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Why Do Cats Bang Their Forehead on Humans? (Love?)

If your cat bangs its forehead on you, you may be wondering why this happens, and if it’s good or bad.

Why do cats bang their forehead on humans?

The act of “head bunting”, or what most people commonly refer to as head butting or bumping, is far more about scent, acceptance, and confirmation that you belong in the household than it is about love. Don’t get me wrong I am positive that part of this little formality is about how lovesick your cat has gotten in your absence.

So, now that you know why cats bang their forehead on you. Keep reading to learn if bunting is done on other cats too,  if it’s bad if your cat does not do this, why cats rub their scent on you, and so much more…

Why do cats rely on their scent?

Like their dog counterparts, cats rely heavily on scent to ensure all is well in their home. Their eyesight is quite good and chances are they recognize you, as a part of their tribe, by sight and sound as well as smell the moment you arrive home.

Have you ever noticed how your cat will quite literally rub his entire body on you after you have returned from an overnight trip?

As pet owners, we want to believe that our cats love and miss us as much as we missed them. They jump into this long ritual of rubbing themselves all over us to show us how much they love us and miss us right? Wrong, that might be some of the reasons they can’t get enough of us but the main reason for all this devotion is more about your cat marking his territory.

Is cat bunting done on other cats?

In feral cat communities as well as within multi-cat households there is a definite chain of command amongst the colony. The dominant cat is in charge of making sure that everyone, feline and otherwise, smells like them. This is achieved using head bunting.

While all your cats may head bunt, you will notice that you have one cat in the household that seems to be “more affectionate” than their counterparts. This cat will most likely exhibit other dominant behaviors like hoarding toys and choosing the very best sunspot to rest his weary head.

Why do cats leave their scent on you?

I hate to be the one to break this to you but your cat thinks you stink. Cats can smell 14 times better than humans. Your cat can not stand the smell of you when you have returned home from being away for an extended period of time. Couple that with the amount of “smelly goods” we bath ourselves in daily and your cat has no choice but to act post-haste.

You will notice that the head bunting will at first be almost aggressive as your cat tries to pin you down and get the stench of last night Chanel off of you. In multi-cat households, the dominant cat will go first and the rest of the cats will follow. 

What is a cat’s Pheromone Gland?

Cats have a series of pheromone glands located throughout their bodies that enable them to mark their objects with their scent. Found in between toes, beneath the chin, on the ears, on the corners of the mouth, and on their temples, these pheromone glands make it easy to transfer scents during head bunting.

Cats also have pheromone glands that run the length of their tails, perhaps offering an explanation as to why your cat swishes and flicks their tails at the sight of you and does a figure-eight motion between your legs as you prepare their dinner.

Is it bad if your cat does not bunt its head on you?

Why do cats bang their forehead on humans?

Why do cats bang their forehead on humans?

It is not a bad sign if your cat is not into head bunting. They don’t love you any less.

In a multi-cat household, you may have one cat the head bunts consistently, and others that don’t head bunt or do it very little. Either way is okay and normal.

It could be that your dominant kitty is doing the whole job for the colony and the other cats are satisfied by the work that the Alpha cat is doing. It is also possible that your cat doesn’t head bunt because there is enough scent transfer taking place during times of affectionate petting and snuggling.

How do cats recognize themselves?

Cats almost exclusively recognize one another and themselves by smell. There have been several studies done about cats and self-recognition and I encourage you to take a look at them as they are absolutely enthralling.

The internet is full of people who put their cats in front of a mirror and film them melodically meowing at their reflection. This begs the question, “Does my cat know he is looking at his own reflection?”. Researchers have shown that cats cannot recognize that it is indeed their own likeness that is before them.

Basically, the research shows that cats cannot recognize their physical self in a mirror but that they can recognize a littermate from ten years ago by their scent. What amazing creatures they are.

Is bunting the same as the “Head Boop”?

The Head Boop is the same thing as head bunting. I feel like the internet has coined the phrase “head boop” as a way of classifying the series of movements during bunting in a way that makes bunting more searchable.

Can you also bang your forehead on your cat?

Not only can you practice head bunting with your cat but you should! It is a great way to bond and show your cat how much you enjoy their affection.

All the ways your cat shows affection can be reciprocated as a sign of unity. Your cat will really appreciate you taking the time to show them affection in a way they recognize and enjoy. Scratching your cat’s chin and ears while gently bumping your head against them is the ultimate way to communicate that you are all part of the same family.

Why do cats rub against random objects?

You might notice that your cat spends quite a bit of time rubbing their face and chin on the corners of your furniture. This process of anointing objects in the house and claiming ownership is your cat’s way of making sure that everyone knows whose house they are in.

You might notice, after a thorough cleaning, that your cat is leaving a fur trail in the exact place you just spent hours dusting. This is your cat’s way of making sure that you didn’t get rid of their pheromones.

Is territory marking different?

When a cat is marking their territory it is a bit different than when they are marking you with a session of head bunting. Territorial marking can sometimes mean that your cat is feeling insecure about their place in the home or even insecure about someone in the home.

Cats need to feel like everything is under their control. They may begin having trouble with inappropriate elimination or spraying as it is sometimes called. An excessive amount of head bunting on objects and people could indicate that the kitty is feeling threatened by something or someone.

It is important to mention that if your cat is pressing his head into walls, objects, or people they need to see a vet. This head pressing is NOT head bunting, there is no swiping motion only a hard press. This usually indicates a neurological problem that should be addressed immediately.

Lindsey Browlingdon
 

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