Why do Cats Head Butt?

Our question this week was:

My mother’s cat is now living with my wife, and me. He likes to lay on my chest and kneads. He will also do a lot of head butting why do they do this?

Wayne Green


Hi Wayne– thanks for your email. Sounds like you have an awesome cat. Most people believe that cats will often knead as a “comfort” gesture that cats remember from when they are babies. Nursing kittens use similar paw and arm movements to stimulate milk flow from their mothers’ breasts. A kneady cat is generally a happy cat.

In my experience, cats head butt people they feel comfortable with and love. They also have glands in their foreheads that can secrete and subtle scent – referred to as pheromones. Pheromones allow cats to communicate with each other. Some cats will head butt labeling you as “taken”. When your kitty rubs against you, he is in effect claiming you as his own.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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