The Cat Headbutt and What it Means

As a cat owner, you will have noticed your cat displaying all different types of behavior. As you have watched them doing a range of different activities or making strange sounds, you will most probably have wondered why they do certain things and what they are trying to express through their behavior. Understanding your cat’s behavior can take a while as you must observe them over time and connect each of the activities with a different situation or emotion. One behavior that you will probably notice your cat displaying is cat headbutting.

What is Cat Headbutting and What Does It Mean?

Officially, this behavior is called cat bunting and involves the cat repeatedly banging the top or side of their head into your body. The main reasons why cats headbutt is for social and bonding purposes. They have glands all over their body that they use to leave their scent. When they headbutt, they are leaving their scent on you.

Headbutting is a sign of affection as they are displaying trust by putting their face so close to you. Sometimes people think that the cat is doing this to mark its territory. However, it is also done as a means of affection and a sign of respect. Some cats also do this as a way of seeking attention. If you have several cats and you are showing one more affection, the other may approach you and start headbutting you as a way of getting your attention so you will also give them affection.

Do They Headbutt Other People?

Some cats will reserve their headbutting for their owners as a sign of affection. However, others will show affection towards strangers they like. Some cats will also headbutt other cats that they consider as their friends, such as other cats living in the same household. How often a cat headbutts and who they headbutt is generally down to personality differences in cats.

Do All Cats Headbutt?

Again, the different personalities of a cat will dictate how often they headbutt and even if they headbutt at all. There are some that do not do this at all and use other ways to show their affection and express their feelings. Think of headbutting as like cuddles in humans. Some humans reserve their cuddles for their partner and children, while other people are very tactile and will cuddle everyone they meet. Others have difficulty cuddling anyone at all, even their partners, as they simply do not like touching and having their space invaded.

Is There a Difference Between Headbutting and Head Pressing?

People often mistake headbutting and head pressing, but these are two completely different behaviors. With headbutting, the cat pushed their head against a person or another cat. This is perfectly normal and is a sign of affection. You do not need to see a vet about cat headbutting.

Head pressing is completely different. The cat will relentlessly press their head against the furniture or walls. When they are doing this, they will usually make strange noises that sound different to the noises they usually make. Head pressing is concerning behavior as it is usually a symptom of a problem with the central nervous system. This means there is something wrong with the cat’s brain.

Obviously, this is a serious cause for concern and is something that means you will need to visit your vet with the cat for further investigation. It can help if you use your cell phone to video the cat head pressing so you can show the vet during your consultation. The vet will need to examine the test and will probably conduct further tests as part of the investigation to make an accurate diagnosis.

Should I Stop the Headbutting?

Cat headbutting is harmless and will not cause pain or injury. It is not like humans headbutting. This behavior is perfectly natural and is simply a sign of affection, respect, trust, and bonding. Therefore, there is no need to try and stop a cat form headbutting and it is certainly not a behavior that is a cause for concern. If your cat is headbutting you and it is getting on your nerves, simply move away from the cat so they can no longer headbutt you.

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