As a cat parent you will have realized that your fur babies have some pretty odd behaviors.
Thus, one of the questions you may have asked yourself is, why does my cat headbutt me? What does this mean and why do they do this? Well, it appears that there is more to this gesture than you might imagine.
Not to mention, it can also mean a variety of things, depending on your cat and the behaviors that follow the headbutting. If you want to understand exactly what is behind this gesture, here is what you need to know:
What Does It Mean?
In humans, headbutting can be considered pretty aggressive, but this isn’t the case with cats at all. The first thing to understand is that your cat has scent glands all over their body. This includes the side of their faces. Therefore, when they are headbutting you, there are actually transferring their scent onto you.
Now, some of this does have to do with marking their territory. For the most part, though when your cat headbutts you, he or she is marking you as familiar and trustworthy. It is their way of saying, “this human is alright.”
You may also notice that your cat does this with other cats and even other animals in rare instances. When they do this, it means the same things. It shows that they feel comfortable with these creatures around them and aren’t threatened by them.
In short, when your cat headbutts you or another animal it means:
- they are marking you with a colony scent
- mapping out their safe zones
However, headbutts can mean a variety of things. In some cases, it is an attention seeking behavior. Your cat will headbutt you when they are looking for a specific response. It may be as simple as cuddles or they may want you to tend to another need of theirs.
You can usually tell what your cat wants by watching what they do after they headbutt you. Make sure to respond accordingly to reinforce their trust or affection in you.
Do All Cats Headbutt?
The feline headbutt is something that is seen in nature. As such, it is a normal and common behavior for them. Despite this, it doesn’t mean that every cat will headbutt you. This behavior can vary from one kitty to another.
You may also find that if you have just adopted a cat they may not headbutt you. The same goes for a cat that finds itself in a new environment, like after you have just moved to an unfamiliar residence. Once your cat gets more comfortable, though, the headbutting may resume.
Even if your cat doesn’t headbutt you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are scared or uncomfortable. Like each cat offers up varying levels of affection, some kitties just aren’t prone to bouts of headbutting. Therefore, it isn’t something that you should worry about.
Should I Headbutt My Cat Back?
OK, so you know what the headbutting is all about. Now, what should you do in return? Should you headbutt your kitty back? Will they know what you mean when you mimic their behavior?
In some instances, headbutting your cat back will help to create a stronger bond between the two of you. Once again, though, this does depend on the cat. If you want to see if this is something that your cat will respond to, here is what you can try:
Make Sure They Are Calm
Once your cat is done headbutting you, slowly pick her up or make sure that she is directly positioned in front of you. At this point, check that she is calm and is fine with you interacting with her. If your cat appears agitated or playful, now may not be the best time to reciprocate the headbutt.
Use Your Head Gently
If your kitty is in the right mood, then it is time to proceed with the headbutting. Make sure to do this very, very slowly and incredibly gently. After all, human heads are significantly larger and heavier than cats’ and you don’t want to hurt or scare your cat. Gently press your forehead against theirs and then move away.
Watch the Reaction
Not all cats are going to respond positively to headbutts. Due to this, you need to be sure that your cat appreciates the gesture. This is why you need to watch their reaction carefully. If your cat seems peaceful or even goes back for more headbutts, then you are in the clear.
In case your cat seems annoyed or walks away, then they may not like you headbutting them back. You can try to repeat the gesture at a later time if you want, but it is best to leave it alone for now.
What to Do When She Headbutts and Bites Me?
In some cases, your cat may follow up a headbutt with a gentle nibble. If so, what does this mean and how should you respond?
Remember how sometimes headbutts are attention seeking behavior? Well, the added bite could be to drive your cat’s point home – they want you to focus on them. Sometimes, your kitty may just want to play with you or they may be looking for a few additional pats or butt scratches.
It is also possible that your cat is hungry and wants to be fed. Is the headbutting and biting taking place near their dinnertime? If so, it is your cat’s way of telling you that their food bowl is empty and that situation needs to change.
If it is within your cat’s feeding time, it is a good idea to respond to this behavior by feeding them. Keep in mind, headbutting is all about fostering trust. Therefore, when you feed her, you are reinforcing the idea that you are taking care of her needs. This can help to strengthen your bond and make your cat trust you even more.
There you have it – this is why your cat headbutts you. You also know how to respond in a wide variety of situations. Hopefully, this brings you closer to your kitty and that it teaches them to trust you even more.