Why Does My Cat Rub Against My Dog?

Why Does My Cat Rub Against My Dog

Your cat rubs up against your dog to mark it as part of its territory or to identify it as a member of the household. It can also be viewed as a greeting. Cats greet each other by brushing their cheeks together to transfer their scents to one another. If your cat does this to your dog, it means that the dog has been accepted and is even loved by the cat.

If your cat rubs against your dog and you wish to learn more about this behavior, keep reading.

Why does my cat rub against my dog?

Your cat will rub against your dog to say hello, to transfer their smell to the dog, to mark the dog as a member of the family, to mark the dog as its possession, to show the dog that they have been accepted, or to collect information about the dog.

This behavior can be confusing, even for your dog. But if your cat is rubbing up against the dog, it is a sign of a good relationship.

Saying Hello

Cats greet each other by brushing their cheeks together to transfer scents to one another. If your cat does this to your dog, they could be saying hello.

Transferring Their Scent to Your Dog

Cats react favorably to animals or objects that are marked with their scent. It makes them feel comfortable in their environment.

When your cat rubs against your dog, the cat’s pheromones transfer from their scent glands to serve as a chemical message. These messages create a familiar scent profile that your cat can recognize. If your dog has been marked, it means that they are known, reassuring your cat that they can relax around your dog.

Marking the Dog as a Friend or Family Member

Your cat uses its sense of smell to categorize things in their surroundings for easy recognition. They make this easy to do by leaving their scent on the object. There are four main ways for a cat to mark their territory.

1. Scratching

Cat owners are all too familiar with their pets scratching the furniture. Cats have scent glands in their footpads and when they scratch on objects, they are also marking the area.

2. Spraying

Your cat may spray a small amount of urine around to mark their territory. It is usually the male who sprays, but sometimes females do it as well. This behavior is a sign of an insecure cat who is worried about its territory. Working out your cat’s triggers will help them overcome these problems.

3. Middening

Your cat will defecate in a strategic place to mark its territory. A cat normally buries its poop, but in this case, they will leave it uncovered to ward off other cats and dogs.

4. Rubbing

Your cat likes to rub on and around their property to deposit their scent. This is to deter rival cats or dogs from their territory. Cats have a unique scent that they rub on things that convey their strengths. They gain information from sniffing the scent markings of another animal. By marking your dog by winding their body around it, the cat is claiming the dog as its friend.

Classifying Your Dog as Their Possession

Cats like to think that they own everything. Your dog is no exception. Your cat will only rub on a dog that they have confidence around, so it is a great sign that the cat accepts your dog and vice versa.

Cats are not naturally good at sharing, so when you introduce a new pet, it may cause friction with your existing cat. For a harmonious household, let the cat rub on the new animal and all the things around the house so it believes it is the boss.

A Sign of Acceptance

When your dog runs towards your cat, the cat will smell its scent on the dog and recognize it as a friend. If the cat is rubbing against the dog on a daily basis, this means that they have accepted the fact that the annoying dog is here to stay. So long as they are in a position of authority, they will tolerate the dog’s presence.

This is not to say that the cat will not put the dog in its place if it steps over the line. Most cats will not tolerate being barked at or jumped on by an enthusiastic dog. But at least it will only be a minor altercation and not an all-out fight.

Learning About the Dog

Cats mark their territory to maintain or enhance their sense of security within their environment. They do not like change and prefer that things stay the way they are.

Once a cat has accepted the dog as a friend, it would like it to remain that way. Your cat will rub on your dog to establish the friendship every day. Your cat will notice if your dog is sick and not its usual self. They also know what behavior they can get away with within their relationship with the dog.

Cat’s Scent Glands

Every cat has scent glands located across its body. They have glands around their chin, whiskers, and cheeks. They have them at the base of their ears and between their toes. Lastly, they have scent glands at the base and length of their tail. Your cat will rub up against your dog to transfer its scent and to accept it as a member of its clan.


Your cat is rubbing against your dog because it is either trying to say hello to the dog, trying to transfer its scent to the dog for easier identification, marking the dog as a member of the family, claiming the dog as its possession, rubbing on the dog to let it know it has been accepted, or trying to collect more information about the dog.

Basically, it is your cat’s way of communicating with your dog. Your cat has a complex way of structuring the dynamics in its home, and putting its mark on your dog is a great sign because it means that your cat has completely accepted your dog.

Image: istockphoto.com / vvvita