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Why Is Your Cat Is Slapping or Swatting at You? 15 Possible Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat gives her owner a paw

Cats are intelligent animals with a natural instinct to express themselves through body language. If your cat is slapping or swatting at you, it may be trying to communicate something. Here are 15 possible reasons why your cat might be doing this and how you can respond appropriately.


The 15 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Slapping or Swatting at You

1. Your Cat Is Trying to Play with You

Cats are known for their playful nature and may use swatting as a way to initiate some interactive fun. They may also gently bat at you if they’re looking for more attention or snuggles from their favorite human.

Girl playing with her cat
Photo Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Wants Food

Cats are known for being enthusiastic eaters, so it’s likely your kitty is simply letting you know it’s time for dinner especially if you’re behind schedule on feeding them.

3. Your Cat Wants to Hunt

Cats are predators and love to hunt, so if your cat is swatting at you or objects around the house it may be trying to practice its hunting skills. Provide some interactive toys that will give your cat an appropriate outlet for this instinct.

cat hunting mice in the wild
Photo Credit: Kathryn19, Pixabay

4. You’re Getting Too Close to Your Cat’s Personal Space

If you’ve noticed your cat slapping or swatting when you get too close, it could mean that they want their personal space respected. They may not be comfortable with physical contact right now, so give them some space and try interacting with them again later.

5. Your Cat Is Stressed or Anxious

Anxiety can cause cats to become more physically active in an effort to cope, so swatting at you may be a sign of stress. Try providing your cat with some calming aids like a pheromone diffuser or even just extra love and attention.

cat lying on passenger seat in a car while kneading owner's hand
Photo Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

6. Your Cat Is Showing Affection

Believe it or not, cats can show their affection in many different ways, including swats. If you’re lucky enough to have an especially cuddly kitty, this behavior might mean they want some snuggles from you. A gentle headbutt with the paw can also be a sign of this same type of affection. Enjoy these special moments with your furry friend!

7. Aggression or Fear

Swatting can also be a sign of aggression if your cat is more territorial or has had a bad experience that caused it to become fearful of certain people or objects. Be sure to identify the source of your cat’s aggression or fear and take steps to help them cope.

A cat lying on bathroom floor
Photo Credit: Danny Chang, Pixabay

8. Your Cat Is Bored

Cats love to explore, hunt, and play just like any other animal, so swatting could be a sign that it’s not getting enough mental stimulation. Providing plenty of toys and interactive activities will help keep your cat entertained and engaged.

9. You are Disturbing Their Sleep

Cats sleep for about 16 hours per day. So if your cat is swatting when you come near them while they’re napping, it may be an effort to tell you they want some peace and quiet!

grey shorthair cat lying
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

10. Your Cat Is Trying to Get Your Attention

Cats can be quite vocal and might try to get your attention with a swat if it’s not getting enough from you. Make sure your cat gets plenty of playtime, snuggles, and treats each day so they are happy and content.

11. Your Cat Is Frustrated

If your cat is swatting at you, other objects, or seemingly random things around the house it could mean that they’re feeling frustrated about something in their environment. Try providing them with some new toys, scratching posts, and interactive activities to give them an appropriate outlet for this energy.

scratched wound on a man's leg by a cat
Image Credit: Kobzev Dmitry, Shutterstock

12. You’re Not Meeting Their Needs

If you’ve been neglecting any of your cat’s basic needs such as food, water, clean litter boxes, etc., it’s possible that your cat is swatting as a way to tell you they need something from you.

13. Your Cat Is Feeling Overwhelmed

If your cat is exhibiting more aggressive behavior such as swiping at you or other animals in the house, it could be because they are feeling overwhelmed and need some time alone to relax. Try providing an area of their own with plenty of hiding spots and calming aids like pheromone diffusers or calming sprays.

main coon playing
Image Credit: Nils-Jacobi, Shutterstock

14. Your Cat Is in Pain

Swatting may also be a sign that something is wrong physically or emotionally with your cat, especially if this isn’t something your cat does often. Monitor its behavior closely for any signs of discomfort or other unusual behaviors and take them to the vet if you suspect any issues.

15. Your Cat Is Showing a Normal Hunting Instinct

If you notice your cat swatting at you, this can be a sign that they are simply exhibiting their natural hunting instincts especially if you have fringe or anything dangling from your clothes. They could also be swatting at your hair. Try providing them with interactive toys or games to help them satisfy this instinctive behavior in a safe and appropriate way.

Cat with paws raised up
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

The Bottom Line: Your Cat Is Telegraphing Its Feelings

Above all else, remember that cats communicate through body language and swats can mean a variety of things depending on the circumstances. Pay attention to your cat’s body language and behavior so you can understand why it may be swatting in any given situation.

It’s important to remember that swatting is a normal behavior for cats, so don’t be too alarmed if you notice your cat swats at objects or people. As long as the swats are not overly aggressive and your cat is not hurting anyone, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if the swatting becomes more frequent or intense then it may be time to think about seeking help from a professional veterinarian or animal behavior specialist. With the right help, you can figure out why your cat is swatting and how best to address the problem in order to keep everyone happy and safe.

hepper single cat paw divider

The 10 Tips for Making Your Swatting Cat Feel Safe and Comfortable

If you think your cat is swatting out of anxiety, stress, or boredom, there are ways to reduce this behavior. To ensure that your cat feels safe, comfortable, and entertained, try these simple tips.

  • Provide them with plenty of hiding spots around the house so they have a place to run if they feel scared or overwhelmed.
  • Give them access to windows where they can watch birds and other animals outside while feeling safe inside.
  • Offer interactive toys which help fulfill their natural hunting instincts in a safe way.
  • Spend quality one-on-one time playing with your cat so they don’t feel neglected or ignored.
  • Make sure you provide ample fresh water and food according to their dietary needs throughout the day.
  • Use pheromone diffusers or calming sprays to reduce anxiety.
  • Make sure the litter box is kept clean and easy to access.
  • Avoid disturbing them when they are sleeping or resting.
  • Spend time brushing your cat regularly to help keep their coat healthy and provide a bonding experience for you both.
  • If the swatting becomes more frequent or intense, seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behavior specialist so you can address the problem effectively and safely for everyone involved.
black cat on a cat tree with condo
Image Credit: Madalyn Cox, Unsplash

A Final Word of Caution

Although cats may not always act in a way we would like them to, it’s important to remember that they are animals and should never be harmed or punished for their natural behavior. If you observe any type of aggressive behavior from your cat, contact an experienced animal behaviorist for help as soon as possible. They will be able to provide advice on how best to help you manage the behavior, whether it be swatting or something else.



Swatting is a normal behavior in cats, and understanding the reasons why it occurs can help you better respond to your cat’s needs. Pay attention to the context of when your cat swats so that you can communicate effectively with them and create a happy home for both of you! With patience, understanding and love, your relationship with your feline friend will blossom.

Featured Image Credit: rossiaa33, Shutterstock

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