.

A sleeping cat with an extended paw

A sure way to know if the paws are injured is by physically examining them to look out for any physical damage or bruises.

If you notice any injury on their paws, you should perform first aid and cover the wound to prevent contact with germs and bacteria as you plan for a visit to the vet.

6. They want to play

Cats have the instinct to hunt and they satisfy it by playing and sometimes chasing down prey.

They can be so skilled in creating their own fun but sometimes they need our company to spice up their game sessions.

If the cat reaches out their paws to you, they might be inviting you to join them for play. This is a habit that has been molded since their kittenhood stage where they will poke each other’s heads when playing.

Make sure to provide your furbaby with plenty of cat toys and give them some of your time in their collaborative games.

7. They want to groom you

Cats are detailed groomers and they can spend hours on end grooming themselves each day. If your tabby is reaching out to you with their paws, this could be a sign that they want to groom your body.

In this case, you will notice that the cat will proceed to lick and nibble some parts of your body to brush you up and remove some dirt.

8. They are marking territory

Cats are territorial animals and they might get interested in leaving their scent to you as a way of claiming you.

Cats have interdigital scent glands on their paw pads which leave pheromones when they stretch out and spread their claws.

So, it is completely normal when your furbaby reaches out their paws to you and rubs them against your body for a few minutes.

This behavior will come out clearly in a multi-cat home or when you introduce a new feline into the family. The resident cat will try their best to mark their territory and this includes claiming you.

9. They are showing dominance

Still on the territoriality of cats, your furry friend might be reaching out their paws to you in a bid to show ‘who’s the boss here’.

The cat will most likely lay their claws on you and bat you a little with some bits of scratching when in a bid to showcase their domination.

Cat stretching out her paw

If you notice your furbaby is trying hard to dominate the house, you can provide them with their own territory in the form of a cat tree as an alternative place to dominate over.

10. They are curious

Cats are curious animals who love exploring their surroundings to discover new items and objects. Your cat may get inquisitive about something you are doing or holding and they may end up reaching out their paws to you.

If the cat is reaching out for a specific thing you are holding, then it could be a sign that they want to interact with the object and not you.

This behavior is most likely to be seen with kittens who are adjusting and trying to learn more about their new surroundings.

Should I Ignore My Cat When He Reaches His Paws Out to Me?

No, you should not ignore your cat when he reaches his paws out to you. You should however try to work out what your furry friend is trying to tell you.

It could be just a simple stretch to align their muscles, but it is always good to be sure and attend to your cat if need be.

Ignoring your cat will only make them get stressed, or anxious, and could start avoiding you. 

They could in turn come up with unwanted ways of getting your attention including engaging in destructive behavior.

Understanding The Behavior of Cats Reaching Out Their Paws

As we have seen, there are many reasons why your tabby might extend a paw to you. This means that it could be difficult to understand the behavior especially if you are new to cat parenting.

However, with time and continuous bonding with your feline friend, you will be able to comprehend their verbal & nonverbal cues and this will help you in responding accordingly.

A good place to start is to know the signs of a happy cat, and their verbal & visual modes of communication.

You can also work with an expert who is experienced with feline body language to help pace you up in understanding your cat.

2 Things to Do to Show Your Love to Your Cat

There are various ways that your cats will express their unbounded love to you. But what can you do in return?

Here are the 2 top things you can do to reciprocate your love for the cat:

1. Petting and massage

Cats love gentle stroking, belly rubs (if they trust you enough), and those soft touches on their ears. Petting and massaging your cat will help them to feel relaxed and get more connected to you.

Set aside some quality time each day and stroke your furry friend gently on their back and give them a smooth belly rub for a few minutes.

By doing this, your cat will feel more appreciated and loved. It also helps to align their muscles and improve their physical fitness to stay active.

A woman holding a cat

2. Give them your attention

What better way to show your cat some love than to give them your time and a listening ear? Cats are social animals and they love being in the companionship of their fellow pets and human family.

You can give them your attention by staying up close with them, cuddling & snuggling on the couch, going for a walk, or even engaging in an interactive game with them.

Giving your cat enough attention goes a long way in assuring them that you are always there for them aside from expressing your love.


1. Why does my cat reach out his paws to my face?

This is a possible gesture of trying to find your attention, investigating your face, passing affection, or inviting you for a play. You can narrow down to discover what your cat wants by looking at other cues.

If they’re meowing or purring, and head-butting you, then it is most likely that they are drawing your mind to something.

If they bat at your nose or mouth, then this could be a telling sign that they are trying to initiate play with you.

Finally, if the cat is tapping on your face with keen observation, then they could be investigating something on your face. It could be a tiny crawling insect or just a peck in the eye.

2. Why does my cat reach his paws out to me while sleeping?

This could be a sign that your cat is dreaming and it is a natural part of their sleeping cycle.

Highly random dreams will make your cat move around during sleep and this might involve extending their paws to you.

Sometimes the dream might be accompanied by low-pitched vocalization and body-twitching.

3. Why does my cat tap me with her paws?

Your cat could tap you with their paws when they are calling out for your attention on something disturbing them. They may be alerting you to concentrate or just trying to initiate a play with you.

At times cats may tap their owners in a bid to communicate their dissatisfaction and discomfort when you get into their space.

They simply want to be left alone and if you ignore this cue, they will walk away with frustration.

4. Why does my cat reach out and touch me?

Cats will often reach out and get physical with their owners when they want to communicate their affection in a bid to get attention.

How your cat touches you should also give you a clue of what they need. If they do so softly and tenderly, then they might just be passing down their love to you and appreciating your companionship.

But if the touch is vigorous, then they might be in a bid to call you to join them in a play session.


Why does my cat reach his paw out to me? We have seen that various reasons may make your cat perform this gesture to you.

The most important thing is to try and figure out what your cat may be trying to tell you in comparison with their moods and other cues including both verbal and non-verbal.

Knowing what your cat is trying to communicate is a good way of being ready to attend to them and strengthening your bond.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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