Every time your cat enters the room, he makes it a point to rub his squishy face against the couch before jumping onto your lap. And it is not just the couch. Your cat seems to rub his face on practically anything that he comes near. You are wondering why do cats rub their faces on things.
This behavior is called bunting which is a type of communication that felines use. Bunting serves different purposes, depending on the situation and which part of their head they use to rub against objects, other cats, and even their humans.
Why do cats cat rub their faces on things?
Cats rub their faces on things to transfer their scent to the object.
Bunting is a crucial part of the way cats communicate with the world around them. This type of communication entails the use of the scent glands found in your cat’s head.
These glands are located in the temples, chin, mouth, and ears. Apart from these glands located on the head, your cat also has other scent glands located in other body parts, including the tail and toes.
Your cat will use different scent glands on his head and face depending on the height of the object he wants to rub against. For example, if the object is taller than him, he will use the scent glands located on his ears or forehead.
Bunting serves a few purposes.
Cats are highly territorial creatures. But how exactly do they stake their claim to a certain area? Through the use of pheromones.
When a cat rubs himself against an object, whether indoors or outdoors, he is saying to other cats that he is the ruler of that territory.
This behavior is more evident in homes with more than one cat. You will notice that each cat claims ownership of certain objects by rubbing their scent on these.
Your cat may also rub himself against different things around your house after you have been visited by a guest. When cats feel threatened by a visitor, they will rub their faces and bodies against different objects to feel comfortable again inside your home.
However, it is not unusual for some cats to bunt against houseguests they are not familiar with, especially if a cat is confident. Your cat may do this to find information about the stranger that entered your home.
Marking the passage of time
As mentioned earlier, cats bunt on objects to stake their claim to a territory. Cats have the ability to use scents to determine how much time has passed since another feline left his scent marks on an object.
If the cat senses that the scent is left on an object, he may leave the area to avoid conflict. But if some time has passed after an object has been scent-marked, your pet may leave his own scent over the previous one to claim the territory.
Why your cat rubs his face against you
Aside from rubbing his face and body against objects, your pet may rub himself against you. Cats do this for two reasons.
First, they want to catch your attention. This is particularly true if your cat has a needy personality. Your pet might be doing this because he is begging for food or he simply wants to ask for tummy rubs.
Cats will try different things to catch the attention of their humans. And once they find out what action elicits their desired result, they will do that action over and over again. In this case, your pet might remember that rubbing himself against you means that he will get treats or be petted.
Sometimes, bunting is just one of the ways that your cat expresses his affection to you. Although cats may sometimes seem aloof, they can be affectionate. And one way they express their love for their humans is through allorubbing. Allorubbing is a way for cats to form and strengthen their bond with a human, cat, or even your dog.
Face rubbing can also be interpreted as a sign that a cat is being submissive to another feline or person in a home. When your pet rubs his face and presents his eyes in a vulnerable position, it means that your cat trusts you or the other cats in your home.
Why are scents important to cats
Although dogs are renowned for their highly-developed sense of smell, cats are not that far off when it comes to their smelling acumen.
In fact, the sense of smell is vital to cats for different purposes. In a colony, felines use scents to identify members. Scents can also be used to mark territories, announce fertility, reinforce bonds, and even show aggression toward other cats.
The location of the scent glands that have been used is critical in understanding the message a feline wants to send out.
When a cat uses the glands located in the head and face, it means that the message that he wants to send is friendly or non-threatening.
When a cat uses the scent glands in his paws while scratching an object, he is marking his territory and making his presence known to other cats within the vicinity. This behavior is embedded in a feline’s DNA that you cannot stop it. You can only redirect it.
Finally, the pheromones released in a cat’s urine is an aggressive form of communication. Usually, a cat uses his urine when he is stressed or feels excited.
A cat rubbing his face can mean a lot of things
Cats are known for displaying odd behaviors, including rubbing their faces against different objects. But although most of a cat’s actions may seem bizarre to you, there is a purpose behind each of these. Understanding the reasons behind these actions will allow you to become a better cat owner and help your cat out, especially when he is feeling stressed.
Image: istockphoto.com / krblokhin