Why Do Cats Headbutt?

Cat headbutting a dog

If you’re lucky enough to have a feline in your life, you may have experienced a cat headbutt, also known as cat bunting. But, why do cats headbutt? It’s a way for them to deposit their pheromones. This behavior can help self soothe, create bonding, and more. Learn more about the meaning of the cat headbutt below with Rescue Vets!

What is Cat Headbutting?

During a cat headbutt, the cat will bump their head against you or an object, and then move to rub their cheek. Whether it’s you, a piece of furniture, or another cat, this signature move is cat bunting.

Reason for Cat Bunting

Why do cats headbutt? They engage in this behavior to help create a colony scent. During this process, they are using some of their scent glands, which are located in their cheeks, lips, forehead, flanks, paw pads and tail, to leave their scent on you or another object. This scent comes from their pheromones, which we can’t smell, but is clear to themselves and other cats. Leaving their scent helps cats with:

  • Marking their owners to create a colony scent
  • Bonding with other cats
  • Mapping their “safe zones”
  • Self-soothing
Cat headbutt

Is Cat Bunting a Sign of Affection?

Cat bunting is more about marking you as part of their safe zone. However, your cat wouldn’t do that if they didn’t trust you and feel safe with you. So, in that way, it can be considered a sign of affection.

Headbutting Between Cats

If you have multiple cats, they may engage in headbutting with each other. This helps create a colony scent, and is also a sign that they feel safe and bonded with each other.

Are Cats Marking Their Territory?

Not in the way many think. They aren’t just claiming something as theirs, but instead creating a scent to indicate that the area is safe.

What if My Cat Doesn’t Headbutt?

Some cats are more likely to engage in bunting than others, so a lack of bunting isn’t necessarily an indicator of a problem. If you’ve just adopted a cat or your cat is in a new environment, it may take some time for them to warm up. Otherwise, as long as your cat seems comfortable, they may not just be big on the headbutts.

Need to schedule an appointment with a Veterinarian?

Please contact Springbrook Animal Care Center.