by Alexander Thompson
Aug 17, 2022
2 minute read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Is a Cat Headbutt?
- What Makes a Cat Headbutt?
- In Conclusion
Cat headbutts are not strange to most cat parents. Also called head bunts, this action is hardly random in cats.
What Is a Cat Headbutt?
A cat headbutts by tapping her head against you while rubbing her cheeks along your nearest body part. Perhaps this is not the definition you expect, but it is as simple as that. It is also common to see cats headbutt furniture, chairs, walls, and other random objects.
What Makes a Cat Headbutt?
The first inference you can make from a cat that headbutts is that she is contented. The reassuring and calming effect of cats’ facial pheromones is responsible for this. Other relaxed behaviors often associated with cat headbutting include partially closed eyes, purring, and flipping over.
Cats also headbutt people to feel them out or sniff them. Other possible reasons include:
Cats may use the glands in their cheek to mark anything they consider theirs. These may include familiar objects like a cat tree, furniture, or walls. They rub their face and headbutt these items to mark and claim them as their territories.
It is similar to a cat creating a safe space by personalizing her environment. This is not the same as the common territorial challenge they make to other cats by urine spraying or marking.
Developing a Colony Scent
While we perceive cats as solitary creatures, they have a clear social side. When cats headbutt you, it may be their way of creating a social bond with you. Cats in a single colony may also headbutt each other to mix their scents and develop one strong smell, which they eventually spread to every cat in that colony. This becomes the colony scent.
Cats also want to mark familiar people and things around the house, and headbutting is one of the ways they do this. So, if your cat headbutts someone or something regularly, they have accepted them into their inner circle.
When a cat marks you, she is bonding and connecting with you through her scent. Cats’ heightened sense of smell means they communicate primarily with their environment through scents. While these scents are undetectable to humans, your cats feel reassured when you smell like them.
Headbutting in cats indicates they are happy, relaxed, and purring on their own and enjoying it. Some cats enjoy this more than others, especially when it amplifies the scent of their pheromones more.
So, if you see your cat rubbing her face on something on her own, it might just be her way of self-soothing to regulate their emotions. Another means of emotional regulation in cats is kneading with paws.
Cats may also headbutt and mark you with their pheromones when they are craving your attention. Considering how much they love to be scratched on the head and under their chin, headbutting you may just be their way of asking you to give them some good scratches and rubs.
If you play along by showering your cat with attention each time she headbutts you, it will encourage them to do it more frequently. This will strengthen the bond you both share, and your cat will increasingly see headbutting as a good way of seeking your attention to feel good.
Observing a New Person
If cats find themselves in a new environment or the midst of new people, they may headbutt the people around to check them out. You should take it slow and feel the cat out slowly when this happens. For instance, offer her your head for a sniff and see how she reacts. If she is keen on another headbutt, go for another light one. But if she is not interested, try some head scratches after a gentle hand sniff.
Your cat will not headbutt you every time. Some cats may not headbutt you at all. This does not mean they are not affectionate or uninterested in bonding. All you have to do is look out for other ways they show their love and affection towards you.
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