The cat’s habit of rubbing the head and face into the owner seems to express emotions and attract more attention. But the animals also do this to furniture, making many people confused.

Hence, when your cat rubs his head against you or demands scratching behind his ears, it’s definitely not just about expressing love.

Some other cats also seem cold and aloof that they are uncomfortable when people touch.

Don’t worry!

Because in any case, you can love your pets properly.

In this article, we will explain wholeheartedly, “why do cats rub their face on you ?” as well as provide solutions for owners to become closer to their pets.

Reasons why cats usually rub their face on people and things

To catch the owner’s attention and show love

When feeling hungry and wanting to attract the owner’s attention, cats often emit “meow” sounds with high volume and rub the side of their face on you. They will guide you on caressing by rubbing where they like to be stroked into your hand.

Notably, when the cat rubs his head on the head or the owner’s face, he will feel more intimate, and that may be what a cat only does if he especially likes you. It is also a sign of belief.

To mark the territory

Like many other animals, cats are covered by pheromone scent glands. They mainly have a vital role in communicating with his species, like mating or territorial ownership. These glands exist primarily to the cats’ tail, one side of the body, and their face.

That’s why cats rub their face on you. However, situations of marking territory do not usually happen with the human. Cats often claw and rub their cheeks more on visible and protruding objects in the house, for example.

To leave scent marks

The scent glands on the cat’s cheeks allow cats to mark the territory and leave smells on objects.

It’s similar to the behavior of the wild cats. They communicate with the herd by rubbing their bodies and heads together so that the smell will help recognize each member as well as the enemy.

When it comes to living with the human, the pets will gradually get acquainted and mix their scent with the owners. It means they accept and want to retain this relationship.

Therefore, when cats lick you and rub their face on you, they do not merely show affection like puppies but deliberately leave their “unique” fragrance on you.

Situation to be careful

However, if your pets rub their head against a wall or floor, you should watch out because they might be suffering from a syndrome called “head pressing.”

Head pressing can cause neurological disorders, including hydrocephalus (brain water), meningitis, encephalitis, stroke, brain tumor, infection, inflammation, and head injury.

Is it normal if your pet doesn’t rub his face on you?

While some cats always rub their face on human, others don’t. They can even scratch and bite when people touch or caress them.

It sounds sad, but if a cat doesn’t rub on you, maybe he doesn’t like you.

There are some reasons for this case. For example, you’ve just adopted a cat, so the animal doesn’t get familiar with the new home. Or maybe you don’t spend much time playing with him and feeding him.

You can improve the situation by establishing the interaction with your pet gradually. To know how to do, read the next section.

If your cat isn’t in the first situation, but he starts to avoid interacting with you, doesn’t rub their face on you as usual, and often hide, there may be a lot of instability in his body. You should bring the cat to see the veterinarians.

Ways to establish interaction with your cat

Be patient

When you’ve just adopted a cat, don’t pounce and start stroking right away. Like human, cats don’t trust strangers.

Start with “safe” positions

On the first days, you’d better start by gently scratching your cat’s ears or head (in the middle area of his ears). Do not rush to caress your pet’s whole body but only his tail until he gets acquainted with you.

Also, each cat likes different types of strokes. Some love to scratch their ears, and some do not allow you to touch those positions. Therefore, you need to try caressing cats in several different areas and observe their reaction to know what they like and dislike.

Let your cat reach you

Most cases of being attacked by cats when people try to caress them are because of misunderstandings in communication. A cat approaching you doesn’t mean he needs you to show affection.

Cats can get close to you just to smell and probe.

When cats want your attention, they will let you know. When staying with your cat, keep doing your work until the pet comes to you and gestures to attract attention.

When he starts to get familiar with you, the cat’s signs include rubbing against your feet, purring, rubbing his head or cheek against you, sitting on your lap, or meowing.

Avoid stroking the cat’s belly

The cat will often lie on his back and look as cute as possible. For many people, this is no different from an invitation of caressing his belly.

However, this is actually a sign that cats are used to you, and they believe that you will not violate their private space. Breaking that belief by stroking the cat’s belly is the fastest way to be bitten and scratched.

Although some cats really like the owners to caress their stomachs, most cats don’t like it.

Use a comb

Cats who do not like to be caressed by hands may prefer to be brushed. In this case, let’s choose a comb specially designed for cats and observe their reaction when you clean them instead of stroking with a hand.


Once being familiar with you, through body language such as rubbing his face on you, your cat will tell you that he likes you. Understanding “why do cats rub their face on you?” will help you determine how comfortable your cat is with you. For further tips on pet care, don’t hesitate to let us know or visit our website. Please like and share the article with others if it’s useful. Thank you.



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