The manifestations of affection of cats towards the humans with whom they live and appreciate are really curious. Surely on more than one occasion when you return home your kitten has come to greet you and has rubbed his head against your legs, then his back and, finally, his tail in what looks like a cordial hug.
It is inevitable not to pet your pet in the face of such a show of cordiality, but is it really a greeting ritual? The truth is that many of us usually interpret it as an expression of affection and we reciprocate with a caress and / or food. In this post we will discover whether or not we are wrong.
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The vomeronasal organ and marking
Have you heard of the Jacobson’s organ? Also known as the vomeronasal organ, it is a small tube located between the roof of the palate and the nasal passage that houses cells specialized in collecting olfactory information to later transmit it to the brain. This is how cats know their environment and communicate with it.
In fact, the importance of smell in these animals is crucial. When they are born blind and deaf, smell is their only means of contact with the environment in which they live. This, together with their strong sense of ownership of the territory that they like and in which they live safely, gives rise to olfactory marking.
Cats only mark what produces well-being and security . They do it with the objects, people and animals that make up this space. By marking them, they are trying to convey to the rest of the peers that these elements belong to their area and that, therefore, they refuse to approach them. Otherwise, they will have to defend themselves.
When your cat walks between your legs and rubs against them he is marking you to tell the world that you are familiar to him and that he wants you in his group because he feels safe and comfortable next to you. Therefore, our hypothesis that he is greeting us and showing his affection is not entirely wrong.
Felines secrete familiarization pheromones through sebaceous glands located in the temporal area of the head (between the eyes and ears), on the cheeks, in the area around the mouth, on the foot pads, on the loin and in the anal and genital glands .
When the smell of the marking disappears, your kitten will rub itself again to re-identify you as part of its community. Likewise, cats that live in the same house groom each other and rub their heads in an attempt to create a common scent that identifies them as part of the same group.
Do you know that these familiarization pheromones reduce the occurrence of other types of markings? By identifying as familiar everything that the cat likes, he does not feel the need to mark it, for example, with urine.
Such is their value that synthetic analogues of these pheromones are marketed on the market to keep urine markings under control, for example, when the male cat goes into heat . They are also very useful to facilitate the adaptation of a new cat to the home. That mutual self-knowledge between the kittens will thus be shorter and easier.
Should you be concerned if there is no marking?
As we say, felines mark what satisfies their need for security. Therefore, if there have been changes in your world, such as, for example, a guest has come to your house, you have changed the location of your toilet tray, furniture or you have moved, the marking will not take place, it does not make sense because it does not the conditions are in place for it.
What’s more, their discomfort and confusion will lead to elusive behavior, compulsive grooming in an attempt to mitigate their anxiety or lack of appetite . If this behavior is accompanied by irritability and persistent meows, you should not delay visiting the vet to rule out the presence of any disease.
Excessive marking, on the other hand, can be indicative of a state of stress and anxiety that should be treated. At the opposite extreme, it may happen that when visiting a friend your cat approaches you and rubs against your legs. Clearly, you can be flattered that he is telling you that he likes you.
Feed their well-being
As you can see, that your pussycat approaches you purring and rubbing against your legs and, even, it seems that it makes small jumps with its front legs is a positive and healthy behavior. Do not hesitate to correspond with what you like the most.
Remember that the time you spend with your cat playing, talking to him, taking care of him or simply staying by his side is well valued by your pet . If you want to live with a happy cat for many years, do not neglect everything related to cognitive stimulation and emotional well-being. Your kitty will know how to thank you.