Why Does My Cat Rub Up Against Me? My Shoes? Nearly Everything?

Charlie smelling and scratching on the Square Cat Habitat LoWhy Does My Cat Rub Up Against Me? My Shoes? Nearly Everything?

Pheromones are incredibly important to cats. Their bodies have multiple glands that secrete them — on the lips, forehead, flanks, front and back paws, etc. Producing pheromones is one way in which cats mark their territory, as well as how they signal familiarity. When a cat is rubbing up against you, he is leaving a non-offensive scent on you that he finds comforting. Pheromones are used to convey information to different cats, frequently about reproductive status.

Scent has a significant effect on cats. Even for humans, it is one of the strongest senses for reproducing memories. In this way, a familiar smell can calm a cat’s nerves. Since cats are so sensitive to it, they take great joy in rubbing up against you and taking in your comforting scent. Plus, just like humans, they love to snuggle up with someone else.

Everyone has a unique smell to them. Cats are able to pick up on this more easily. They mark their human masters as their own by leaving their unique pheromones on them. Essentially, they claim their owners in the same way we do them: we pledge to do our best to take care of them, tend to their needs, and often times go beyond that, showering them in cat toys.

Cats also tend to rub up against their owners as a form of affection or to get their attention. Maybe she wants you to pet her behind the ears or let her outside. She’ll be sure to let you know. Cats engage in an act called “bunting,” which is when they headbutt you or other cats. It is the feline equivalent of a hug as far as we can tell and pretty darn adorable when it happens.

Have you noticed your cat rubbing on things and marking it with pheromones – please share your experiences in the comments’ section!

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. First, HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all!

    Great article, Jenny! Pink Sugar has been rubbing up against my legs all morning while I’ve been doing chores in the kitchen. I just love it!

    We haven’t seen any bunting from her yet (I do so miss that, as our previous cat Sweet Sora used to do that to us all the time). But she’s still a big kitten in so many ways so that behavior may develop in the future. 🙂

    1. Patti Johnson says:

      Miss Pink Sugarbelle will now head bonk us all over the place! She has marked every single item (and there’s lots of schtuff in this tiny apartment of ours!) in our small place and she is sure to mark any new items that comes in as well! She’s our official Inspector Of All Things New & Different!!!

      She also adores slippers. She lurves to push her head into the opening of my fuzzy slippers and my hubby’s fuzzy slippers. So hilarious when she does that….

      It’s a privilege and honor to be owned by her!!!

      Big hugs!

      Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  2. My cat Eros is like a pinball bouncing off of everything. It’s hysterical. When he walks around he’ll rub on every corner and every object he goes by. (and of course on me) He does this all the time.

  3. This is so sweet! Yes, my girls all do that to me and they also like to mark their favorite sleeping place with rubbing their head all over it to say, “that’s mine and don’t dare sleep there.”
    Had something really funny happen last that that kinda shocked me.
    I was listening to music (Adele) and was singing along. My MC, Mariposa, a rescue who merely tolerates women, came over to me and started to knead on the blanket over my legs. The more I sang, the sweeter she became until she was up in my lap, head butting me and allowing me to rub her which is totally unheard of. As soon as I stopped singing, she went back to her moody ways and gave a hiss when I tried to reach over and touch her again.

    Cats are such a mystery and I’m in awe of them every single day. Does anyone else have a kitty who loves to hear them sing?

    1. My Cleo, who pasted, used to sing with me when I sang Tori Amos songs. He wouldn’t do it to any other songs just those.

    2. Patti Johnson says:

      Awwww, Teresa, what an adorable story about Miss Mari!!! I hope those moments continue to increase between the two of you (especially since she’s been so sick for many weeks and your bond appears to be tighter as she knows you are trying to help her since she’s taking her meds like a trooper)! BIG HUGS!!!! 🙂 <3

  4. Emily is obsessed with my boyfriend’s flip flops. She rolls on them, sleeps on them and loves to put her front legs through the straps. She also loves his feet and will take a nap on then when allowed. He’s well marked and other kitties will always know the he has an owner!

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