Why Do Cats Head Nudge?

My cats bunked in with my son last week when our house flooded from Hurricane Sandy. One of our cats, Lily, a striped tiger tabby who tends to be the most affectionate of the bunch, enjoyed the new room more than Cleo and Baby did. They didn’t mind the change of scenery, but Lily liked the chance to sleep with my son at night. Even more than that, she loved being able to constantly give him little head nudges.

It’s cute whenever she comes close to our heads and gives a slight head butt and the rubs her face around our necks. Although when she does it while we are sleeping (as did to my son last week), it’s not as fun.

I just always assumed that it was love nudge, the equivalent of a human hug for a feline, but there is more to it than just that.

Over at Vestreet, Dr. Meghan E. Herron explains why cats do this:

“Cats do this to deposit facial pheromones on people or objects in their environment. The head butting is actually something that we call bunting. Rather than territorial marking or ‘claiming’ someone, as is commonly thought, cats do this to mark something as safe — sort of like leaving a signal of comfort and safety. So you could think of it as a sign that they are ‘trusting’ that person or environment.”

Not every cat does this. Only one out of three of mine do. Like people, cats have different degrees of affection and warmth.

Does your cat headbutt?

Image: Flickr/ mattlach


Follow Danielle on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest (where she maintains an ‘Adorable Pups’ board), or find her at her blog, Just Write Mom and Babble’s Strollerderby.


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