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Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me? (Cat Head Bumps EXPLAINED)

Posted in: Cat Care - Last Updated: July 13, 2022 - Author: Dexter Jones
Posted in Cat Care 
Last Updated: July 13, 2022  
Author:  Dexter Jones

New domestic cat owners might find interesting facts about their little feline buddy simply by noticing their cat behavior. When I adopted my first cat Sally, she always used to headbutt me. 

Just like you, I often wondered, "why does my cat headbutt me?" I really was curious as to find out the meaning of headbutts from cats’ perspective.

And I must assure you, by the end of this article, you will also become the happiest person in the world if your kitty does it too!

why does my cat headbutt me

Why Do Cats Headbutt?

Headbutts are social bonds in which they rub their head around your body, but this simple cat behavior has a very big meaning from a cat’s perspective. The scent glands on your buddy’s forehead, chin, and cheeks contain pheromones. 

This might raise a question in your head “what are pheromones?” 

Pheromone is a substance produced in animals for scent communication and navigation. So, when these little lions gently rub their heads on a human body, they are transferring their pheromones on the body. 

During headbutts, your little friend is depositing their own scent into your body from the glands located in the front of its ears.

If your cat headbutts you often, then the pheromones from your cat signal to the other cats around you that you are his/her person. It is a sign of affection from our feline friends.

No matter how and where your fur buddy does it, a feline headbutt means that you are now marked by the little fellow. 

But here, you must know the difference between this from a head press.

why do cats headbutt

Head Pressing vs. Head butting

You can easily distinguish between both by your cat’s actions before and after rubbing or pressing their head against a person or an object. Head bumps are usually accompanied by purring and the cat’s body language is visibly relaxed. 

If your little buddy’s body language is relaxed, then make sure that he/she loves you and considers you as a safe place.

Head pressing is usually done by the cats due to a serious neurological issue. If you feline compulsively push its head against a wall, piece of furniture, or any other inanimate object then it is considered a head pressing. 

This might appear with certain other symptoms as well i.e. vision changes, pacing, or even injuries due to the excessive pressing of the head against objects.

If your bud shows signs of head pressing, then you must immediately get him/her checked by a good veterinarian.

The vet might ask for certain tests including MRI or CT Scan.

So, Why Do Cats Bump Heads?

Headbutting is always a good sign and there might be several possibilities that your cat headbutts you. 

As stated before, cats have certain glands located on their heads that produce certain pheromones. 

The main reason is that they are depositing a pheromone on the object that they headbutt with. The reason for this action might be any of the ones described below:

cat head butt

1. Mark Territory

The first and foremost reason that your cat headbutts any human or object is to mark the place or person as a safe place. 

It is and isn’t the same as marking territory at the same time. Headbutting is a friendly way for cats to mark their areas and to let other cats know that there is another cat in the surrounding.

It can be considered the same as when humans put out certain sign boards in different places or their homes. 

Most people put name plaques outside their homes to let other people know that it's theirs. 

Headbutting can also be considered as cats putting up their invisible name plaques on certain objects or humans.

2. Group Scenting

Most cats are now considered social creatures, despite the ancient thoughts of them being solitary creatures. You might find your little fur ball headbutting with other cats in the neighborhood. 

Here, I can assure you that it isn’t a sign of aggression or dominance when cats rub their heads with each other.

I can relate my own experience here after adopting Milly. When I first noticed my little princess rubbing her head against and licking an unknown cat I immediately picked her up and took her back home as I didn’t want my cat to get into a fight and get hurt. 

But after getting home, I researched on the internet and found out that cats do this to create a colony scent.

Colony scent is a mixture of the scent of each cat living in the neighborhood. This unique scent is then distributed amongst the cats living in the area as their identity.

3. Bonding

If a cat headbutts you, it might mean that he/she is trying to create a special bond with you and feels safe around you. Just as marking safe places, these little felines mark their people as well. 

Your little buddy might headbutt any other person, but this doesn’t mean that your cat loves you less. It is a cat's way that he/she feels safe around that specific person and wants to create a bond.

cat headbutt

4. Seeking Attention

Headbutting can be done by a cat as a way to seek attention from its person. Yes, this means that not every time your cats want to mark you, it also means that your little buddy wants your attention.

Cats usually love to be scratched on the head and under the chin.

If you usually reward your little bud with scratches, the regular headbutting might mean that your bud wants some scratches or belly rubs.

5. Self-Soothing

If your little feline rubs his/her head or face on certain objects while purring and feeling relaxed, it means that your bud is showing self-soothing behavior. 

Cats love the scent of their pheromones, which is the reason that they enjoy depositing it on the things they feel safe around.

So, if your buddy is headbutting certain objects and feeling relaxed then it means that he/she is enjoying some alone time and working on his/her well-being.

6. A Mark of Respect

You will often see a cat headbutting other cats.  

This is super common. 

This is to show respect to other cats or to create a common colony scent or group scent with other cats in the household. It is a cat's way of scent marking and creating familiarity within their territory.

Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me? Summary

These little tigers might headbutt due to any reason, but I can assure you that they are very happy and relaxed while doing so. 

If your buddy headbutts you often then this means that your feline companions love you a lot and require your constant attention.

About the author

Dexter Jones has been a solid member of the ‘Mad Cat Dad’ club since time began! Dexter has been a keen cat writer for many years and lives in Croatia. He lives with his two tabby cats, Milly & Marly, who also flew in from the UK to start their new Adriatic island life together.