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Why do cats rub their face on things?

If you have a cat, you probably know by heart many of their activities because cats are habit animals and are highly routine and repetitive. We have often seen them doing strange things, but because they do them so often, they have become commonplace, and we don’t even worry about it. Most of the time, we don’t even question why cats do particular stuff. They can be a little strange anyway. Although one common question is, “why do cats rub their face on things?

One of the everyday habits of my cat is to rub her face against everything, and I thought it was because she wanted some cuddles until I saw that she also did it with my dogs. I found this very curious, so I did some research, and this is what I found.

First things first. What is bunting? (rubbing their face on things)

The first thing to know is that this action of rubbing their face against something is so widespread that there is even a word for it: bunting!

It is normal and harmless for a cat to rub its face or other parts of its body against objects, people, and even other animals. The primary purpose is to spread its pheromones and transfer them to as many objects as possible, and I’ll tell you why, but first, let’s talk about pheromones.

Pheromones are chemical substances secreted by all animals. Although they are odorless and invisible, they cause a behavioral change in those who perceive them, in this case, other cats. Through this hormone, the cat receives information from its environment. For example, it can know if there are other cats around it, and it can learn their age, maturity, and sexual stage in which they are. They can even know exactly how long ago another cat they passed through a particular place.

At the same time, pheromones serve as a kind of identification tag since if another cat senses your cat’s pheromones, for example, on a ball, it will know that it belongs to your cat and, therefore, can no longer claim the toy as its own.

And if you’re wondering how he does it, it’s straightforward. Cats have scent glands all over their bodies. They concentrate on the paws, the tail area, and the face, and they need to rub against something to share their scent.

Why does my cat rub her face on everything? 5 common reasons

While there might be other reasons your cat rubs his face on things, here are five of the most common causes, including their meaning and what you can do about it.

1. To mark territory

Perhaps the main reason for this is that cats are very territorial and instinctively mark everything in their path to claim it as their own. The good news is that, unlike dogs, your cat will not mark with urine but with its scent.

why do cats rub their face on things -mark territory

If you notice your cat rubbing his head against your legs, he is depositing his scent on you to let other cats know that you belong to him. When a cat notices another cat’s pheromones, he usually moves away because he understands the message.

2. To show affection

Although many people think cats are cold and indifferent, we know better. Cats are very affectionate, and some are even incredibly friendly with people and other pets. One of the ways these little furballs show their love and closeness is by rubbing their head against their favorite human or puppy, letting them know through the contact that they trust them completely.

By rubbing their head against you, they are transferring their pheromones to you, but they are also creating a new scent by combining theirs with yours. How romantic, right? They are building a family aroma.

3. To achieve familiarity

Cats are nervous and easily frightened. Some of the things that stress them the most are changes and the unknown. When a cat arrives at a new place, it causes anxiety because it is a fresh smell (here are some smells cats hate). For this reason, you will see her rubbing against everything almost frantically because she feels the need to mark with her scent. This way, she gets a sense of familiarity or home with the new place or object, making her feel much more comfortable and relaxed.

why do cats rub their face on things - familiarity

4. To get attention

Let’s not forget that cats are experts at getting attention and achieving what they want, this could always be their goal in almost any action they perform, and this is no exception.

It is doubtful that you can ignore a cat rubbing its head against you because you feel and see it. It is looking for something. Chances are your cat wants some love, a few cuddles, or even wants you to play with her for a while.

5. To greet

Cats are friendly and, like dogs, they are also happy when you come back home, so one way to show their joy is to greet you with a good rub against your legs in exchange for a pat on the head.

Many times cats tend to rub their heads on the newcomers, even if they don’t know them, and this is not only to say hello but also to get some information about the new person, for example, if they have cats.

why does my cat rub his face on everything - greet

Why do cats rub their face on things? Final thoughts

Bunting is an incredible tool our cats use to achieve many goals; among them, perhaps the most important is showing their love and creating bonds with us. For example, that mixture of scents we can’t smell, but for them, it is crucial.

The sense of smell is vital for a cat. Although the word mark sounds territorial and perhaps selfish, cats depend on their pheromones. To return home, these brilliant buddies can follow the trail of pheromones that their paws leave printed on the floor. Impressive, right?

Now that you know cats rubbing their face on everything is perfectly normal tell us your best anecdotes – we’ll read you in the comments!

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