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Why Does My Cat Headbutt My Hand? (Good Intentions?)

If your cat has headbutted your hand you may be left confused wondering if this is normal and why your cat does this…

Why does my cat headbutt my hand?

The most common reasons for a cat to headbutt your hand is to mark you with its sent (claim you), show its love, or a hint that it wants more petting from you. There are other reasons, several in fact, but these cover the top ones. Either way it’s a positive action.

So, now you know. But, is this a natural habit? Is this the same as head bunting? Should you return the love and headbutt your cat back? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 reasons why your cat may headbutt your hand:

Why does my cat headbutt my hand?

A cat with its head in a hand.

Earlier I briefly mentioned the main reasons why your cat may headbutt your hand. Therefore, in this section, I will explain each one in more detail:

01. To claim you (scent)

Cats rely on their scent a lot to alert them of their trusted people, and comfort zones. Therefore, they use their headbutting (what if its on your phone? click here) as a cunning ploy to mark you with their scent. This means they want to claim you as their property. But, don’t get offended, this is a compliment in the cat world.

02. Show love

Another reason is just to show love. Cats really do appreciate their owner and will always want to make this clear by using their loving headbutt against your hand. They may love their owner so much that they can even hiss at everyone else to fend them off, but that’s another story.

03. Wants to be petted

While you pet your cat you may see it lean in with another headbutt. In this context it is a subtle hint for you to keep going, your cat loves what you are doing and wishes for you to continue.

When you see this happen it is usually quite obvious that your cat is happy. Why? Well, they will usually purr at the same time as another form of body language.

What is a cat headbutt?

A cat headbutt is when they make contact with your hand, gently and then proceed to glide their head against your body. This could be towards your hand, face, leg, etc. It sounds dramatic because for humans this is deemed as an offensive attack.

However, for cats, this is a harmful gesture used for a variety of positive reasons, such as spreading its scent, getting attention, as discussed earlier. So, if you see your cat doing this take it as a compliment.

Is this headbutting a natural habit for cats?

Headbutting is a natural habit for cats. They are known to do this from young kittens right up to being elderly cats. It is a loving gesture that will use on any human they trust. Don’t be offended if they choose to do this to you but refuse to show the same love to your dad, mother, friend, or another close person, they are just picky.

If your cat is not doing this, on the other hand, it is not necessarily a cause for concern. It may be doing this with someone else and you do not know of it. Or, it just may not choose to do this, which is fine, right? Cats have their own personalities and can respond in many different ways.

Why does my cat keep nudging my hand?

Why does my cat headbutt me then bite me?

Why does my cat headbutt me then bite me?

Your cat keeps nudging your hand because it wants to secrete its scent on you. This is common for cats. They use their scent glands to emit pheromones that will mark you as a trusted member of their circle.

This action of nudging their head on your hands is no different from “headbutting”. In fact, one could argue it’s just another way of saying the same thing. Essentially the cat wants to be near you and should be taken as a compliment.

Why does my cat press his head against my hand?

Cats will press their head against your hand to spread their scent and pheromones onto your body. They will use this to identify you later with these tactics. Cats rely more on scent than their sight, unlike us humans.

This pressing of their head against your hand is no different from nudging or headbutting your hand. They are all, pretty much, one of the same things. They are all really different ways of describing the same action by your cat.

Should I headbutt my cat?

If your cat headbutts your face, it is fine to gently rub your head against them to reciprocate the love. But, it’s important to watch how they respond and be gentle. A headbutt, in this context, is merely a loving gesture between you and your pet.

However, the word headbutt could be taken out of context. It is not intended to be a violent attack in this way, for cats, it’s more of a head rub in a literal sense. So, try not to misunderstand the meaning in this scenario.

Is the cat headbutt the same as head bunting?

Head bunting is really the same as headbutting. The term “head bunting” is commonly used for cats as well as big cats. They use it as a way to show love to their social circle. They will often use this rubbing of heads to show mutual respect and acknowledge them as trusted family members.

So, if you come across the term “had bunting” again, now you know this is no different from headbutting for cats, in this context.

Why do cats head bunt?

Cats tend to head bunt to show affection and like a social greeting. It is used by domestic cats as well as wild big cats, like Lions. If you were to watch some lions, in pride, you would see them doing this behavior to greet and acknowledge their peers.

Is Head Pressing the same as headbutting?

Head pressing is not the same as headbutting. Head pressing is a disorder of a cat’s mind forcing them to press their head against a random object such as your coffee table, or wall. they are known to do this repeatedly and is not nice for them, or for you to see.

In a steep contrast, a headbutt is when a sane cat willingly rubs its head against a loved one to either spread its scent or request affection. They sound similar but mean two very different things.

What if your cat presses their head instead of headbutts?

If your cat is pressing their head against you, instead of headbutting it could be nothing, but it could also be a sign of a health issue. Your cat could be in pain or discomfort and pressing its head against you for relief.

If you fear this is the case then you should consult your vet to verify your concerns. But, it is better to check rather than assuming it will be fine.

Will cats headbutt just anyone?

Some cats will headbutt almost anyone they pass. But, it is more likely that they will reserve this for people they love and trust which is usually their owner, or people within their domestic household.

However, cats tend to have a favorite person and will gravitate to this person when it comes to headbutting.

Lindsey Browlingdon