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Cats Like Headbutts, But Most People Don’t Know What It Actually Means And Why We Should Do It Back To Them

Has you cat ever jump on your lap, and instead of snuggling, she bumps her head against your cheek, chin or forehead? Sometimes it’s a quick rub, but sometimes it is so hard it can actually hurt. It only takes a couple of seconds for her to do that and then she gets back to purring in your lap. So, what’s going on?

With humans, you are kind of clear about what’s going on with their actions, but cats are different. They headbutt cats, humans, and even furniture.

So here is why cats do the ‘headbutt’.

When Cats Headbutt Animals

Cat Headbutt Dog

To be precise, the headbutt is actually called ‘head bunting’, and it is an act related to social bonding.

Even big cats do, like lions for instance. They like to headbutt their pride members as a way of establishing and maintaining their family dynamic.

A cat behaviourist, Pam Johnson-Bennet says that placing their head so close to another is a sign of confidence and openness.

It is also a way for cats to mark and exchange scents. The scent glands are scattered all over their bodies. If they brush their head on another cat, they build a group scent that implies a tight bond.

Why Do Cats Headbutt Furniture?

Cat Headbutt Furniture

To cats, headbutts imply friendliness and close bond. But what about the furniture headbutts?

Some behaviourists say headbutting a nonliving object can be a cat’s way of acknowledging that object’s closeness. Still, it’s much more plausible that it has to do with scents and territory.

Felines use the scent glands on their cheeks to mark their region. It informs the animals that territory has previously been claimed.

Keep in mind that headbutting is not the same as head pressing. If a cat is continuously pressing their head against hard objects, it could imply some severe neurological disorder.

What About Cats Headbutting Humans?

 Cats that are headbutting humans are driven by the same motives as headbutting animals or furniture. They are expressing closeness and using scent as a marker. When she marks you with her smell, she will feel safer around you.

Some very social cats may headbutt anyone they meet. Still, for most of them, it’s reserved just for the people, animals, and objects that they consider friendly and their own.

Sometimes it’s just her way to get your attention. It’s a way to ensure that you can’t ignore her.

If your cat enjoys headbutts, you can try out your own headbutt. Slowly and gently headbutt your cat and observe how your cat reacts. She will probably return the gesture and headbutt you back.

Even though we don’t speak the same language, there is one universal way that we all can understand, and that is body language. You and your cat can use it to become even closer.

Try it out and comment below how your cats reacted to you headbutting them.

Should I Worry If My Cat Doesn’t Headbutt Me?

Tobias The Cat


There are a lot of headbutt variations among cats, with a wide range of frequency and intensity. So you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned if your cat doesn’t headbutt you.

Dr. Herron says, “While cats that do this are often feeling safe and trusting, I don’t know that I would say a lack of headbutting indicates a problem. Each cat may have a different propensity to headbutting others.”

You should keep in mind that every cat is unique in her own way and so, don’t worry if your cat doesn’t headbutt you or her fellow animal friends.

There is a lot of variation in the frequency as well as intensity of the cat’s headbutt and there are thousands of different ways in which cats show their affection.