Why Do Cats Headbutt You?

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Why Do Cats Headbutt You?

Why does my cat headbutt me? Have you ever wondered what your feline’s strange and peculiar gesture means? Well, we are here to solve this mystery for you! Cats headbutt humans when they want to display their love and affection for them.

Any human should feel honored when cats do this to them, showing that the ordinarily suspicious cat trusts and adores them. In this article, we will explain what cat headbutts mean and what you should do to respond. We also answer the question that pet owners often wonder: should I headbutt my cat back?

What Is the Meaning of Cat Headbutting?

First of all, let us explain what headbutting is. It is more commonly referred to as head bunting. If you own a cat, you might have seen this gesture numerous times without realizing what it means.

You are sitting quietly while your cat looks at you, starts walking towards you, and then gently touches its forehead to yours. This is what a cat’s headbutt looks like. Cats may even rub their forehead lightly against your cheek in some cases, which is also a form of cat headbutt.

So, what does cat headbutt mean? Before we go into the technical reasons behind it, let us clarify that this is a gesture of affection. Cats often do this with whom they feel a sense of attachment and trust.

Cat headbutting a girl's shoulder

We all know that cats do not trust humans easily. This is a characteristic of being a wild animal for centuries since cats could trust no one in the jungle to guarantee their survival. So, if cats headbutt you despite their cynical and distrustful nature, you should feel honored since it shows that they trust you with their eyes closed, a true sign of affection!

Your Cat Is Trying to Leave Its Scent on You

If your cats headbutt you, the primary reason is they are trying to establish that you are “theirs.” We all know that cats engage in territorial behaviors, and headbutting is one of the many ways they mark you as part of their possessions.

There is nothing scary about this! If anything, you should feel glad that your cat loves you enough to make you part of its territory. Their foreheads have scent glands, when rubbed against you, they leave pheromones on your skin.

You will also notice that cats headbutt other objects they like, such as toys or select pieces of furniture, it is done to mark their territory, claiming these objects as theirs.

Cat rubbing its head on a girl

Your Cat Wants Some Attention!

Another reason why cats headbutt is that they want to get your attention. So when your cat does this to you, think about whether or not you have been giving enough time to your feline friend.

Have you been busy with work lately? Have you adequately fed your cat? If you have not had the time to feed or pet your cat, then your feline friend will engage in some observable behaviors to catch your attention. Headbutting is one of these behaviors. After all, it is hard to ignore a cat when it lovingly rubs its forehead on yours!

Your Cat Wants You to Smell Familiar

Another more straightforward reason is that your cat is not trying to mark you as their possession, but it is trying to get you to smell like it! Yes, you heard it right!

When cats headbutt you, they leave their scent on you. This makes you smell like the cat, and your cat loves it. Now you feel like an actual part of its family. Cats crave familiarity, and when you smell familiar to your cat, it truly encourages the bond between you and your pet.

How Should I Respond?

There are two ways you can react depending on how they do it. The first is the “normal” head bunting, where your cat gently rubs its forehead against yours in a relaxed manner.

You can respond to a cat’s headbutt by petting your cat and spending some quality time with it. This is a gesture of pure love and friendship, and awarding your kitty by spending some quality time with it encourages this positive behavior.

Another way is by giving your cat a treat or its favorite toy. These are all signs that help inculcate an atmosphere of love and affection between your pet and yourself.

Young woman headbutting her cat

Many people ask, “Should I headbutt my cat back?” If you can manage to touch your cat’s forehead with your own gently, we suggest that you should do it back to your cat!

Headbutt is Not Head Pressing!

In some rare cases, a cat’s headbutt can manifest their anxiety, and they are using this gesture to get your attention. If your cat looks worried, or its tail is twitching when it headbutts you, this can signify something troubling your cat.

Look in your surroundings and remove whatever stimulus you think is disturbing your cat. In this situation, try not to touch or play with your cat too much since this could end up making your cat even more anxious.

But please be aware of head pressing. If your cat keeps pressing their head against the wall, hard surfaces such as a table, or even the floor, again and again, then it is head pressing. It is a serious condition that may relate to nervous disorders or toxic poisoning. In this case, visit your veterinarian immediately for further diagnoses.


Now that you know why cats headbutt, a kind and loving gesture it is! You must now understand why your cats engage in this cryptic behavior so that you can react accordingly.

A cat’s headbutt is a generally positive sign, so you should respond positively and encourage it. In the rare cases where it represents anxiety, you can respond by removing the source of stress and keeping your distance from your pet momentarily.

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