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Cats can be unpredictable pets who sometimes love to be around you or will sometimes run away from you. You may have noticed your cat rubbing their head and body against your feet and probably wondered if they were in the mood to play or just bored. But this has a specific term and reason; it is called Headbutting and cats do it when they want to mark you and it is a sign of you being a part of their social group.
A few reasons why cats might be doing this are:
1. Marking their territory - When your cat is comfortable around you, to them you become a part of their group and that is why they leave their scent on you so that other cats and animals know that you belong to them.
2. Displaying affection - When your cat likes you, they will want to be around you more and will show their affection towards you. One of the ways they might do that is by rubbing their heads against your legs. It’s another way for your cat to tell you that they love you.
3. Stress - Sometimes when your cat is stressed out, they might try to find a way to help them calm themselves and if you are someone they like, they might try to be around you and release their stress by rubbing their head and cheek against your legs.
4. Showing appreciation - When your cat is grateful for what you have done for them like giving them their food, teats etc. they might start rubbing themselves on your legs as a way to express appreciation.
5. Greeting another cat or person - When cats greet another cat by rubbing their heads against each other, this form of headbutting is known as allorubbing. Cats also greet a person they like by rubbing their head and cheek against the person’s legs.
To show your cat that you appreciate their gesture and want to thank them for making you a part of their group, you need to make sure that your gesture is something your cat is comfortable with. This can be patting their head, scratching their chin or even talking to them calmly and sweetly. But make sure your cat is comfortable with the gesture otherwise it will result in you getting scratched or hissed at.
Cats only headbutt when they feel comfortable around you, so shooing them away will only cause your cat more discomfort.
At times people confuse headbutting with head pressing but these 2 are completely different.
Headbutting is when a cat shows affection and gratitude by rubbing its head against your legs, this is a positive action. Whereas head pressing means when a cat is banging its head against a hard surface for no particular reason, this can be because of an underlying medical issue.
Head Pressing can be a sign of a neurological disease, tumour, metabolic disorder, or infectious disease such as rabies. If a cat is showing these signs by head pressing against a hard surface, it is necessary to take them to the vet as soon as possible.