Why Do Cats Headbutt You? Is It Love Or Attention?

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Why do cats headbutt you, you ask? Headbutting from your cat is a sign of affection or greeting and recognizing that you are part of his group. He needs to put his scent onto you, to make it clear that you are part of his group. It is security for him. He needs to mark his territory.

A cat headbutt can happen at any time of the day and is always a nice surprise.

cats head butting each other
Cats headbutting each other!

You will often see cats that live together in a group head bunting or headbutting each other, which indicates that there is trust within the group. Even big cats in the cat kingdom display this sort of behavior.

If you watched Tiger King (didn’t everyone?) the big cats did headbutt each other, so it is not just our domestic cats that display this behavior.

If you also have a pet dog, your kitty cat may even try head butting the dog. This just makes the dog a bit confused.

cat headbunting a dog
Keep calm and say nothing! Less trouble that way!

The Cat Is Marking His Territory When headbutting

All animals mark their territory in some way. Cats have a sophisticated sense of smell, about 200 times stronger than ours. This strong sense of smell forms an integral part of the way in which cats deal with the world about them.

Cats have scent glands on their bodies and they use them to leave their mark or pheromones on us and objects, for example pieces of furniture or even walls.

Why do cats headbutt you, is because when he gives you a head butt, he is marking his territory and creating a sense of familiarity and safety.

The scent glands of the cat are activated in the head area that release pheromones which are then transferred to your skin and clothing. He is also showing you lots of loving affection at the same time.

Marking territory with scent is always obvious when visiting another household that has a cat. The new cat will usually engage in some sniffing and checking out the smell associated with you.

Likewise on your return home, your cat will be most interested in the smell you have brought home with you.

Should I Headbutt My Cat?

Cat headbutting is a form of affection in terms of marking territory from the cat but what about in reverse?

Is it safe or okay for you to headbutt your cat? Often the cat will lower its head and turn it slightly when head butting and it is then that we respond by giving the cat tickle or rub on the chin area or top of the head.

The cat becomes used to that stimulus and it is repeated often. We are naturally just responding in an affectionate way, to the attention from the cat.

If you feel the need to headbutt your cat, this would be the best time. If it feels as though it comes naturally the best advice would to do it gently.

Don’t force it in any way and see how the cat responds. It is another way of communicating with your cat and if you get a favourable reaction from giving a cat headbutt that will strengthen the bond.

A headbutt is playful, there is no strength attached.

This is a great video which shows the meaning of a cat head butt (also called head bunting and head bumping). The actions speak for themselves. This is a joyful short video guaranteed to bring out the awwhs.

For those wondering about headbutting the cat, the video shows that it does work.

Video Showing Headbutting!

Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me In The Morning?

Cats headbutt at any time of the day however many cats are morning headbutters and love to wake their owners with some playful cat headbutts, often accompanied by some playful purring thrown in for good measure. Your cat may reach out his paw to you also.

It is usually enough to arouse cat owners to get going for the day with cat related duties such as providing food.

why do cats headbutt you
That feels so good and everyone knows – I have been here!

Why Do Cats Rub The Side Of Their Faces On Things?

Similar to head butting by a cat but a little different is chinning. Chinning is when cats run the sides of their face or jowls along objects.

When your kitty rubs the side of his face along objects, or items like pieces of furniture and in our case my shoes while I am wearing them, he leaves a scent behind.

As previously mentioned, cats have scent glands in their body and multiple glands in the head area. This is often referred to as chinning and when kitty is chinning he is using the scent glands along his lips and chin.

What he is doing is leaving his scent behind. The scent glands release pheromones, this scent marks his territory and makes him feel secure. It feels and smells like home.

Observe Your Cat Chinning And Head Butting

Observe your cat to see where he likes to chin and when he headbutts. Sometimes we are so accustomed to seeing it that it does not really register.

Our kitty definitely has favorite spots that he has claimed for rubbing the side of his face, one being the edge of a particular kitchen cabinet, a place that he frequently passes.

He also repeatedly rubs the side of his face along any shoes I am wearing, while I am sitting with legs crossed – just at the right height for kitty.

Giving kitty a head scratch
All kitties like a head scratch

Giving Kitty A Head Scratch

Cats love having a head scratch. When our kitty gets a scratch in the jowls area, he is in immediate heaven. Where the jaw connects to the chin is a favorite spot for kitty and he will jut his chin out to ask for more.

Cats also loves a gentle scratch between the ears on the top of the head, a gentle scratch. It’s not an area that kitty can easily groom himself although cats do use their front paws to groom this area.

Use the cues your kitty gives you as to whether he wants more. He may just decide to leave anyway.

What about your cat kneading you? It is not quite the same as headbutting but falls into the same arena as the cat interacting with you. Do you like it or is it annoying?

What Is The Difference Between Head Bunting And Head Pressing?

Cat headbutting is always gentle even if sometimes quite firm. It is not aggressive. On the other hand, If your cat is pressing his head into a wall or any other inanimate surface with some force, for no reason you can discern or it looks unnatural, it is definitely time to go the the vet for testing and diagnosis.

Head pressing is not followed by the wipe along the chin or turn of head associated with head bunting. It may also be accompanied by excessive meowing and strange noises. This would not be usual behavior and if your hunch is that something is wrong it is always wise to seek the advice of a professional.

You may also like to read…

Kill two birds with one stone. Give your cat a relaxing massage with a cat grooming glove and get rid of cat hair at the same time.

Do you randomly pet your cat without really thinking about what you are doing? Discover some new techniques to pet your cat.

cats reading the newspaper
Why do cats headbutt you, you ask? Headbutting is our favorite way to say ‘hello’ and catch up on the goss!

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