Table of contents:

Why do cats rub on things?
Why do cats rub on things?

Cats rub against people, other cats, and things for a variety of reasons. These depend on the context and the object, or being, on which they are rubbing. We see because cats rub on things.

Release of odors

Cats possess numerous odoriferous glands, at the base of the tail, on the hips, in the legs, but especially in various points of the head such as the forehead, cheeks, chin, around the mouth, ears and neck. These glands produce pheromones, i.e. chemicals that possess a unique smell and particular in every cat, and that humans are unable to perceive. When a cat rubs against an object, then, releases its smell. The gesture of rubbing the face on an object is called Buntingwhen it uses the whole body, from head to tail, it is called Head-butting. The release of odors on objects, people or other animals is a means of communication between cats. Through smells, in fact, cats can communicate many things, including their identity, when the smell was left and also their reproductive state.

Mark the territory

When a cat rubs itself on something it does brand with its smell claiming it as his territory. In a family environment where there are multiple cats, other cats often stop to smell the various objects and rub themselves on them in turn. This mixture of odors creates a group smell which is familiar and comforting for all the cats in the house. For the same reason, if your cat rubs on you, it fits marking with its smell. You may also notice that when you come home after several hours, your cat has a habit of immediately rubbing on you. This is not just a a sign of affection, but also serves a deposit a familiar smell on you and to store information through the smells that you have brought with you from the outside.


Means to avoid conflicts

Cats sometimes rub surfaces for inform other cats of their presence nearby. Releasing your own smell can also be a kind of time stamp, this means that other cats may be able to determine when another cat has been to that particular place. If the brand is relatively recent, and therefore has a more intense smell, cats that smell it may move away to avoid conflicts. Some cats rub on objects when they are anxious, this is because spreading their smell can be a way to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.

Means of communication


The gesture of rubbing can actually have different meanings depending on the context in which it is carried out:

  • If your cat rubs on you around feeding time, it is very likely urging you to feed it.
  • Rubbing on objects is also a way in which sexually intact cats provide directions to other cats during mating season. Males, during this period, are generally more interested in the odors released by females, this is because during the heat phase, the smell of females changes to attract the interest of males.
  • Cats, in addition to rubbing themselves on objects and people, can also rub themselves on other cats. This usually happens only if the two specimens know each other and are in extreme confidence. For this reason, for example, a cat rubbing against another cat, can express a desire to be licked, and likewise, rubbing on you can be a request for cuddles and scratchers.