Head Butting – Why Do They Do That?

You might think that your cat head butts you to show affection. Well, yes and no. In a way, it is to show affection, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. The technical term is head bunting, and it has to do with rubbing their scent on you.

Head Bunting

The folks over at Cat Behavior Associates say:

The behavior that is often described by cat parents as heat butting is actually head bunting. Cats have scent glands all over their body and they use them to leave a scent mark on objects (and in this case, YOU). The bunting and rubbing are reserved for bonding, social, comforting and friendly purposes.

When your cat engages in head bunting or head rubbing, he is placing his scent there as a social and affectionate gesture. Cat-to-cat head bunting and allorubbing are reserved for cats who already have a familiar and friendly relationship. Cats typically display head bunting toward other cats, dog companions and humans.

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Bunting a LadyAllorubbing is another word for bunting. Cats will rub their heads, bodies and tails against each other, or against you, to distribute their scent. It also makes them feel secure, just as human touch does for us hoomans.

Cats have sebaceous glands in their ear canals, around their mouth, on their chin, and at the base of the tail. These glands secrete an oily, slightly waxy substance called sebum. Its primary purpose is to lubricate the skin and hair. However, it also leaves behind a scent that is individual to the cat. While undetected by humans, to the cat this scent ‘marks’ their territory – whether it be another cat, a human or an inanimate object. – The Examiner

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Cats Bunting

Cats that live together will rub on each other to make a sort of “group scent”, which shows that they are all part of the same group. Even though your cat may be head butting you to mark you with his or her scent, they only do it to people and animals that they feel affection towards. So it may be science, but it’s also love!

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