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My Cat Is Holding Their Paw Up When Sitting: Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Sleeping cat with paw on face

My Cat Is Holding Their Paw Up When Sitting: Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Our kitties are constantly warming our hearts with their hilarious antics. It seems they’re always making a strange noise or learning new skills that make you shake your head. If you’ve noticed that your cat sometimes lifts their paw out of seemingly nowhere, you might wonder why they do it.

So what gives? You need help to relate this action with meaning, which only some people talk about. Here we’re going to go over a few possibilities, but it’s most likely signaling anticipation.

divider-catclaw1 Body Language Matters

Black and white cat pawing at the window
Image Credit: DenisAgati, Pixabay

When you see your cat with their paw up, are their eyes wide? Your cat is likely waiting for something, recognition of some kind. Think of it as a state of pause. They quietly sit, observing their surroundings, and lifting their paw up in anticipation.

It could be to see if you notice, or maybe it’s to know if you will hand them the treats on the counter. For whatever reason, they are waiting to grab your attention for whatever they may need. Some cats raise their paws up and wave at you to get your attention. This might throw out some more cues we can look at, too.

Where one cat might feel eager for the next few moments to unfold, another may guard an injury this way. To know exactly why your cat is holding up their paw, it’s essential to consider other factors—especially if you think there might be a problem.

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Paw Lifting Is Usually Totally Normal

In most cases, you’ll probably know a little about how they feel because of their behavior. If you rattled a bag or shook your keys, they could be wild-eyed and waiting for you to make your next move. You might also notice a paw up during window sitting sessions as they view the outdoors.

You can think of this behavior as having a few meanings—all relating to curiosity, anticipation, eagerness, and potential excitement. Your cat sees something they are familiar with, inquisitive about, or knowledgeable of and they are just watching for the next step.

Play Could be Afoot

This could be the start of a whole romping session if it sets their energy on fire enough. So, watch out if you are doing something to rouse the crazy claws. This is a pretty big precursor to possible pouncing. If your cat has locked in on a victim, they might be totally still with one paw up until they are ready to act.

On the Negative Side

Even though this is a mostly positive thing, it has its dark side. If your cat suddenly freezes and puts a paw up, it could signal caution. They heard, saw, smelled, or otherwise detected a potential threat (or maybe even a ghost in the room, if you want to get creative with explanations!)

Either way, your kitty might be a little spooked—or at least they’re trying to pinpoint what could be spooky if they have the correct suspicions.

close up of a cat paw
Image Credit: patthamapong, Shutterstock


When Is Paw Lifting Abnormal?

If your cat keeps holding up the same paw, again and again, it might be due to injury. Perhaps they have a thorn stuck in their foot, a splinter, a skin infection, or some other abrasion that makes putting weight on their paws difficult.

If your cat does it a lot with no provocation, even when they’re fully resting, it might be time to inspect. If your cat will allow you, gently look over their paw to ensure there’s nothing wrong. If there’s nothing that you can visibly see, look for other cues.

Are they putting weight on their paw? If they tend to favor their other legs more, there might be an internal injury that you can’t see. Perhaps your cat got their paw stuck in a drawer, door, or anywhere. Or maybe they jumped and landed on it incorrectly.

The possibility of what could cause injury to a paw is endless. It just depends on what their surroundings are like and what in their environment caused the issue. If this goes on for a while with no improvement or seems to get worse, it’s time to get them into the vet for a checkup.

Your vet can examine the foot to correct whatever situation might be happening. This could require additional testing like X-rays or other imaging, to determine what is wrong and fix it accordingly.

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So, now you know that that paw up is likely just a communication of curiosity. They want to see what goodies you got from all those crinkly bags of groceries. Of course, sometimes, it can signal a pause to observe potential predators or prey.

And naturally, sometimes it could mean your kitty is a little hurt and could use some remedying. Just keep up with visual cues, so you know if there’s any cause for concern.

Featured Image Credit: Elias Jara, Pexels

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