5 reasons why cats rub their heads on other things

Many cat owners wonder why cats love to rub their head on things. Well, there are several reasons why your feline friend may want to rub their head against a variety of objects, and we shall explore them in this article.

However, it is important that you know that cats have many scent glands located on their head region. So when you see them rub their head on your couch, soft toys, other animals, and even your legs, know that they always do leave their scent behind.


This behavior is often called head rubbing or bunting.  But why this behavior in the first place? Are they trying to be sweet or show you something else? Let’s get to find out!


Cats Bunting Behavior and Pheromone Glands

Cats are built genetically to have different pheromone/scent producing glands at different parts of their bodies. They have these glands on their ears, along the length of their tail, beneath their chin, between their toes, on their temples, and the corner of their mouth.

However, most times, they tend to use their entire head to rub against objects. Well, the part they rub their head against depends on the height of the object in question.  

They tend to rub their forehead and ears on high objects, while they use a swipe from their mouth to the corner of their ear on head-height objects. Also, they rub their chin and through on lower objects.

The scents produced by cats during bunting can only be detected by other cats. In fact, the pheromones give a lot of info about them, including their age, reproductive status and gender.

If you spend a day observing your cat closely, you’ll observe that this face or head rubbing is a regular thing throughout the day. The process often starts with a sniff test. Kitties have a sense of smell that’s over 1400% stronger than that of human.

What a cat will first do is inhale an object to detect scents. This is a way to know if their scent is fading or if it’s been replaced by that of another cat or pet. In most cases, however, they often reapply their pheromones scent to strengthen their signal and presence.

Reasons why cats rub their heads on other things

Are you wondering why your feline friend loves to rub their head on almost everything? Here are some of the possible reasons you may not know about:

To mark their territory

When cats rub their head on objects, it may be a way to add their scent to show other cats, “this territory is taken.” When our domestic cat’s ancestors were in the wild, these pheromones produced naturally from their body were very helpful in keeping them safe and alive.

The good thing is that scenting behavior is passed down – of course it is genetically preserved – and today’s domesticated cats practice same, although there are some slight differences in context compared to their predecessors.

The interesting thing is that a cat can determine how long another cat has been in a territory, based on the strength of the odor left behind. This way, they tend to determine if the cat is still in the area, thereby leaving quickly to avoid any type of problem or conflict.

In the wild, these scenting is very useful for cats, especially the males who wants to avoid having issues with other male cats.

To pick up scents

Apart from marking their territory, cats sometimes rub their heads on other things to pick up scents. This way, they get familiar with these objects and things around them. And they find a way to merge their scents with that of these items they rub against.

So when you take your cat out of their comfort zone, say to the groomer or vet, they may react negatively, because they are being exposed to completely different scents and people.

Most times the height of the objects around cats will determine which part of their head they will use to leave a scent mark. However, it is not surprising to see cats choose conspicuous objects, such as a coffee table, the corner of a wall that sticks out, the edge of a sofa, or the corner of a box.

More commonly, male cats bunt on objects more than female cats. Sometimes, cats tend to even bunt on scents left behind by other cats.

However, in some instances when cats are in groups, they often rub on each other, but this time it’s a way of saying hello.

To get comfortable

Cats sometimes rub their heads on things around them when they feel anxious. When they bunt, they tend to feel more comfortable, especially in an unfamiliar environment.  

Most times, in addition to bunting, an anxious cat often displays other signs, such as aggressive behavior, overgrooming, and trying to hide or escape.

This is a key reason why cats love to put their scents on objects around the house. It constantly reminds them that they are safe and can confidently relax around these items. They just want the environment to smell familiar, anyways.

So, if you’ve got a cat, perhaps a new one, and you observe them to rub themselves on everything, just relax okay, do not be a haste to reach out to your vet. Your cat is simply trying to make himself feel at home in the new environment you call home.

One more thing - don’t be surprised when you see your cat marking objects immediately after your visitor leaves your home. They do this to reclaim their home to feel calm and relaxed.

Likewise, if you bring home a new furniture, say a chair, wardrobe, table, your cat might get to rub their scent on these items. Don’t worry, they just to get reassurance that the object is OK and they are safe. Isn’t that lovely? Do not make the mistake of punishing your cat for such behavior.

Looking for a mate

Now many cat owners do not know this, but sometimes your cat mar rub their heads on objects to provide visual cues to cats of the opposite sex during mating season.

Sexually intact cats will naturally behave in this manner. In fact, when female cats are in heat, they produce a powerful sex pheromone. They often spread it around to entice their sex mate.

Male cats are always interested in this pheromones and female bunt marks. They tend to pick up scent changes in female cats and get drawn to them.

To trump other cats

Do you know that cats can be selfish sometimes in terms of their space? If you have more than one cat in your home, you might have observed one cat rubbing their faces repeatedly on same spot. I bet you didn’t get the message, but let’s get it clear.

When your cat bunts continuously on a spot, they may be trying to rub their scent over that of another cat they perhaps co-exist with. Do not get it wrongly, your feline friend do not mean any harm, instead, they just want the space to themselves.

Here’s a clue for you – Cats often trump other cats mostly at high traffic areas of the home.


Bunting in cats is a natural behavior that is common among all cats. So, do not be surprised when you find your feline friend rubbing their head constantly on the same spot. We have carefully highlighted the possible reasons and your cat might be on any of these courses.

Do not be quick to reprimand or punish your cat for bunting on items and even you. They are only trying to be calm, relaxed, and own their territory.



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