Has your cat ever rubbed or butted heads with you? This is the ultimate sign of affection but it’s also a exceptional form or communication! Rubbing and bunting are ways to spread pheremones, the cat's ultimate arsenal of non-verbal messages. So the next time you feel your feline friend brush up against your leg, settle in for cuddle time - you may find yourself purring along!
Has your cat ever rubbed or butted heads with you? This is the ultimate sign of affection but it’s also a exceptional form or communication!
Cats produce substances called pheromones which are a form of ‘Chemical Communication’. These pheromones are unique to each cat and are akin to human fingerprints. When they are left on an anything, it serves as a calling card of sorts.
These pheromones are secreted from kitty’s glands located on the forehead, lips, front paws and the flanks on their rears. These pheromones are wide and varied and send diverse signals - the most common being to provide information about the cat’s reproductive status and to whether or not they are looking for a mate. Others are used mark objects and territory – warding off other felines. Some signal comfort and familiarity.
When a cat rubs his head or the side of his chin against you, the furniture, or any object, he is actually depositing his pheromones or scent on them as part of territorial marking. This is reassuring to the cat and non-offensive to humans. Cats can tell how long ago a scent was left and how much attention they need to pay to the warning. Not only does it leave the identity of the cat (if familiar), it tells other felines when he was there, which direction he was headed, and even what kind of mood he was in. When we stroke our cats, or they rub up against our legs, we pick up these scents, too. That gives us a ‘group scent’ identification.
Cats will also use scent contact to communicate urgency, from gentle reminders of feeding time or signaling that their litter box needs changing, or that they want a treat, to a demanding insistent rub. If you have more than one cat, you may notice them butting heads from time to time or rubbing their faces against each other. Only cats entirely comfortable with each other will engage in this type of mutual head butting (so-called bunting). The physical contact of head rubbing creates a potpourri of shared scents that help cats to feel more comfortable with each other and more secure in their home territory. Bunting may also be a signal of social rank.
When a cat rubs his face on his owner, this is a form of marking his territory. But most of all, it is signaling to the owner that a cat is happy with the owner. Usually when a cat is rubbing or bunting his face on his owner, he is happy, purring, and seems content. An owner should feel honored when this happens, as the cat is claiming him as his own and showing affection for all that the owner does for him.
Cats get a reputation as being aloof partly because of the reputation itself. Cats are incredibly loving and affectionate animals but they behave in the stereotypical manner when deprived of attention. Simply put: If cats are denied love, they want it less. If cats are smothered in love, they demand it more. So the next time you feel your feline friend brush up against your leg, settle in for cuddle time - you may find yourself purring along!