What’s Up With Cat Slaps? 

(Last Updated On: September 6, 2022)

If you own a cat or are a connoisseur of internet cat videos (not mutually exclusive), you’re probably familiar with cat slaps. They’re pretty funny, especially when you’re watching and don’t have to deal with the consequences of whatever they happen to knock over or annoy in the meantime. Depending on the feline, there might not always be a rhyme or reason to cat slaps. Some just kind of… Hit everything all the time. So what’s up with cat slaps?

Further Reading: Why Do Cats Knock Things Over All the Time?

Why Are They Slapping Each Other

Let’s start with cats going at each other. Cats will slap at each other when they just want to play. Sounds easy, time to move on.

Except the line between playing and overly pent-up predatory instinct gets kind of blurry. Most play behavior between cats (or between you and your cat) exercises their predatory instincts. Cats will stalk, swat, and bite each other for giggles. It’s the same with dogs; who enjoy squeaking toys because they sound like dying animals. Anyway, you can probably tell if cats are play-fighting or fighting fighting. You also know the switch between picking a fight and not doing that can be pretty quick–particularly enthused cats might just have too much pent-up hunting instinct to release. 

Cats also just slap each other when they’re in real fights (who would have thought play-fights were practice for real fights?). They might also just slap at others because they’re cranky and want you to go away. Especially if they’re sick. 

They’re Investigating

Like humans, cats are very visual creatures. They also use their paws like hands, they’re really sensitive. Heck, the temperature sensitivity of cat paw pads might rival the temperature sensitivity to primates like us.

Using their paws as their primary means of investigating the world, cats will slap at things to make sure it’s a threat or not. They’ll keep going until they figure out what it is they’re slapping–which is why they might go at it for a while. 

Sometimes cats slap at things to knock them over–mostly because it gets our attention. On that note, that’s like the big reason a cat will slap at you. They’re bored and want to play. Normally if they slap at you while you walk by they’re also exercising pouncing behavior (or they’re trying to assert dominance). It’s like your cat’s way of telling you they could have killed you. But they chose not to.


If you’re not sure about the difference between cats and dogs, you could try slapping at them here.



About Kyler 728 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.