Kittens learn by playing with their littermates' faces. Cats continue this playful behavior into adulthood.
Cats have scent glands in their paws. Pawing spreads their scent on you, marking you as theirs.
Pawing your face gets a reaction and interaction. It's a way to say "pet me!" or "feed me!"
Gentle pawing mimics their mother's nurturing licks. It's a social bonding gesture.
Face pawing activates instinctive kneading behavior, reminiscent of nursing kittens.
For cats, pawing things is linked to feelings of contentment. Your cat is saying "I love you!"
Your face has lots of interesting textures and smells to explore. Cats use their paws to investigate.