Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me?

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Why does my cat headbutt me? Getting a cat headbutt is a bit like getting a hug, once you’re used to this behavior. It’s a way for them to show you their affection.

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cat rubbing against leg  - why does my cat headbutt me

As most cat owners will notice, cats have an odd habit of constantly headbutting their owners. They absolutely love to rub their face against your legs when you’re trying to get things done.

But why do they do this? What does headbutting mean to cats? Well, it’s nothing bad I can promise you that. We’ve got answers for you in this post.

What is a Cat Headbutt?

When cats headbutt, it’s generally just them bumping their head against you or an object, and then rubbing the object with their cheek. This is commonly referred to as cat bunting. It can be a bit weird to experience if you aren’t used to cats, and you might think they’ve got a flea issue or itch on their neck.

Headbutting is extremely common cat behavior, and almost every cat I’ve come into contact with has done this. It’s quite cute once you get used to it, but it can be annoying at first. If your cat is bent on rubbing their face on your legs, they might end up tripping you, so be careful!

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Why Does My Cat Headbutt?

A cat has the majority of their scent glands on their heads. Namely, their cheeks, lips, and forehead. So when they headbutt you, they’re trying to transfer their scent to you.

cat rubbing against a fence

It’s important to know they aren’t marking you as their territory. Cats transfer scents to mark their “safe zone” or basically to make you smell like home so they can find you later. In large cats, such as lions, they use bunting to establish a social bond with other members of their pride.

A cat exclusively uses this behavior to signify that whatever it’s bunting is part of their tribe. Yay us! We get to be part of their family. Your cat may exhibit this behavior towards humans, other animals, and furniture to mark it as a safe spot for the cat.

It’s like a feline hug. So, your cat is trying to tell you that you’re buddies! It’s actually very similar to why a cat will bite you when they’re playing.

Is Cat Bunting a Sign of Affection?

cat rubbing against a shoe

Yes and no. A cat giving its scent to you means that they think you’re safe and trustworthy. It’s not entirely an affectionate behavior, but it does mean that your cat trusts you enough to make you part of its permanent home.

It’s a way for them to say “we’re friends” without speaking. If a cat headbutts you, it’s safe to say they like you and appreciate your comfort and safety.

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Should You Headbutt Your Cat?

cat getting scratched

Well, you certainly shouldn’t headbutt your cat in the human sense of trying to knock them over. But if you know that your cat is fond of putting their face next to yours, you can try using that behavior to bond with them.

With my cat, she is very cuddly and bunts at me a lot. So when I pet her, I sometimes lean down and press my forehead against hers. It’s just another way to connect with your cat.

Cats know that humans don’t speak their language, so being able to participate in their body language is super helpful when building a bond with your feline friends. This is a behavior that they know, and if you’re trying to help them out with it, they usually appreciate it.

Head Bunting Versus Head Pressing

cat rubbing a wall

A cat headbutting you is an affectionate behavior, and your cat will most likely look relaxed when they head bunt. They will have relaxed ears and tail, and bigger pupils. If your cat begins pressing their head against objects in an agitated state, or is howling while pressing their head against objects, that is a sign of something serious, perhaps an illness or allergy that’s causing them discomfort.

Cats pressing their heads like this is similar to when humans press their temples during a bad headache. It means that something is causing immense pain in the cat’s skull, and they should immediately be taken to the vet. This kind of behavior can spell something like a brain tumor, or hypertension.

While it’s rare, it does happen. So if your cat is seemingly in pain while rubbing it’s head against things, please call your veterinarian and seek professional help.


Cat headbutting, or head bunting, is largely a good thing. It’s a way for your cat to express how safe it feels with you, and make you a member of it’s family. The next time your cat does this, feel honored that they chose you to love.


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cat headbutting a person's shoe

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