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Why do cats ‘boop’?

Why do cats ‘boop’?

Posted by Armarkat on 28th Mar 2024

The ‘boop,’ or friendly touching of a pet’s nose, has become an internet phenomenon. But why are humans and cats fascinated with it? The answer lies in feline instinct and a shared bond of affection.

When I used to catsit for my sister, as soon as I entered her home and sat down, one of her cats would jump on my lap and touch his nose to mine. It felt like his way of granting me permission to enter kitty territory. I’m reminded of the stamp on your hand you receive upon entering a theme park. Even when I forgot my phone at my sister’s place and had to go back in just a couple minutes later, the kitty re-booped me upon entry.

According to the imaginative depths of the internet, a ‘boop’ doesn’t have to be nose-to-nose. Jackson Galaxy’s comical definition of the word is “to gently press the nose of any being, feline or otherwise, whilst saying the word ‘boop’.” The action has gone viral. On Facebook, the hashtag “boop” has 307,000 posts, and there are 370,000 under the same category on TikTok.

However, booping isn’t just a meme. The touching of noses has roots in feline nature. Jackson Galaxy describes it as “almost like a handshake or fist bump” that takes place between cats. They touch noses with each other to discover smells that answer questions like “Where were they? Where have you been sleeping? Did you eat something yummy?”

Yet the origins of the boop go even deeper. Psychologically, a cat perceives each human as a fellow cat. A veterinarian at I Heart Cats explains that a cat’s “brain reduces you into ‘cat sized’ proportions” and therefore cats act like you’re one of them.

How did cats learn to boop? Jackson Galaxy explains that the habit begins with a feline’s natural instincts. Because cats are blind at birth, they rely solely on smell for the first two weeks of their lives. The nose becomes their first contact with their littermates, mother, and the milk they need to survive. Humans joined that kitty tritual. With booping our cats, “we sort of found this way to become one of the cat tribe and greet our cats the way they would be greeted.”

Remember that booping is best for felines you know well. You should let a cat come to your finger first and sniff it before you attempt to boop. Writers at the Honest Kitchen warn that “[i]f you try to force it, the gesture could be viewed by the cat as aggressive and you could be scratched or bitten.” Boop responsibly!

Quote of the day: “Good days are when you come home to a cat’s love!” - Unknown