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Why Do Cats Headbutt? 5 Interesting Reasons

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If you are a cat owner, there are going to be a number of things which they might do, and such things are not just cute, but they raise your curiosity level. One such adorable thing is touching their heads with others! Why do they do that? Is it a wrestling move?

While some people say that if your feline is headbutting you, you are lucky, on the other hand, some people say that when a cat is head pressing, it’s not good! Confusing right? Well, let’s find out the difference between them, as well as why do cats headbutt!

Why do cats headbutt?

why do cats headbutt

What Is a Cat Headbutting?

Why do cats headbutt, and what is a cat headbutting? When your cat comes to you instead of sitting in your lap or rubbing against you, which is so far their natural behavior.

But when they butt their heads on your cheeks, arms, legs, or whichever part is accessible, it is known as headbutting and also as head bunting.

what is a cat head butting

Well, headbutting is usually a representation of love and affection, which means that your cat is happy to see you, and she wants to make sure that you know it! A cat rubs their scent glands against another object, releasing its scent onto a new or any surface.

1. Leave Marks on Objects, Including You!

A well-known fact about cats is that they can smell 14 times stronger and more than humans. In the same way, they can give their scent to objects or to humans as they have different scent glands on the parts of their bodies like outer ear flaps, temples, cheeks, corners of the mouth, and under the jaw.

leave marks on object including you

So when your cat feels like this, “the human is mine and I better mark him with my scent by rubbing and leaving the pheromones on him, so that no other cats could lure them into their cuteness and snatch my human away from me!”

In other words, they mark their territory.

That’s why do cats headbutt!

2. When Cats Need Attention

Sometimes the reason, why does cat headbutts is also when they are in absolute need of attention. For instance, you have been at work for the whole day, or you are just back from a long trip, your cat comes running towards you, and showers all the pending love with headbutts, cuddles, purring, etc.

when cats need attention

Also, your cat might headbutt you, when she needs something, like if she’s feeling hungry or bored. You can check your cat’s food or water bowl if that’s emptier than it can be, chances it’s a call for food.

3. Feeling of Familiarity

As we discussed earlier, cats can smell 14 times stronger and greater than humans, according to popular belief.

They have different smell glands on different regions of their bodies, such as the outer ear flaps, temples, cheeks, corners of the mouth, and under the jaw, and they may give their scent to things or humans in the same way.

feeling of familiarity

Now, this might sound weird to us, but it’s not the same for our cats, they feel wonderful about it. Cats can be super suspicious about anything that doesn’t smell familiar, and it could add to the feeling of anxiety.

So if your cat is headbutting to any new object or a new cat-friendly guest then, she’s trying to make them familiar.

4. Self-Soothing

What is a comfort behavior in cats has something to do with, why do cats headbutt! It’s a way for a stressed cat to seek touch reassurance.

Many cats begin this activity as a self-comforting ritual on the cat parent’s arm or ear lobe, blanket, cushion, and, in some cases on another welcoming cat, an indulgent dog.

self soothing

Headbutting is a learned behavior of cats from their kittenhood, who had no anxiety or early-weaning concerns.

5. Bonding with Other Pets

Cats have scent glands on their cheeks, jaw, and near their tail. When they rub those parts of their body on an object or another animal, they transfer a scent that only other cats can smell. As for humans, cats usually meows!

So if your cat is introduced correctly with other pets, she’s so likely to develop a very strong bond with them, using the cat language of affection which is headbutting, purring, rubbing against each other’s and with their tail.

bonding with other pets

If you have multiple cats then you must have encountered a scenario where cats headbutt other cats, it’s their way of showing affection and creating a bond with each other.

Well, cats are quite suspicious around dogs, but if your dog is easygoing then it’s possible for them to bond together in the same way.

A sign that they feel safe and bonded with each other.

My Cat Doesn’t Headbutt! Is It Problematic?

Now after knowing the answer behind why cats headbutt and how they express positive enforcement, love, and affection through headbutting, you can also headbutt them as a sign of affection.

Keep it gentle and slow, don’t push it too hard as it could hurt your delicate cat.

So basically, do all cats use the same way of headbutting for expressing their love and affection? The answer is no! And it’s completely normal, there’s nothing wrong with your cat.

Cats are very sensitive when it comes to their daily routine and environment. Even the slightest change noticed by your cat can make her feel anxious, and she would not behave in her usual way.

If you happen to be that kind of cat parent who has hardly witnessed this moment among you and your cat, then it could be one of the weaving issues of your cat when she was in her kittenhood. As it’s one of the learned behavior from their birth mom.

Difference between Head Pressing and Head Butting?

There is quite a big difference between why cats headbutt and why cats press their head against you or other objects. While headbutting is often related to positive feelings, head pressing is related to a negative feelings.

If you find your cat pressing her head on any surface such as a wall, or any other solid thing, it means something is wrong with your cat’s central nervous system.

If you are someone who is very careful in noticing your cat’s behavior, it won’t be that tough for you to find the difference between your cat’s headbutting and head pressing.

difference between head pressing and head butting

A cat will do head pressing for a longer duration than the headbutting, followed by strange behavior like your cat circling or seeming disoriented.

This behavior in cats is often a dangerous sign of several potentially serious health conditions, such as stroke! all you need to do is take your cat to the vet if you suspect her of doing this.


We hope that now you know very well why do cats headbutt! It won’t be wrong to say that it’s completely associated with the positive feeling of your cats! They either want your attention and love, or they are claiming their right by leaving scent.

However, you should be aware of the head pressing, as they are mostly related to serious health conditions. This behavior in cats is often a dangerous sign of several potentially serious health conditions, such as stroke! All you need to do is take your cat to the vet if you suspect her of doing this.


  1. Cat-human communication — Eastern Washington University
  2. How do pets show love — NC State University
  3. Cat communication — Wikipedia

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