Why do cats rub their face on everything, from the couch to other animals and soft toys? There are several reasons for cats excessively rubbing its face on things, which can vary depending on the object and context.
From looking for attention to the scent glands on a cat’s head, your cat’s may vary due to gender, age, and overall personality. For example, if you’re asking, “why does my cat rub his face on everything” it helps to know that male cats tend to bunt far more than females.
Cats tend to rub their ears and foreheads on items quite high to them and then use the bottom of their cheeks to mark objects the same height as their heads. The chin and the throat then rub against lower items. Cats also have scent glands in their tails and their feet.
It’s something cats carry over from when they were in the wild as a way to mark territory. That said, it’s not the only reason our favorite feline friends rub on things.
Why does my cat rub her face on everything will be a question of the past after reading these eight interesting reasons.
Why do Cats Rub Their Faces on Everything? 8 Reasons Why
1. To Pick Up Scent
Sometimes cats rub their face on you to provide you with their scent and grab some of yours in the process. It can be a way to express affection, or it could just be to say hello. When cats live in groups, they often rub on each other to say hello. This is also the case if there is more than one cat in a family home.
Your cat may also be looking to merge two scents to create a new common aroma. Cats that live together often create a unique scent for their group. This can be one of the reasons why some cats fight after having been to the groomer or the vet.
The communal smell of the cat that has been outside the home may well have changed, and the other cats can react negatively. One way to avoid this is to use a brush or cloth on both cats regularly and brush or stroke the cat that has been de-scented before it heads home. You should try to do this whether you have a unique cat breed or a common tabby.
2. To Let Other Cats Know They Are Interested
Sexually mature cats mark their scent on objects to provide cues to cats of the opposite sex when they’re ready for mating (when they’re in estrus). Female cats spray urine containing sex pheromones and hormones when they are in heat, which attracts males and lets them know she’s ready for mating.
3. To Mark Their Territory and the Time of Their Visit
If a cat rubs its face on everything, it could be marking its territory. A cat rubbing its face on everything helps add its scent to the space and lets other cats know this territory is taken.
There’s more, though, as the strength of the odor helps other cats determine how recently the other cat has been in that territory. This can help them to avoid altercations. For example, if the aroma is strong, a cat will know to avoid that area, as another cat may very well still be there.
Pheromones are natural substances that animals produce to communicate. When today’s domestic cat’s forefathers were in the wild, this scenting behavior was critical to keep them safe and alive. Today domesticated cats practice the same behaviors, although sometimes in a slightly different context.
4. To Make Themselves Feel More Comfortable
Some cats will rub their faces on things when they are feeling anxious. Bunting can help them feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment or help to calm cats that are concerned.
This is also why cats like to put their scent on items around the house. It reminds them that these items are safe and that they can relax around them.
If you have visitors to your home, your cat may begin marking objects with their scent once your guests leave. This allows them to reclaim their territory and feel calmer.
5. To Get Your Attention
Have you ever noticed how your cat likes to rub against you and move through your legs as you prepare their meals? This transfers their scent onto you and is their way of ensuring they have all of your attention.
If you’re not preparing food and they rub their face against you, they probably want some stroking and attention. This also ties into other interesting behaviors, such as if your cat kneads you.
6. To Show Affection
When your cat rubs up against you, it could be their way of showing love and affection. When they were kittens, their mother would have done this to them and their siblings. It’s a wonderful sign that your cat loves and trusts you.
The nicest of all is arguably when your cat pushes their face up against yours. This is a true indicator that your cat trusts and adores you. Some cats will even do this to other animals in the house.
So if you have a friendly French bulldog and cat, don’t be surprised to see them rubbing up against one another.
7. To Trump Other Cats
If you have more than one cat in your home, you may have noticed that they often rub their faces on the same spots. Each cat is trying to hone their scent over the other cat or cats.
They tend to do this in the home’s most conspicuous and high-traffic areas. A male cat rubs its head on everything far more than a female.
8. To Check Out Newcomers
If you visit a friend’s house and find the cats rubbing their face on you, it’s for a very good reason. Cats will often rub themselves up on newcomers to their home.
When they do this, they are looking to gather information about this new person’s scent and see if they can smell other cats on the newcomer. It’s part of them assessing if that newcomer is any kind of threat to them.
So a cat rubbing its head on everything is very similar to rubbing on newcomers, as it helps them spread their scent and learn more about the guest.
Final Thoughts on Why Do Cats Rub Their Face on Things
Personally, I love it when my cat Alexei rubs up against me – no matter the reason! But it is useful to be able to interpret why your cat rubs its cheek on everything at different times and places.
Cats virtually never rub their faces on strangers, so when a cat pushes its little face up against you, it’s giving you a huge compliment.
Now that you know everything about cats rubbing antics, it’s essential to know about other cat characteristics before getting your new best friend. Check out my guides on why cats meow at night or their cute sleeping positions so you can be fully prepared for your bundle of love.
Meet the Veterinary Expert
Charlotte recently became a doctor and studied at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She’s volunteered in her university’s obstetrical clinic, and equine clinic, and is dog mum to 14-year-old Chiki. Charlotte loves to travel and has completed externships in Austria, Spain, and Belgium.