If someone were to slam his forehead into yours, it would most likely result in a fight. But, when your feline does this to you, it has a different meaning entirely.
Head-butting can be seen as a huge milestone in the relationship between your cat and yourself. This is because cats are not as affectionate and are also entirely independent by nature.
In this article, we will be taking a more in-depth look at why head-butting takes place alongside other core things related to this behavior. But first, let’s take a look at what cat Head-butting is about.
What is Bunting in Cats?
The technical description for what your cat is doing when he bumps you on the head is bunting.
It is used for differentiating between head pressing and head rubbing. Understanding how these two differ, can aid you in better understanding your cat’s behavior and appreciating what bunting means.
It also has to do with rubbing themselves against your legs and head-cracking. They do this for some reasons, which are:
To leave their scent on you
They want you to pet them
If your cat head-butts you, especially in the mornings, it could be a significant sign of affection. It could also be your sign to get going. In the world of cats, head-butting is similar to kissing. If your cat greets you using this method, then you are a loved owner.
Anatomy of Felines
To completely understand why cats behave the way they do, we need to look a bit into feline anatomy.
By nature, cats are built to mark their territory, which they do by rubbing against stuff. They have scent glands that let our pheromones all around their bodies including cheeks and foreheads. When your cat head-butts you, he is placing this pheromone on you.
When your cat smells you, he will be able to perceive all that you have touched that day. He will be able to detect the sardines you had for launch or your neighbor’s pet on your clothes. He will be able to know more about you than you know about him.
This is because cats have a sense of smell that is highly evolved and they presume everyone can do this. For this reason, they mark things they desire to claim for themselves like their owners.
When you spend more time observing your pet, you will notice that asides from head-butting you, he does it to your walls, furniture, and any other location he claims for himself. Some cats would also head-butt your dog.
These are all methods of claiming what they presume belongs to them.
These are hormones cats have in the external part of their body. Insects, as well as animals, secrete it. We are unable to smell them because they can only be detected via the vomeronasal organ which has not been developed in humans.
Pheromones are utilized in communicating with other animals. It also works for manipulating those animals to carry out specific functions like:
Bonding mother to baby
Preparing for sexual activity
Why Do Cats Headbutt Humans?
Headbutting is a kind of social interaction and a way of showing love. Although cats have scent glands all around their bodies that they can use in leaving their scent on objects, headbutting is not the same.
Rubbing is a form of marking territory but headbutting is a means of affection and engagement. This is evidence of trust from your cat.
Asides from affection and respect, cats, can also use headbutting to get your attention. When your cat’s headbutt’s you and starts to grind its face or tuck its head against you, it is usually a sign of something beyond a loving gesture.
As time goes on, you will be familiar with the headbutting techniques of your cat and when it usually occurs. Depending on your response, your cat will adjust its headbutting.
Cats are cute yet smart and have a way of training you without knowing.
Other Reasons cats may Headbutt you and other items
There are other reasons your cat may headbutt you as well as other things in your home. Below are a few of them.
The feline scent used in messaging works in two ways. When a cat gets close to a stranger, it may rub its head on his shoes for example.
This gesture may not be a greeting or a show of affection. It is a means of getting a scent to access the situation. Irrespective of if the stranger is a human, canine, or feline, they will be able to learn all they require in just a few headbutts.
People often mix up this behavior as a friendly gesture. But that is not always true. If the cat does not like the smell, this stranger emits, approaching the cat could be viewed as a threat.
Communication with other cats
Cats can also use this behavior in passing information to other felines. When they rub their head against a box, wall, or any item they love, they are leaving a message for any cat after them.
Felines visiting these areas would only need to smell the scent, and they would be able to tell who has been there as well as what their plans are. Cats that do not want confrontations would leave these areas.
Scents also function in drawing in possible mates.
Is It Okay to Headbutt Your Cat?
- To a degree, it is okay to return the favor if your cat starts bunting. If your cat begins to twist and rub its face against yours, it is great to lean back a bit. It will make your cat feel better loved while allowing them to know you know what the gesture means.
It is acceptable to engage your cat this way for a short period.
- Because it will be impossible for your cat to communicate how you do, bunting can aid in bridging the gap between affection and understanding.
Your cat will be able to understand this gesture way better than it would understand spoken words.
It is not a good idea to punish or scold your cat for bunting. Doing this may undo some of the trust and love your cat has developed for you. It is not advisable to meet a gesture of affection with an adverse physical reaction or harsh tone.
Do Cats Headbutt Other Cats?
Cats will headbutt other cats they believe are friendly. Just like how cats bunt with a person, cats will also bunt with one another if they have formed a powerful bond of companionship. You will be able to notice this with house cats that have stayed together for a long time.
It is not strange for cats that engage in bunting to nap with one another. Lots of times, cats will engage in bunting before they curl up and sleep. It is common in a controlled home environment where cats can stay together on sofas, chairs, etc.
Do All Cats Headbutt?
Not every cat headbutts. Just like humans, all cats come with their personality and shows affection in diverse methods.
If your cat does not engage in bunting with you, this does not mean a lot when it has to do with affection. Your cat has decided to show contentment using another method.
Below are a bunch of methods cats display affection asides from bunting:
Blinking slowly and closing their eyes:
When a cat can close its eyes around you, it is a sign that they trust you. Known for their large eyes and deep stares, if your cat believes he is comfortable enough not to watch you, it is a sign of trust and love.
Does your cat love being close to you? Does it rub against you when you are feeding him?
This is proof of affection. Cats are known to do what they want and are independent. When your cat decides to hang out with you willingly, it is proof of love.
Bringing You Gifts
Does your cat bring gifts to you including a variety of rodents? While it may be disgusting from a human perspective, these items are gifts for you. It is why you should not scream or scold your cat when he brings a mouse to your door.
Restrict your cat indoors as a method of averting issues in the future while letting your cat understand that the action is acceptable. You have to be careful because scolding your cat after it presents you with what he believes to be a gift will only end up confusing him.
Reacting when you return
It is not common for cats and dogs to share similar behavior when it has to do with the way they interact with people. However, a reaction to your return or arrival is proof of love. If your cat heads towards you and is excited when you return from vacation, work, school, etc, then it shows you have been missed.
Cats do not miss what they do not like. Take this as evidence of affection.
If a cat kneads on you, towels, pillows, and sofas, this is a sign of affection. Exposing its stomach while your pet is also another sign.
This also shows trust as the tummy is the most vulnerable area of the body.
Why Does My Cat Bite my Nose?
By now, you must know that headbutting is not abnormal for cats. Even though your cat does not do this often, there is no need to worry. But how about bites that come after the affectionate and loving headbutt?
Why would your cat bite you unexpectedly? Well, the good news is, this is not an aggressive bite. It is more of an affectionate one. Better still, you could see it as a love bite. Note that any time the bite occurs, it is a light one.
It is usually the kind that is similar to a nibble above anything else. It does not damage your skin and usually lets go when you are taken aback.
What is Head Pressing? – Is it the same as Bunting?
This is when a cat presses its head against a piece of furniture or wall in an almost constant and frequent manner. This pressing often comes with strange behaviors and sounds like yowling.
Head pressing alongside the strange behaviors and signs above can be evidence of a neurological disorder. It occurs in cats of various ages, and it should be dealt with when you visit a vet.
Other reasons include:
Reaction to toxins and medicines
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Any condition that affects the brain can result in head pressing. It does not have to stem from the brain to result in this behavior.
Headbutting that occurs in the morning or any other period of the day is a noted display of trust and affection. Cats can also use this as a method of seeking attention to make you feed or pet them.
Asides from petting the stomach, bunting is one of the core signs that your cat trusts you completely. It is not an easy feat as gaining the loyalty and love of your cat does not occur in one day.
There are numerous variations in bunting among kittens with a broad range of intensity and frequency. It should not necessarily bother you if your cat does not push you with his head or bump you.
But if he/she does, remember that it is not a bad thing, and scolding your pet may make her stop trusting you entirely.