why does my cat headbutt me: sphynx cat headbutting owner

Why does your cat headbutt you?

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Why does my cat headbutt me?

By Zoë Monk Content Writer

Published on the

Does your cat like to headbutt you, but you’re unsure what it means? The good news is that headbutting is an adorable feline expression of affection.

Headbutting in the human world is not considered the done thing, but in the cat world, headbutting is something entirely different. If you’re lucky to be a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with this quirky feline body language of having their little head pressed against your forehead, leg or arm. But rather than being a sign of aggression, it’s a sign of affection.

What are cat headbutts?

A cat headbutt, or head bunting, is when a cat presses or rubs its head against you or an object. This involves the cat making contact with the area around its forehead or face, and the cat will usually repeat the gesture. As cats have scent glands on their heads, headbutting helps them to leave their scent on you. While you can’t detect these pheromones your cat leaves behind, a cat will consider you marked. So, why does my cat headbutt me?


Cats may rub their heads on inanimate objects like their cat tree or your furniture to mark their territory and create a safe space. Similarly, cats also mark familiar people, signalling that they’ve accepted you into their inner circle. By rubbing their scent on you, your cat connects with you, signalling that you are their people. 


Cat bunting is a sign of affection in the feline world. It’s a way for your cat to show that they trust you and feel comfortable in your presence. In addition to scent marking, cats rub their cheek against you as another way to express love and connection.


Cats seem to enjoy rubbing their face on things and headbutting, and it’s often a sign that they feel happy and relaxed. Therefore, rubbing against something with no one else involved may be a way for your cat to soothe themselves, similar to kneading with their paws.

Seeking attention

Cats can use headbutting as a way to get attention. Presenting their head to you is their way of asking for strokes. If you consistently give your cat attention after headbutting, it will likely encourage them to do it more.

Colony scent

Headbutting is a way for cats to create a colony scent in multiple cat households. Through head-to-head contact, cats exchange pheromones that create a shared scent, promoting harmony within the group and reducing potential territorial tensions to create a more integrated feline household.

Why does my cat headbutt my phone?

Cats are drawn to scents, and your phone will likely carry your scent from regular handling. Cats also seek attention or affection, and may think your phone is a diversion from them. By headbutting your phone, your cat expresses a desire for interaction or to mark you with their scent and a subtle attempt to redirect your focus onto them.

Should I headbutt my cat?

When your cat presses their head against yours, you may wonder whether you should headbutt them back. There’s no harm in gently offering your head to them to see if they’d like to bump it, but keep an eye on your cat’s body language to see whether they are happy with the interaction. Some cats may like it, others may not.

Do all cats headbutt?

Not all cats headbutt, so if your cat doesn’t headbutt, it doesn’t mean they don’t have affection for you. Like humans, cats are all different and have their preferred way of showing love; for some, this is cat headbutting. Other cats may express their affection through purring or slow-blinking, while others prefer to sit on your lap or rub against your legs. 

When your cat headbutts, it’s a combination of scent marking, seeking attention and showing affection. It’s a unique form of feline communication that enhances your bond with your feline friend. So the next time your cat presses their head against you, enjoy the fact that you’ve been officially marked with a special scent that signifies their love and trust.

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