Cats are known for their many unique behaviors that are common strictly to felines. Some of their distinct behaviors can be bothersome, for instance running around like crazy at dawn. But, similar to purring, rubbing against you is one of their sweetest attributes. If they rub your face or your legs, they are giving you the utmost compliment by marking you with their scent. This means they now own you—but you already accepted this when you first adopted your cat!
When your cat rubs against you, she in fact communicating with you by transferring, or marking you with her scent. When she does this, her scent glands secrete chemicals, or pheromones. These glands are found in her cheeks, tail, forehead, paws, and rear end. She is marking you as a member of her family, or “tribe”, if you will. You are a safe and secure person. She is communicating her acceptance as she makes you a valued member of her social circle. You can be sure that if Kitty does not like you, she will not rub up against you in this manner.
Since there is a somewhat different meaning to each of the ways your cat rubs against you, let’s see what the different areas she chooses to rub indicate:
Head Bunting: This happen when Kitty comes up to you and pushes her head into your palm, thus making you aware it’s time to pet her. Is she simply demanding your attention, or is something more going on? As it turns out, this is a behavior common to carnivores. The large cats in the jungle display the same behavior. What it means, as we have learned, is you are accepted as part of her family. She is mingling her scent with yours to solidify this special familial relationship. It is one of the main ways cats go about marking their territories.
Leg Rubbing: This is generally a greeting, a friendly “hello!” Again, the cat is marking you with her tail and her cheeks. Even a stranger who seems very approachable can be marked in this same manner. There is another main reason they will rub your lower limbs, and that is to express hunger. Did you ever trip over Kitty as she weaves around your legs right before you feed her?
Rolling: When Kitty rolls over and shows you her tummy, she is letting you know that she is pleased to see you. Furthermore, she is not only happy and content, but she trusts you enough to expose this vulnerable and very sensitive part of her anatomy. She may even purr at the same time she rolls over. You can be certain that this is the ultimate form of flattery. You are truly her person. Just watch out where you pet her. Sometimes, if you try to pet that soft belly, it can send her feline instincts right into attack mode. So, watch, but don’t touch! I’m just saying.
Smelling or Rubbing of Feet: Just like felines, humans also produce pheromones. When Kitty keeps rubbing or sniffing at your feet, she is attuned to your hormones. Like pheromones, she will mix her scent with your own.
Body language can teach us so much about how our cats think and feel. We can be sure that when our cats rub up against us, it is a congenial gesture. By mixing their hormones with ours, they are showing how much they care. This is yet another form of feline communication, but it is one of the nicest. So, enjoy the mutual affection. It’s now your turn to pet her to reinforce this positive behavior.
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