A cat will frequently rub on certain protruding objects in her territory by using the scent glands on her head and around her mouth. Some of her favorite spots may be doorways, bedposts, lamp shades, table legs, chairs or even your legs. By depositing facial pheromones on these objects within her territory it appears to provide her with comfort. Rubbing reflects a positive emotion, whereas scent marking done with spraying most usually indicates a perceived threat.

As rubbing is a friendly social behavior, many cats who live in multi-cat households together will allorub (mutual rubbing) and allogroom (mutual grooming) quite often. As a way to reinforce a familiar “family” scent cats in the same household will often rub each other in passing. When your cat comes up to you and rubs her head against your face this is a behavior called bunting. Bunting is a gesture of family acceptance and love. She’ll rub along your nose and chin, engaging in this behavior which began as a kitten when she’d rub around her mother’s head seeking to nurse. Purring will often accompany the rubbing behavior. Sometimes she may even become so carried away that she will open her mouth slightly, exposing more of her lips and may even drool. Remember that this is a loving compliment that your cat is paying to you so don’t get irritated the next time your cat butts you in head.

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