For felines, smell plays a predominant role from birth. When they are born deaf and blind, smell allows them to recognize their mother and siblings to stay close to them and protect themselves. In this sense, marking their property and identifying those with whom they live becomes essential for their psychological well-being.
If you wonder why does my cat rub his face against mine? You must pay attention to the meaning of said marking, as well as to the multiple manifestations of his body language that point to the affection he professes for you. We are going to discuss all of this in the following lines. Do not miss the opportunity to learn more about the social dynamics of cats.
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Marking in cats, meaning and types
Pussycats are territorial animals and, therefore, they instinctively need to make it clear to other conspecifics that the territory in which they live is their property. We refer to both the space itself and everything it contains, that includes you as well. The marking pursues 2 objectives:
- Consolidate your property so that your peers do not litigate for it.
- Identify and recognize your life partners by impregnating them with your body odor and creating a common community odor. In this way, all the marked animals and humans belong to the same family circle.
The vomeronasal organ
Also called the Jacobson’s organ, this duct located in the roof of the palate is equipped with hundreds of millions of sensory cells specialized in detecting and classifying chemicals that are suspended in the air. The vomeronasal organ makes it possible for the cat to orient itself and to relate to its environment.
Through this organ he will know that it is you, the human with whom he shares his territory and who provides him with food and a good dose of affection and play. For a harmonious and solid coexistence you must understand that the cat always plays a dominant role in deciding when it wants to approach you to claim your attention.
The kittens mobilize different types of marking depending on the purpose they pursue. Thus, in the context that concerns us, felines use odorous and visual marking to show their territoriality and identify their companions:
- Odorous marking. They rub their face to release the pheromones that they harbor between each eye and each ear and around the mouth. Likewise, when it comes to cats that already know each other, they usually rub their faces and loins in greeting. You will notice that their tails also tend to intertwine, since at the base of these pheromones are also released.
- Visual marking. For example, they scratch furniture to make it clear that they are their property without forgetting that the scent glands of the pads allow them to sweat and thus mark everything they step on.
In other situations they resort to scent marking for reproductive purposes or to recover emotionally. In the first case, they will rub their genitals and urinate. If they are stressed, they will rub against objects to impregnate them with the pheromones that they release through the lips, cheeks and chin. In this way, they manage to calm down.
Observe their body language
Experts agree that the behavior of rubbing the face against that of its owner has a similar meaning to rubbing against the human’s legs . In both cases, we are faced with a manifestation of marking by considering the marked being a non-dangerous and trustworthy being who deserves to carry their body odor.
The repetition of this ritual, for example, every time you return home results in the need to stay within his family circle, because he feels comfortable by your side and he finds it necessary. Likewise, if you have caressed another animal in the street, you will know it through the Jacobson’s organ.
Rubs you and heads you
Sometimes this behavior of rubbing his face against yours is accompanied by repetitive head-butting. The more insistent they are, the more evident it will be that he trusts you and appreciates you. You should reciprocate with a caress on the head. It will be the way to respond to him with the same code so that he receives your love.
Rubs your nose
Rubbing his nose against yours is his particular way of greeting you. They also do it among congeners and with other animals such as dogs. If they do not know each other, in addition to a courtesy greeting, it is a means of gathering information about that stranger . If it occurs between animals that already live together, it will be a greeting, not a show of affection.
Rubs you and meows
In this case, your pet is expressing your belonging to his community and at the same time trying to get your attention to help him. As we discussed at the entrance My cat meows a lot, what happens? The reasons can be very varied: that you feed it, claim your company, that you change the litter of the litter tray, etc.
As you can see, in the social logic of felines, rubbing their face or body against another represents the way to mark it as theirs because they consider it valuable. Therefore, every time your pet behaves like this with you, do not repair affection towards her. It will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen your bond, don’t you think?