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Why Does My Cat Squeeze My Hand?

If your cat is squeezing your hand it may seem cute, at first, but it may lead you to wonder why it keeps happening… 

Why does my cat squeeze my hand?

When your cat squeezes your hand, this is one of the ways that they are showing you that they love you. Context is also important with this, however, as squeezing your hand may also indicate that the cat would like some attention as well. 

So, now you know. But, do cats mean well when they squeeze your hand? Could a cat hurt your hand by squeezing it? If it hurts, how can I prevent this from happening? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Why does my cat squeeze my hand when I am petting it?

Orange and white cat being held by woman.

Orange and white cat being held by woman.

If you are already petting them, then this squeezing can even mean, ‘you can stop petting me now, let’s just sit here together.

Pay close attention to the context, but most commonly hand-squeezing is just a way that your cat tells you that they love you.

Do cats mean well when they squeeze your hand?

Yes, your cat means well when they are squeezing your hand. Usually, your cat is just being affectionate, but even if they are squeezing your hand to get you to STOP petting, they are doing this as nicely as possible with you, and it is done out of affection.

If your cat’s squeezing is painful because they haven’t retracted their claws, then try staying still for a moment and see if the pressure lessens. Sometimes we move around a little too much and this can jostle your cat. In cases like these, squeezing is their way to communicate to you that this is happening and that they’d like you to stay still and relax.

Could a cat hurt your hand by squeezing it?

If your cat’s claws are out, then the pressure could give you a slight puncture that will sting a little, but this is not their intention. Cat’s claws in their front paws are much more versatile than the ones in the rear and are often used to grip things.

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If your cat intended to hurt you, then an actual scratch or even a bite would be more likely instead of a squeeze. If it hurts, make a sound like a mewling kitten or simply say ‘oww’ in a hurt voice and put your hand over the area.

This will help your cat to understand when its claws are digging in too much and the behavior should lessen and go away over time.

How can you prevent your cat from squeezing your hand if it hurts?

Aside from mewling or saying ‘oww’, if your cat’s squeezing is painful then you can get their attention by saying ‘no’ and putting your hand lightly on your cat’s paws. If you are petting them, stop petting at this time until the squeezing stops.

Cats sometimes simply don’t realize that they are using too much pressure. This is especially true with cats that were weaned way too early, as they learn about how much biting and clawing is appropriate through play with their siblings at a young age.

Just be patient and keep letting your cat know when it hurts. Once they understand, then the behavior should definitely lessen.

Does your cat know to hold your hand when you are stressed?

Some cats do seem to do this in times of stress and it’s quite possible that your cat has recognized changes in your behavior or possibly even in your scent – cats have much sharper olfactory senses than humans! That said, your behavior will probably be the biggest indicator as your cat has had a lot of time to observe you and your daily routine.

Do cats feel safe when they squeeze your hand?

A person touching a cat's paw.

A person touching a cat’s paw.

This will depend on the context of when this behavior is occurring. If your cat simply squeezes at your hand out of the blue, it probably means that they want affection. If you are already petting them or they are sitting on top of you and the squeeze is sudden and ‘locked’ into place by extended claws, then your cat may feel a little unsafe from your movements.

This doesn’t mean that your cat thinks that you are going to hurt them on purpose, rather that they want you to stay still because they are worried that you might move suddenly and send them flying or simply cause them to have to get up and get comfortable again.

In a nutshell, with affectionate squeezing your cat feels completely safe, while ‘warning’ squeezing means that your cat is feeling something more along the lines of ‘safe, but suspicious’.

Why does my cat grab my hand with its claws?

Cats, especially younger ones, will do this quite often. Remember, your cat is adorable, but they are still a predator. Those claws are designed for efficient slashing, tearing, and grabbing! Sometimes a cat can get overexcited from play and forget to retract its claws.

One way to minimize this is to keep yourself from pulling back too quickly. Cats notice motion, especially fast, darting motions, and instinctively their claws come out as they try to intercept whatever is moving so fast in front of them.

So, don’t pull away so quickly and when your cat does grab your hand with their claws, move that hand closer to them and say ‘no’ firmly, immediately stopping play. Once your cat realizes that claws can quickly put an end to playtime, then they will try to keep them retracted in the future.

Why does my cat lay next to me and put its paws on me?

When your cat lays next to you and puts a paw on you, then this is much like getting a hug. Your cat is showing affection and also that they trust you. Your cat also has scent glands in its paws, so this ‘marks’ you a little in the process as well.

While ‘nudging’ is their most effective means of giving you their scents, due to scent glands in your cat’s forehead, cheeks, lips, and chin, touching with the paw also transfers some of the cat’s scents to you and this makes them feel more comfortable.

It also tells other animals that you are off-limits, so it’s a definite sign that your cat really loves you!

How do you tell if a cat is angry or playing?

When your cat is angry with you then there are a few signs that can manifest and you want to be aware of them. While it might be something obvious, like growling or a hiss, more often your cat’s body language is going to tell you everything that you need to know.

When a cat is angry or irritated with you, its ears tend to go back, and you should pay attention to your cat’s tail. If the hair seems to be standing up then they are frightened or angry and if it’s swishing back and forth then this is a sign that your cat is agitated.

Your cat’s eyes may have constricted pupils but don’t rely on this alone, as their pupils sometimes constrict when they are feeling content. If you see it with the other signs that we’ve mentioned, however, then it’s best to calm your cat by stopping play or petting immediately and giving them a little space to calm down.

Apart from squeezing, what other ways do cats show love?

Cats have a few different ways of showing their affection besides squeezing. Rubbing their faces against you is a big one, as the scent glands there allow them to effectively mark you while getting a nice rub or scratch in the bargain.

Sitting next to you and purring are fairly obvious signs of affection, but you’ll also sometimes see a cute one when you get home from work. If your cat is running up you with its tail up and twitching the tip of its tail then this is yet another indicator that your cat loves you very much.

Kneading and licking are some other common ways that your cat may show their affection for you and if your cat brings in a dead mouse or a bird, then you are definitely popular with them. Enough so that they are trying to teach you about hunting!

Lindsey Browlingdon