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Why Do Cats Rub Against Your Legs? (With Pictures)

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I’m a cat person and I love coming home and seeing my cat greet me with a rub against my legs or by placing their head in my hands. But sometimes, cat behavior can be confusing and difficult to understand.

Oftentimes, you might have noticed your cat rubbing against your leg, and you are asking yourself — why do cats rub against your legs? While this is generally a normal cat behavior, it is also considered a positive sign for many cat parents.

But there can be several reasons behind it, except for an affectionate gesture.

Keep reading to find out!

Why Do Cats Rub Against Your Legs

Why Cats Rub Against the Leg of Their Owners?

Cats rub against your legs to mark you as their territory. They do this by releasing a scent from glands near their tail called the scent glands. In fact, it is as if your cat is claiming ownership. During this, your cat transfers a unique scent to you, which she uses to mark her territory, just like how dogs claim territory by urinating there.

However, there can also be other reasons for this behavior. And seeking your attention can also be a reason behind this behavior, as with almost all cats.

Why Cats Rub Against the Leg of Their Owners

1. Pheromones – Spreading the Scent

One of the main reasons why your cat might be rubbing against your leg is because she is trying to spread her scent through physical contact. Yes, cats just want everything to smell like them, and it can be very important as they rely heavily on them.

Cat Spreading Pheromones Scent by Rubbing on Legs

Felines have scent glands found on their forehead, lips, chin, tail, paws, the sides of their head, and anal areas as well. And these glands are known to release a chemical substance called pheromones. These naturally occurring scent chemicals are released, and there can be several reasons for this. With one being the most common, pheromones are released as a form of communication to other cats.

Moreover, the pheromones can tell other cats everything, including the reproductive status of the rubbing cat to when the cat rubbed up against you.

2. She Is Trying to Communicate

One of the other reasons your cat is rubbing against your leg could be that she is trying to communicate something. Maybe she is trying to tell you that she is hungry, or maybe she wants to let you know that she wants something.

Cat Communicating With Owner by Rubbing on Legs

After feeding her, she might stop rubbing against your legs, meaning this was a sign of hunger. Another reason can be that your cat wants to talk to you. Apart from meowing, cats also prefer using body language to communicate with humans.

3. Showing Affection

Sometimes cats exhibit affection and gratitude by rubbing against your legs. It is common for pet cats to rub against their owner’s legs, this can be because your cat is feeling particularly good at that moment and wants to display some love to you.

Cat Showing Affection By Rubbing Owners Legs

However, rubbing still may not entirely be a sign of affection in the human sense of the world, but it certainly is in cat behaviors. This type of behavior can give cats a sense of security, and they enjoy doing it. Your cat might simply be greeting you just like how she greets any other cat.

4. She Is Trying to Own You

Cat owners usually see their cat rubbing against their leg as a sign of affection, but the real reason can be that your cat is trying to own you. Apart from scratching, rubbing (bunting) behavior is also known as one of the signs of scent marking in cats.

Cat Rubbing On Legs of Owner

When your cat marks you with her scent, this can also be an indication of comfort. And if you smell like your cat, it means you’re part of her pack. It means your cat can rest easy knowing that you identify with her. Likewise, feral cats who lived in groups tend to exhibit this behavior to show their affiliation with the group.

Do You Need to See Your Vet?

When you wake up from a nap and your cat starts rubbing against your leg, it isn’t because your cat is trying to annoy you. There can be many reasons behind your cat rubbing against your leg, maybe she’s just being affectionate, or she’s trying to say something, or it’s time for treats.

Should you See Vet If Cat Is Rubbing On Legs

Moreover, a cat rubbing against your leg can be considered as a cat’s way of marking you as a friend. However, many times this type of behavior is not welcomed. You can get a scratching post to redirect this behavior. Although cats are not the best pets to be trained easily, it is possible to redirect this behavior.

However, another reason she is rubbing against your leg could be because she is trying to show that she could be in pain due to some illness. Watch out for any signs of cat diseases, and if you see any symptoms, you should consult your vet right away.

Likewise, if a strange cat rubs against your leg, it might look like an invitation that she wants to be petted. However, the cat might just be saying hello or most likely wants information from you.

Bottom Line

So, why do cats rub against your legs? Well, you are not the only one whose cat does this. A cat rubbing against her owner’s leg is considered affectionate and a positive sign for many cat owners.

While scent marking is one of the common reasons for a cat to rub against her owner’s leg, other reasons can be, such as communication or showing affection.

However, if you think the behavior is due to some other reason, such as your cat is trying to show some illness, then seeking advice from your vet can be a good idea.


  1. Why do cats rub round their owners’ legs? — International Cat Care
  2. Cat Behavior: Why Do Cats Rub Against You? — PetMD
  3. 5 common cat behaviors explained — Metro East Humane Society

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