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My cats love greeting me when I come back home, but only one of them walks up to me, rubs his face against my leg, and then proceeds to just stand there on my foot and stare at me.
I understand that cats love to pique our curiosity with their strange behaviors and I also know that they can be picky about where they choose to hang out, so naturally, this spot choice makes me wonder.
Why does my cat stand on my foot? Your cat might stand on your foot seeking closeness, assert their ownership over you, show affection, or get your attention. Some cats will wait for you to move so they can attack your feet, and initiate play.
If you want to know more about why your kitty chooses such an inconvenient spot to stand on like your feet, then you’ve come to the right place!
Why Does My Cat Stand On My Foot?
Comfort might be the number one priority of every cat, but some of them still end up sleeping and standing in odd places that seem nothing but comfortable, including our feet. So, what goes on in their mind when they do it?
Reason 1: To Show You Affection
If you’re a cat owner you must have heard people calling cats unemotional or unaffectionate at least once. I know I have and while I know that it can’t be further than the truth Dr. Vitale an animal behaviorist can also scientifically back me up.
She and her colleagues have found that the majority of cats prefer interacting with a person over food or play and that they can form attachments to their owners. So, while standing on your foot might seem like strange behavior to you, it could be part of their love language.
You see when you’re standing, your feet are the only part of you that’s physically closest to your cat. If your kitty is rubbing their face against you while standing on your feet, then it’s their way of showing you affection and seeking it in return.
If you’re in a hurry I’d suggest that you don’t simply walk away but take a moment to slow blink to your kitty and see if they return the gesture. This kind of eye contact is a nice way to acknowledge each other and reaffirm your bond. Then again if you have time show them some love, by petting them.
When you notice your kitty sticking closer to you than usual then it can be a good indication that they want displays of affection. Some cats will stand on your feet when you’re putting on your shoes, or even when you’re on the toilet!
Reason 2: To Get Your Attention
Your cat might want to exchange pleasantries with you when they’re standing on your foot, but they might also be asking you for something. For example, if your kitty is used to being picked up when they’re close to your feet then standing on them will initiate this interaction.
My cats will usually walk around me meowing, they might even stand still over my foot and intentionally purr to get treats or remind me that it’s dinnertime. Sometimes they will run towards their empty food bowls to get their point across even further!
Of course, cats don’t only think of food, they also are wild hunters at heart so standing on your foot is a great way to initiate play. If you try to walk away from them your cat might bat at you and then run away mewing playfully. If you’re wearing your trainers the laces can also trigger their predatory instincts.
The way our cats approach us to get our attention differs from cat to cat, some will simply meow, others will bring you their toys, and then again there are those that will sit on your foot. It’s not uncommon to also find your kitty flop down in front of the feet they were standing on just a second ago, asking for some good old belly rubs.
Each kitty has different needs and all you have to do is listen, and one way they can make you listen is by choosing to stand on your foot.
Reason 3: To Keep You There
It may seem like a stretch but stepping on your foot could be your kitty’s way of asking you to stay put. When they’re standing on your foot, they may see it as an anchor to let you know what they want, especially if you haven’t been paying them attention.
If you’re preoccupied with different tasks and running around the house, they might be waiting for you to stop so they can sit on your foot and keep you there. It’s also possible that your kitty doesn’t want you to leave, so they’ll sit on your feet while you try to tie your shoelaces.
They might even initiate some form of play, or they will reach up to you with their paws to ask for cuddles instead of seeing you leave for work. Basically, sabotaging your career so you can be a stay-at-home cat parent!
Reason 4: For Comfort And Warmth
Let others believe what they want to believe, but cat parents know that their furry friends do enjoy spending time with their human caretakers. Part of the comfort we offer them is the sense of security, our familiar smell, and our body heat.
These things provide them with reassurance and a nice way to maintain their body temperature. A cat’s normal body temperature is 101.0 to 102.5°F (38.3 to 39.2°C), while the normal human body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C), which is why cats always look for the warmest spot in the house.
If your kitty doesn’t have access to your lap because you’re standing, they might choose to keep their paws warm by standing on your feet, especially if you’re wearing fluffy sleepers. Cats can also stand next to you or on your feet when they feel scared, and they know that you’ll protect them from a possible threat, like a guest, a strange noise, or another pet.
Cats are also capable of forming secure and insecure attachments with their humans. Research by the OSU showed that “cats with an insecure attachment show signs of stress such as twitching their tail and licking their lips, and either stay away from the person (avoidance) or cling to them by jumping in their lap and not moving (ambivalence).”
While the majority of cats form secure attachments if your kitty is constantly standing or sitting on your feet from the moment you return home then they might need you to validate their insecurities.
Reason 5: It’s The Smell
Cats rely on smells and their scent to feel comfortable in their environment and around their human for that matter. That’s why they rub their faces against our own, to exchange scents and show us that we’re part of their pack.
Cats have scent glands on their paws, and they use them to mark the things they love or “own”. So, standing on your foot might be another way for your feline companion to mark you. They might also start kneading (also known as making muffins) the spot they’re standing on, and if it’s your bare foot then “ouch!”
This might be a more common behavior when you return home. Along with some leg rubbing your kitty’s standing on your foot and kneading could be their way of greeting you. They could also be trying to smell the new scent you brought with you, and reclaim you, especially if you were in contact with another pet.
Is It Normal For Cats To Sit On My Foot?
Unless your kitty is sitting on your foot looking all distressed, or angry then it is completely normal behavior. Sure, it might seem a bit odd that of all the places they decided to lay on your feet, but you should take it as a compliment.
Being close to you means that your kitty feels safe in your presence. Most likely you don’t need to worry too much if your cat has picked up the habit of sitting or lying on your feet unless it’s something that leads to unwanted behaviors like licking or biting your toes.
Why Does My Cat Walk On My Feet?
The reasons why your kitty might choose to walk on your feet can be the same if they were to stand on them. The only difference is that this gesture is less clingy. You might be simply in their way when they’re passing by, or you’ve walked right in front of them in which case if you trip and fall, your kitty will think that it was your fault either way.
While your cat might walk on your feet because they don’t see them as a major obstacle and simply a passing point, it could be a gesture of acknowledgment as they go about their day. For a new cat, it might be their first attempt to come close to you, and if your feline friend has been with you for long enough it could be their way of getting your attention.
Why Does My Cat Place One Paw On My Foot?
A cat that’s standing by your feet may lightly place their paw on one of your feet. You can interpret it as a sign of closeness, and if they’re patting you then it’s a way to get your attention off the screen.
My cats will usually touch my feet with their paw to let me know that they want cuddles. So, I of course oblige and make room for them to jump on my lap. Sometimes, their paw on my foot moves in a playful manner and the moment I look down they run towards their toys, asking for a play session.
Basically, having a kitty put their paw on your foot is like having a friend tap you on the shoulder. The only difference is that after that it’s your job to figure out what that tap was for.
Why Does My Cat Stand On My Foot And Then Attacks Me?
While finding your cat sitting on your feet can be odd, swatting at your feet is definitely a common enough occurrence and a human complaint. This could be another way of getting you to notice them, or they could be acting out, but more often than not, they do it because they want to play.
When a cat exhibits such behavior it’s important to observe their overall body language. According to veterinarians “cats demonstrating fear aggression may flatten their ears against their heads, hiss, bare their teeth, or crouch low to the ground with their tail tucked under their body, and their fur may stand on end.”
If that doesn’t sound like your cat then they might be trying to engage in what is also known as play aggression. This type of behavior is usually more common in kittens that are trying to explore the world around them. If you’ve adopted a kitten or a young cat your moving feet or hands can be quite amusing.
Not this kitten though, this cute creature could never attack any feet, he simply sits on them!
Jokes aside, RSPCA explains that “the cat often hides behind some furniture and waits until a person walks by, and then dashes out and attacks the person’s ankles.” But this doesn’t mean this can’t happen when they’re standing on your foot.
They might be used to attacking or playing with your feet and all they’re waiting for is for you to start walking and the game begins! If this sounds familiar then you shouldn’t ignore this behavior, and instead, work on redirecting it.
Should I Take My Foot Away?
You certainly can, but make sure to check on your cat’s needs. Perhaps their food bowl is empty, or their litter box needs cleaning. Definitely give your kitty some love if that’s what they’re asking before moving away.
If you find your furry buddy being too clingy and you’d want them to embrace a more independent lifestyle then you need to spend more quality time with them. Make sure your schedule includes playtime and cuddles. Also make sure they have a cat-friendly environment, with a treehouse preferably looking out to a window, a few cat-safe toys lying around, perhaps some pet grass, and if you can afford it or have a space for it a cattio.
While I let my cats sit on my foot, they also have a tendency to see my foot as a plaything once I move it from under them, so I always proceed with caution! If your kitty is also a foot attacker, then the best way to reduce this behavior is by removing yourself from the situation.
You can also use a toy to help your kitty focus on something other than your feet. My personal favorite toy is the Rainbow Cat Charmer that you can find on Amazon. It’s a perfect distraction for both of my cats, whenever they act out or simply want to play.
It’s important to note that leaving your kitty alone with a toy can take away some of the excitement and there’s a risk that they’ll hurt themselves. That’s why let them enjoy their toys in your presence unless you’re absolutely sure large and safe enough for them to play with while you’re away at work. Aside from toys, don’t forget to use treats when they do choose the toy over your foot, and never shout or scold your kitty, because you only risk having the opposite effect, and damaging your beautiful bond!
While there are many probable reasons as to why our kitties love to stand on our feet, some of them we may never be able to fathom. If we spoke their “meow” language or if we could read their minds, we could easily solve this mystery, but not all is lost.
Despite the uncertainty, we can observe our own cats and let their overall behavior guide us to the right answer, and if we’re still not sure then treats are the way to go!
How about you, do you know why your cat keeps choosing your feet as a resting spot?