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Why Do Cats Rub Against You? What Does It Mean?

Why Do Cats Rub Against You? What Does It Mean?

Cats are very aware creatures. The way they seek information and understand what is around them is through their senses. Although cats have multiple ways to use their senses, they rely primarily upon their sense of smell. In addition, our furry friends have numerous scent glands that secrete pheromones all over their bodies. These glands are located in their cheeks, paw pads, tails, foreheads, and many more places.

Cats are susceptible and sensitive animals. The way our cats interact with their surroundings is extraordinary. Our cats use their senses to understand what is around them; rubbing is one of them. Rubbing against their owners could mean many things like ownership, seeking information, and more.

Why Do Cats Rub Against You? Is it love or something else?


The general idea is that cats are not sensitive and loving creatures because they are not as explicit in showing affection as dogs. Our cats’ signs of affection might be subtle, but that does not mean they aren’t affectionate. Cats are very sensitive creatures.

Our furry friends love to rub their bodies against their owners. Cats love to do this because this is the way they can establish multiple things. Next, we will explain the different things your cat could be showing by rubbing their bodies against you and other objects.

Cats like to mark ownership or belongings. For example, the movement cats make when they rub themselves against you is a way to say that you are their property, that you belong to them. Our cats do this by transferring their essence or scent to us through their glands.

With all the rubbing and the transferring of the scent, your cat is claiming you as their property. Also, your cat wants to have your full attention, so our furry friend does the rubbing in particular situations. We may find this disturbing, especially when we read the part about us being “their property,” but most owners feel that this action is a way for the cat to show affection.

Cats are curious creatures. Cats like to seek information from their environment and understand what is around them. Our furry friends rely heavily on their sense of smell. Cats group their surroundings by rubbing their glands on everything close to them and transferring their scent. By sharing their scent, cats can put things in groups and identify them as their own.

The scent your cats share with their environment is called affiliation behavior. Affiliative behavior is the way your cat creates a connection with a group of things or individuals. Our cats understand that if something shares their scent, there is no reason to feel scared about it.

Our feline friends are not as lonely as we think they are. Cats like to live in communities or packs. Usually, cats share their scent with other cats that are part of their pack or group by rubbing their bodies and heads with each other.

When the rubbing of their bodies and heads transfers to their humans, cats make you part of their tribe or pack. The rubbing is a way of communication and a welcoming gesture from your cat to their group. Experts suggest that if a cat does not like you, they will avoid performing this gesture.

We could answer the second part of our heading’s question (is it love or something else?) with an ”it depends.” It could mean a sign of love and acceptance, but it could also mean seeking information.

What Does It Mean When A Cat Rubs Against You And Purrs?

The purring of cats still puzzles experts, mainly because they do not understand how cats produce this purr. Some experts claim that purring is how cats communicate when they are happy, at peace, or content. Others believe that purring is a healing mechanism that cats have and use when they are injured. The purring is a way to calm themselves and help their bodies to heal. Regardless of the different opinions, you can safely say that it shows affection towards you if your cat is rubbing you and purring simultaneously.

Another reason why we can say purring and rubbing is a sign of affection is because cats purr when they are grooming themselves and other cats.

How Do Cats Show Affection?


No matter what people might think, cats are as affectionate as dogs. The only difference is that a cat’s signs of affection tend to be more subtle. Our furry friends have many ways to show love, and in this section, we will present some of them.

  • Tail movement: When your cat moves their tail around or near you, they show acknowledgment of your presence.
  • Vocalization: the purring was covered in the previous section, but meowing is another way cats express their affection. Cats use their meowing to call for your attention and to make sure you are aware of them.
  • Greetings: when you get home after a long day of work, if your cat rushes towards the door to see you, it is an excellent display of affection. In general, it is acceptable to assume that when your cat receives you at the door and mixes it with a lot of meowing, it means that it is exceptionally affectionate toward you.
  • Eye contact: Cats love eye contact. They show love by staring at you directly and giving you their full attention. Directly staring at someone might not be the best in the human world, but cats stare and pay attention to things that matter to them. In addition, cats are known for giving “eye kisses,” this is when they stare at you directly and slowly close their eyes at you. This is a sign of trust and love.
  • Grooming: cats are neat and tidy animals. Grooming is something that they enjoy. If your furry friend feels comfortable enough to let you be part of the grooming, that is an indication of just how much they love you. The ultimate gesture for cats showing affection is when they use their tongue to lick their owners as if they were cleaning their fur.
  • Pawing and biting: this one might not sound as fun as the other ones, but this is also a sign of affection.

Do Cats Show Affection By Rubbing Against You?


Cats show affection with cheek rubs. Remember that we mentioned earlier that cats have glands on their cheeks. They use these glands to share their scent with you and making you know they feel you are important to them. The cheek rubs can be considered the first steps to socialization for a cat. By releasing pheromones through those cheek glands, cats mark ownership and friendship.

Another way that cats show affection is with head bunting. It follows the same principles as cheek rubbing. Again, it is a transfer of pheromones that claims ownership.


Cats are compassionate and magnificent creatures. In their way of showing affection, cats are not as obvious as dogs, but they do express their affection. Cats are good at communicating what they want and also who they like. Cats use a wide variety of gestures to show appreciation. As we mentioned in this article, some gestures are head and cheek rubbing, grooming, purring, meowing, and many more. All of these gestures are a way to show affection and love.

Knowing that the rubbing and sharing of scent is an expression of your cat’s love, you can reward them by petting them the moment they get close and rub on you. By doing so, you will also share your scent with them.