The one cat I’ve known to do this the absolute most, Aramis, is no longer living with me, but she was for somewhere around 8 months to a year and now lives with my brother, so I’m her auntie and she doesn’t live too far so I see her often.
Boy does she still do it often, whether or not I live with her, I firsthand know.
(Yeah she’s good at asking for cuddles, irresistible!)
The second cat I’ve met that does this is my first cat, Avery, who we’ve brought with us from Canada to the UK to and then later on our move to Portugal (where we live right now), and all the time he’s been with us, he really has done this quite consistently, but in specific situations, and nowhere near as frequently as the Aramis.
I have a feeling they did this behaviour for similar reasons, and yet, I know other cats do it for others.
That being said, I’ve definitely got a hunch that the reason these two cats both put their paw on your mouth is probably the most common reason.
And while I think they do it for a few others, it’s primarily just one.
I have to say that I think this behaviour is definitely distinct from reaching a paw out to a human, and also distinct from licking a human’s face, but quite similar to a cat touching a human face with their paw or booping your nose.
But let me know if you think any other common cat behaviours are overlaps with this one.
So I’m going to state that and then list a few other reasons I think cats do this, and if you have any stories of cats putting their paw on your mouth, I’d love to know your thinking behind why they do it as well as why you think some cats do it more than others!
Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments, it would be really interesting to see everyone’s opinions in one place.
Alright, now on to why I think cats do this.
Explanations for Why Cats Put Their Paw on Their Human’s Mouth
1. To get you to stop smothering them with affection.
Before you get all “What do you mean?? What are you doing to your cat?” – please note that the two cats that do this in my presences are both incredibly obsessed with human interaction and love attention and pets and cuddles.
That being said, in my experience, 99% of the time they will have put their paw on the mouth of a human after a series of events something like this:
They’ll have quite a long bout of positive interaction with the human, where they have been picked up and cuddled (which they love, these two in particular at least), carried and pet and held in such a way where they’re facing their owner.
At the point where they grow sick of the interaction, usually when they want to be put down if I’m honest, that’s what I feel triggers the hand-on-human-mouth situation.
You know how when you get to be too much for a kiddo by kissing their cute lil’ cheeks and even if they love the attention and affection at first, eventually they just become sick of it and go, “Moommm” or “Grandmaaaa” and then that’s the cue to stop?
I don’t have any kids but I know this is what I’d do as a kid, especially with my grandma but I loved her affection up until the point where I started whining, haha.
In any case, I feel like this is the cat equivalent! Had my fill of affection, let’s put me down and move on.
2. They’re propping themselves up, and your mouth is as good a target as any.
Well I did say these two cats pretty much only did this behaviour if I’m holding ’em up and toward my face, and that’s not the most easy position for a cat to lie in cause, yes they are slinkies, but they’re not the biggest fan of being on their back all that long because their arms aren’t the best supported in that position.
So they put their paw on your face, and that’s enough tension to keep ’em square in place. Why not? And why your mouth? I’m guessing it’s a pretty comfortable place, and it probably stands out on your face.
I’ve gotten a bit of hand-on-nose action before as well, but who could resist either. They probably look like giant “Press Here” buttons to cats.
3. Cats may put their paw on your mouth to get you to stop kissing.
My Avery loves being kissed. He even gives me his own kisses sometimes (okay he headbutts my chin or my lips or my nose, and scents any or all of the above or my glasses, then sometimes gets to the point where he’s nibbling my nose with a love bite in between, but that’s kisses right??), and we do a sort of exchange by taking turns over and over for around 5-10 minutes sometimes.
Actually my brother’s cat Kalista also loves being kissed (that’s her reaching for top-of-the-head kisses in the photo below), and his cat Aramis doesn’t seem to care one way or another, but we don’t often kiss her cause she is SO floof (super long hair versus the other two who are short haired cats) and we don’t like getting too many mouthfuls of hair so we often just give her a peck or two, meaning with her paw-on-mouth behaviour, that’s not what this is.
But with Avery it most certainly is sometimes. I think in connection with the first comment.
4. Cats may put their paw on your mouth to get you to stop talking or moving.
I grouped these two together because they do seem to fit in my opinion.
So the previous explanation was most likely the secondary explanation to my Avery’s behaviour, and this is the one most likely to be the secondary explanation to Aramis’ paw-on-mouth behaviour.
Because if you’re holding her chances are good it’s while you’re sitting slouched on the sofa cuddling her, and then you’re sitting around talking to other people while cuddling her, and then she’ll do this, almost to shut you up or shush you as it moves her when you talk and laugh since you’ve got her on your belly/chest.
So she’s often like, “Enough hooman, you move too much, be a good comfy chair.” And then when you quit talking or moving she will gently hold her paw to your mouth still while purring like a little fluffy adorable mess who’s just got what she wanted.
5. Depending on context, your cat could want something else from you, like cuddles, attention, or to wake you up!
Some cats mean other things by this than, “Stop that!” or using their hand-on-your-mouth to gain some stability so they don’t move too much while you hold ’em.
While cats often just reach out their paw to demand cuddles, they will sometimes boop you on the nose or touch your mouth to get you to cuddle them, especially if this has proven to be effective at getting them the attention now.
If your cat’s booping you on the mouth in the morning and you’re waking up, chances are good that’s why he or she’s doing it and you waking is the answer.
Or it could be that he or she wants something else? Like to be groomed? Or maybe like like food in the morning, or for you to refill her water, or clean her litter. Or play?
Or to entertain her passively because she’s bored and has nothing else to watch or do (what’s better than people watching when the bird watching’s done?).
Why your mouth though? I don’t know, but odds are your cat did this randomly once and it worked so now you’ve accidentally taught her that’s the button you press to have the-thing-she-wants happen.
Yup, yup; she knows your behaviour better than you do.
Your Thoughts on Cats Putting Their Paws on Human Mouths?
Now it’s your turn to take to the comments and let me know why you think some cats do this!
I would love to hear your thoughts, whether or not you think I’ve got all the bases covered here (I’m sure I’ve left plenty out!) and what you think are the most common reasons for booping a human on the mouth.
Do you have any experience with cats who do this? Do you think they do it for mostly the same reason or very different reasons?
And do the cats you know who do this do any other similar behaviours?
Would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments down below!