Why Do Cats Put Their Paws on Your Arms While Sleeping?

Your cuddly companion is spreading her scent.
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You and Abby have an evening routine. After flipping on the tube and settling in your recliner, she jumps in your lap and snuggles with your arm. While purring loudly, she blissfully drifts away into a feline wonderland. Cats curl up with your arm to show affection and claim territory.

Staying Warm

When that afternoon sun comes creeping through your windows, Abby does whatever she can to make herself a comfortable spot to sunbathe. Kitties like being warm. By the time you get home from work, it's dark and cold. She prefers to lie in your lap because you're a natural heat source. Resting her paw on your arm is comfortable in her favorite warm spot and gives her a place to rest her head.

Showing Affection

You're gone all day interacting with co-workers and chatting with friends. But Abby stays home alone waiting for your return. You're her whole world and she's delighted to see you. As soon as you sit down, she jumps up on the edge of the sofa and rests her arm on yours. Placing her paw on your arm while she's sleeping is similar to human hugging or holding hands. She's simply telling you that she adores you and wants to be close to you. Plus, she's holding you in place, lessening the chance that you'll move while she's resting.

Spreading Scent

Felines have scent glands all over their body, including on their paw pads, Animal Planet reports. When Abby touches your arm with her paws, she's putting her scent on you. She's claiming you as her territory so no other feline can have you. Additionally by coating you with her common smell, you'll seem more familiar to her and she'll always be able to be at ease in your presence.

Related Behaviors

You'll also notice some other peculiar behaviors when your purring pal snuggles up with your arm. She may gently knead your hand by extending and relaxing her claws. While she's relaxing she'll bathe herself and will probably clean up your arm as well. If she's really excited, she might even gently nibble your skin, mimicking a kiss. These are signs Abby is truly bonded to you and considers you her entire world.

Aggression Clues

Much like you, your furry friend may become a little irritable once in a while. During your petting session while she's kneading your arm, if she starts getting aggravated, she'll let you know. Kneading, nibbling and gentle clawing should not be painful. If Abby hurts you or draws blood, she wants to be left alone. Move your arm so she can get away and let her be until she comes back around.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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