Why does my cat tap me when i’m sleeping?

Have you ever been jolted awake by the sensation of your cat tapping you in your sleep? It can be a startling and confusing experience, but fear not. As an expert in feline behavior, I’m here to shed some light on why our furry friends have this habit.

Firstly, cats are creatures of routine and familiarity. They thrive on structure and repetition, so if tapping has become part of their nightly ritual, it’s because they find it comforting and familiar.

Another reason for tapping could be their way of showing affection. Our feline friends often use their paws to express emotions like love and appreciation. Perhaps your cat is simply saying “thank you” for being a warm and cozy sleeping partner.

But sometimes tapping is a more practical way for cats to communicate with us. They may tap us to wake us up if they need something, like a refill of food or water or a clean litter box. Cats are sticklers for routine and schedule, so they will do what it takes to get their human’s attention when necessary.

So next time you feel those little taps on your arm or face in the middle of the night, don’t be alarmed – it’s just your cat’s unique way of communicating with you. Whether it’s out of love or necessity, we can appreciate these little gestures from our feline friends who always find ways to surprise us.

What is the Reason for a Cat Tapping its Owner When Sleeping?

While it’s an unusual behavior, it’s not uncommon among cats. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats tap their owners when sleeping.

Cats have an inherent desire for attention and affection from their owners. They use tapping as a form of communication to get their owner’s attention. Whether they want to play or just some cuddle time, tapping is a way for them to engage with their human companions.

As nocturnal animals, cats may be more active during the night when their owners are sleeping. Tapping could be a way for them to initiate playtime when they’re feeling energetic and playful.

Cats are creatures of habit, and if they’ve grown accustomed to being fed or given water at specific times, they may tap their owners to remind them of their schedule. It’s their way of communicating their needs without resorting to meowing or other vocalizations.

Tapping could also be a sign that your cat is feeling anxious or stressed. It’s essential to observe your cat’s behavior and ensure they’re getting enough attention and affection to alleviate any feelings of anxiety.

Seeking Attention

It may seem like an odd behavior, but it’s important to understand why your feline friend is seeking attention.

Despite their independent nature, cats still crave affection and companionship from their human counterparts. Tapping or pawing at their sleeping owner can be a sign that they are feeling lonely, bored, or simply want some cuddles. It’s their way of communicating with you and asking for some quality time together.

As nocturnal creatures, cats may become restless during the night when their owners are asleep. They may tap you to try and wake you up so that you can provide them with some much-needed attention. This behavior is especially common in single-cat households where the cat may feel lonely during the night and tap you as a way of seeking companionship.

Another reason why your cat may be tapping you is to signal that they are hungry or thirsty. Cats can be very particular about their routines and may expect to be fed at certain times of the day. If your cat is tapping you during the night, it’s possible that they are trying to remind you to feed them.

To prevent this behavior at night, it’s important to provide your cat with plenty of attention and stimulation during the day. Play with them, pet them, and give them lots of love and affection. Setting up a regular feeding schedule and providing plenty of fresh water can also help ensure that your cat isn’t tapping you out of hunger or thirst.

Natural Instincts

While it may seem like an annoyance, this behavior is actually a natural instinct for cats. As an expert in animal behavior, let me shed some light on why cats tap their owners while they sleep.

Firstly, cats are natural predators, and their instincts drive them to hunt and pounce on prey. When your cat taps you while you sleep, it’s a sign that they are in their hunting mode. It’s their way of practicing their hunting skills which include stalking, pouncing, and biting. They may even knead on you with their paws, mimicking the motion of killing prey.

But tapping can also be a sign of affection and companionship. Cats crave attention and stimulation from their owners, especially during the night when they may become restless. Tapping can be a way for your cat to seek comfort or cuddles. Kittens, in particular, rely on their mothers for warmth and security, so tapping and kneading on their owner is a way for them to replicate this feeling.

In some cases, tapping can be a sign of anxiety or stress. Cats are creatures of habit and routine, so if your cat taps you while you sleep every night, it could be a behavioral issue that requires attention. Establishing a consistent routine for your cat and providing enough playtime and stimulation during the day can help reduce stress and anxiety.


After delving into this topic, I’ve concluded that there are several reasons behind this curious behavior.

Why does my cat tap me when i'm sleeping-2

For starters, cats are hunters at heart, and tapping is a way for them to assert their dominance and claim their territory. As nocturnal animals, cats are naturally active during the night and may try to engage their owners in play or seek attention. Tapping may be their way of saying “this is my space, and I’m here.”

On the other hand, tapping can also be a sign of affection and companionship. Cats form deep bonds with their owners and show love in various ways. Tapping could be a way for them to greet their owner or say “I love you” while seeking attention.

It’s crucial to recognize that communication is vital between cats and their owners. Understanding why your cat taps you while you’re sleeping can help you interpret their needs and respond accordingly. If your cat is tapping you for attention or playtime, it’s best to engage with them before bedtime to prevent sleep disturbances.

Other Possible Reasons

While seeking attention and exhibiting natural instincts are the most common reasons why a cat may tap their owner, there are other possible motivations that can shed light on this peculiar behavior. Let’s explore them together.

Waking you up for their needs

One possible reason for your cat’s tapping habit is that they want to wake you up for their own needs, such as wanting to be fed or let outside. Cats are creatures of habit and have a routine they prefer to stick to. If your cat is used to being fed or let out at a certain time, they may tap you to remind you that it’s time for them to get what they want.

Seeking attention

Another possible reason is that your cat is seeking attention. Cats are social animals and crave affection from their owners. If your cat feels neglected during the day or doesn’t get enough playtime, they may tap you while you sleep to get your attention. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, I’m here, and I need some love.”

Marking their territory

Tapping can also be a way for cats to mark their territory. While cats are generally clean animals, they still have a natural instinct to mark their territory with their scent. By tapping you, your cat may be leaving their scent on you as a way of claiming you as their own.

Discomfort or pain

If your cat is experiencing discomfort or pain, they may tap you as a way of alerting you to the problem. It’s essential to pay attention to any noticeable changes in your cat’s behavior patterns, like excessive tapping or limping.


Lastly, some cats may simply want to play with their owners while they sleep. They see it as an enjoyable way to bond and interact with their favorite human. If your cat is tapping you gently with their paw and seems playful, it’s likely that they want to have some fun.

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To sum up, if you’ve ever been woken up by your cat tapping you in your sleep, don’t fret – it’s a common habit among cats. As creatures of routine and familiarity, cats often find tapping comforting and familiar. They may also tap as a way to show affection or communicate their needs, such as hunger or thirst. Moreover, tapping can be a sign that your cat is feeling anxious or stressed.

Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help you better understand your cat’s needs and respond accordingly. Tapping is just one of the ways our feline friends communicate with us, whether they’re seeking attention or displaying natural instincts.

It’s crucial to remember that communication is vital in any relationship, including the one with our pets. By paying attention to your cat’s behavioral patterns and providing them with enough playtime and stimulation during the day, you can ensure they feel loved and comfortable at night.