why do cats rub against you and stuff?

Why Do Cats Rub Against You and Other Things?


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Every cat lady and lad knows the feeling. You’ve just walked in the door and your cat runs through your legs, rubbing the full length of its body on you before twirling its tail around your ankle. This lifts the heart and begs the question – why do cats rub against you and rub their faces on things in general?

Is it the ultimate ‘welcome home’ or ‘I like the ways this thing feels’? Or is there more to this common cat body language? Let’s find out.

Cats are great communicators

Cats are incredible communicators. Let’s just say if they had to join a human profession, it’d be communications, content or marketing or some such.

Given their playground is the home and garden, their comms are primarily directed at other cats, animals and, of course, you. The #1 secret weapon in a cat’s communication toolkit is its sense of smell. Let’s just say their nose knows!

Fact: Cats have up to 200 million smell sensing cells in their nose, whereas humans have just 5 million. Compared to cats, it's like we humans have perpetually blocked noses. 

Fact: Cats also have a scent organ in their mouth known as Jacobson's organ (or the vomeronasal organ) that adds to their smelling superpowers! They open their mouth and wrinkle their noses when they're using it to smell. 
cats rub against you to leave a scent trail

So why do cats rub their faces on things?

To answer why cats rub against you is simple: they’re scent-marking. Cats have scent producing glands in their cheeks, heads, chin, paws and base of their tails. They use these to scent-mark everything in their territory. That of course includes you. But this isn’t the only reason they do it.

Here’s a fairly full list of reasons cats rub their faces and bodies on things (like you):

  • To say hello!
  • To show they care about you and you’re part of their pride
  • Territorial scent-marking
  • To read new scents for valuable info (like a new visitor or household item, for example)
  • Show you when they’re hungry or need something (read about how to speak cat)
  • Because they’re ill or injured

A cat’s scent needs to be reapplied every so often – especially on you when you’ve been out and are now covered in alien smells. That’s why your cat rubs against you first thing when you get through the door.

Check out these adorable clips of cats marking up the people they love the most:

Why do cats rub against you when they’re sick?

If you’re still wondering ‘why do cats rub against you’ because kitty is doing so excessively and you’ve noticed other behaviour changes, they could be expressing they need attention because they’re sick or in pain. Look for changes such as overgrooming, hair loss and gastro. Understand cat behaviour and know your cat will help you notice any other odd behaviour that’s out of the ordinary.

Several health concerns can be behind these changes and your cat’s excessive rubbing. Cat allergies, ear infections, feline hypersensitivity disorder, parasites and intracranial disease can all be culprits. Thankfully award winning pet insurance from PD Insurance can help cover a range of vet visits for illnesses and injuries and many associated treatment costs.

Click below to get a quote.

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