General Question

Jude's avatar

Why do kitties feel the need to rub up against our legs?

Asked by Jude (32126points) June 2nd, 2010

And, why do they, at times, give you a face-butt…

I remember reading that he or she is “marking” you. Is that true? Is that the only reason?

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29 Answers

syz's avatar

It’s a form of social interaction. Dogs wag their tail and sniff, cats mark and rub (much more sensual creatures than dogs, aren’t they?)

tinyfaery's avatar

Cats have some sort of gland in their neck area that secretes a happy hormone (I’m not sure it’s a hormone) that acts as a way to claim that what they mark is part of thier domain. You can think of it as marking territory, but I see it as the cat marking you as family.

Cat butt in the face is such a treat. It means they trust you. Kitty is offering up his best part for you to get to know him.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

They have to wipe their mouth on something! I think it means they love you…at least that’s what I tell myself when they are wiping their mouths on me—lol—

Jude's avatar

@tinyfaery Oops. What I meant to say was head butt. I’d be chillin’ out on my stomach on the floor, and my boy would come right at me (at a pretty good clip) and smash his head into mine. This sometimes followed by him gently biting my chin.

syz's avatar

@jjmah It’s not just the little kitties. Tigers will head butt so hard, you can hear the thump. But only to mates, siblings, or someone that they are close to and trust.

Jude's avatar

@syz awww…=)

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s a greeting. I love kitty head butts.

aprilsimnel's avatar

They play with their siblings that way as kittens, too, don’t they? Aw, Kitteh is saying you’re family!

whatthefluther's avatar

I’ve begun calling my cat “Tommy head-butter”. He’s begun to do it to Sherry, as well (much to her delight).
See ya…..Gary/wtf

stratman37's avatar

I don’t know, but it drives me nuts! Not only do they leave hair on your nice pants, but slobber too.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s their way of making territory: rubbing chairs ( my chair ), rubbing tables ( my table ), rubbing people ( my person ). It’s really quite a compliment! : D

jazmina88's avatar

I had a cat that body slammed into me. Mikey.

venus was gentle…and always slept on top.

gailcalled's avatar

Whenever I am out too long for his Royal Magnificence’s liking, upon my return, he marks me and everything else available.

I have a 3000 sq/foot house. He finds me; bathroom, exercising, trying to do desk work (hard with an 11 lb. cat sitting on my check book), down at the computer (hard with an 11 lb. cat sitting on the keyboard) and in bed at 3:00AM.

CMaz's avatar

By applying their scent, they take ownership of you.

That makes them feel “happy” and secure.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

By applying their scent, they take ownership of you.

“Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.”

netgrrl's avatar

Yep. And then when they start cleaning you, that’s the ultimate compliment. (But it sure feels rough.)

CaptainHarley's avatar

My little Skuttles apparently use to think that the buttons on my shirt were like burrs in my “fur.” I had to keep gently pulling him away from them or he would gnaw the thread to the point where the buttons would fall off! Then he would look at me as if to say, “There! Another burr gone!” : D

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I think it’s a form of greeting. When I come into the house, the two Persians do the leg-rubbing, head-butting thing. The sandpaper tongue on the hand thing means “it’s time for our brushing, get off your lazy butt”. Then they fight over who gets brushed first.

nebule's avatar

what a cute lovely question! I am now enlightened xxx

primigravida's avatar

They love you and they want to claim you by putting their scent on you. I always love when my cat does this when I’ve been gone all day. :)

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@primigravida My puppy does it, too. It always makes me happy. :-)

Val123's avatar

Nothing sweeter than an old cat who’s mean as hell, greeting you happily when you get back from a trip!

Jabe73's avatar

I think like several other people said, something to do with marking you and trusting you. I just found a stray kitten outside my home 2 weeks ago (1st pet I have had in 2 years) and she does this stuff all the time to me.

ava's avatar

they are claiming you as their own with their scent.

CaptainHarley's avatar


She loves you and trusts you and depends upon you. It’s quite a compliment when a cat loves you. : )

breedmitch's avatar

They’ve learned that your leg never reaches out and grabs them. It’s marking, yes, but without the risk of being touched back.

Ike head butts like crazy, but he’s only got one eye, so I have to forgive him. I’ve been told the headbutt means “You’re Mine!”

CaptainHarley's avatar

The head-butt is a common way for cats to greet other cats with whom they are on good terms. He’s greeting you as a good friend. : ))

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

It is a very odd phenomenon. Can’t imagine what they would rub on in the wild, or if they would even do that. I always though it was just to get my attention.

TheRealGodzilla's avatar

Kitty is trying to turn you on. Git down!

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