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Why Do Cats Headbutt? What Does It Mean For Your Cat?

Why Do Cats Headbutt? What Does It Mean For Your Cat?

Among all the weird things cats do, there is an adorable one. You see your cat looking at you intensely, like saying, “come down, you human,” so you obey, and, to your surprise, your cat gives you a headbutt. You wonder, what does that mean? Here we tell you why and some other curious things about cats and headbutts.

The cat headbutt is also called head bunting. This behavior is associated with creating social bonds or colony scent. If your cat headbutts you, that means he trusts you, and he is friendly with you. Also, cats headbutt to mark and exchange scents.

In short terms, cats headbutt due to the following:

  • Bonding with other cats.
  • Marking owners to create a colony scent.
  • Self-soothing.
  • Mapping their safe zones.

Headbutt To Mark And Create A Scent Colony.

Cats have scent glands all over their furry bodies. These glands are located in places like the cheeks, lips, forehead, paw pads, and tail. When cats rub their heads or tails on an object, they leave their scent on that item.

The scent they leave comes from your cat’s pheromones, something we cannot smell but is a clear sign for your cat and others.

This behavior is not marking as some people might think; it is not like cats claim us as theirs when they headbutt us. Cats headbutt us to mark us as a safe zone.

Respect The Rank

The cat with the higher rank is the one that headbutts. Marking by urine is done by subordinate cats as a way to avoid conflict. In a house full of cats, the dominant one with the higher rank is the cat that does the headbutt.


Is A Headbutt A Sign Of Affection?

As mentioned before, a headbutt is more about creating a scent colony, marking safe zones, and self-soothing. But your cat would not do this unless she felt safe and bonded with you.

When a cat headbutts you, it is because they trust you and they feel secure around you. Your cat does this to let you know you are part of her safe zones and create a scent colony, which means they are bonding with you. A headbutt is their way of showing some affection.

So next time your cat headbutts you, you can take it as your cat saying, “I love you, human.”

Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me And Then Bite Me?

When your cat does this unexpected combo, that means she is feeling playful.

Your cat’s bite hurts most of the time, but this is not intentional; it is because she has sharp teeth and claws, so your cat might not seem gentle with you.

This behavior is a way to mark territory; there is no reason to think that when your cat bites you, it is to do you harm. The biting is because when cats get excited, they react suddenly and quickly, and they are not so good at thinking before acting, so their reactions might be shocking.


Should I Headbutt My Cat Back?

If you have seen that your cat likes this behavior, you can try out and headbutt your cat. Do not make any aggressive movements, be slow and gentle and keep attention to your cat’s reaction. Most likely, your cat will return the gesture and headbutt you back.

You might see this as a sign of understanding since you are telling her how you feel about her. But if your cat does not headbutt or does not do it often, avoid this; she might not understand your intentions and may get scared. This action might trigger an unwanted response, like biting and scratching.

Reasons Your Cat Is Headbutting You.

As every cat is different, the reason your cat headbutts you might be completely different than my cat’s. So here you have a few of the reasons cats headbutt people.

Your Cat Wants To Mark You.

Your cat wants to make sure you are part of her scent colony, that you have her scent, so she recognizes you as a safe zone. And also to let other cats know you are part of your cat’s colony.

Your Cat Is Feeling Playful.

Some cats might show they are in a playful mood. When cats are in a playful mood, they tend to react suddenly and quickly, so keep an eye on their teeth and claws.

Your Cat Is Telling You To Come Closer.

When it gets cold outside, your cat might go ahead and headbutt you to get closer to you. This headbutt is a way of telling you she wants to be closer and lay by your side. This is because cats need to be at a warm temperature to feel relaxed and safe.

Your Cat Is Trying To Bond With You.

If your cat starts to headbutt you all of a sudden, it is that she is trying to create a bond with you. This bonding moment does not include just a headbutt; your cat might rub her head and entire body against you.

Your Cat Is Demanding To Be Pet.

Not only dogs are the ones that demand to be petted when they are feeling like it. Cats are more demanding as they behave a little more aggressively when they want to be petted.

Your Cat Demands Attention.

Your cat might headbutt you to seek out attention just because she wants you to look at her and pay her a little attention.


What Does A Headbutt In The Morning Mean?

A headbutt in the morning could mean your cat missed you while you were sleeping during the night; who knows? It is nice to believe that. But the real reason might not be as cute and romantic as you might think.

This behavior in the morning means that your cat needs or wants something; she might want to be fed or go out for a while. Your cat might be excited to see you awake, but it is because she wants something from you soon.

Other Things Cats Headbutt

Headbutts are a way of bonding, creating a scent colony, grooming, and marking places, so it is natural that cats do this not only with you but with other cats and things.

Other Cats And Even Dogs

If you have multiple cats, you probably have seen this. Cats headbutt each other to create a colony scent, to create a bond with the other cat, and as a sign of feeling comfortable and safe.

If you have raised a cat along with a dog since they were babies, the cat might feel comfortable and safe around the loving friend she has seen since early in her life, so your cat will probably headbutt her dog buddy.


In this case, it is not because your cat wants to create a bond with the sofa or tables around the house. Your cat headbutts furniture to recognize that item’s familiarity, to mark territory, so other cats know another cat has already claimed that place.

The headbutt makes that area more comforting and safe for your cat, as other cats will know that area is the safe zone of another cat.

Final Thoughts

If a cat headbutts you, it is normal for most cats, especially the dominant cat in a multiple-cat household, to do this kind of thing.

A headbutt is a way for your cat to tell you they feel safe, loved, comfortable, and relaxed. They are creating a bond with you, but sometimes, like when our cats do that in the morning, they want something from us.

Depending on the mood and the item they headbutt, you will know why they do it and how you should react. It is entirely safe to do a headbutt yourself, but you have to do it slowly and calmly to see your cat’s reaction.

Next time your cat headbutts you, he or she is just telling you how much they appreciate you, and you are a safe place to be.

Has your cat headbutted you before? Have you done it? If yes, what was the reaction of your cat? We would love to read your stories.