head pressing in cats

What is Head Pressing in Cats?

Head pressing is a term used in veterinary medicine to describe a behavior where a cat (or dog) presses their head into something. This article will describe what is head pressing in cats and review the possible causes.

What Does Head Pressing in Cats Look Like?

When a cat head presses, they are generally standing close to a wall, flat surface, corner, or something else with their head facing and touching that surface. Head pressing can occur in age, sex, or breed of cat and has many different potential causes from normal to extremely serious.

When Head Pressing in Cats Can Be Normal

Head pressing in cats can be a normal behavior. Some cats will press their head against your arm or your forehead as a sign of communication. This behavior is commonly known by the name of bunting.
Cats have scent glands in various locations on their bodies and use them to communicate. The glands are located under their chin, corners of their mouth, forehead, ears, between the toes, and along their tails. The scent glands release pheromones. A pheromone is a chemical substance that is considered unique to each cat which can communicate information about their mood or demeanor, identity, sex, and even when the cat was there and potentially which direction he was heading.

Cats can bunt or head press against you, inanimate objects, other pets, as well as other cats using different parts of their body depending on the location, height of the object of interest, and what they want to communicate.

The bunting behavior leaves scent marking on you or objects to help them communicate pleasure or ownership or to other cats as a way to say “hello” in a peaceful manner. One way our cats may communicate their trust and vulnerability to you is to bunt, rub their head to your face, with their eyes open.

Medical Causes Head Pressing in Cats

Head pressing in cats can also be very abnormal. In these cases that head pressing can be against a wall or other surface for a persistent amount of time. Most often, the cat pressing appears to be without obvious enjoyment and sometimes the cat appears to be unaware of their surroundings or that they are doing it. It can also be associated with other clinical symptoms such as trouble walking, blindness, and/or seizures.

There are many possible serious diseases and disorders in cats that can cause head pressing in cats. They include:

Prevention of Head Pressing in Cats

The best way to prevent head pressing in cats that is due to a medical problem may include: