What Does It Mean When a Cat Rubs Against Your Leg?

Trying to understand a cats behavior can be downright maddening. Oftentimes, feline actions are dictated by stress and fear but fortunately, one cat behavior in particular usually comes from a good, friendly place. When your cat rubs up against your legs or pushes his head against you, its a very positive sign.

Cats are very olfactory creatures that rely heavily on their sense of smell to give them information about their environment, says Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a resident in Animal Behavior at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass. When meeting someone for the first time, a friendly cat may rub up against the visitor in greeting and as a way to get information about the new person, like where they come from and if they have animals of their own, says Borns-Weil.

How do you know if a cat likes you?

One of the most convincing signs your cat loves you is her being happy to snooze on your lap. As a natural hunter, your cat doesn’t like to feel vulnerable – and is especially wary of feeling this way while asleep. By sleeping on you, she’s exposing herself at her most defenceless, and showing her trust for you.

What does it mean when a cat circles you and rubs its body against you?

Essentially, she’s marking you with her own individual smell and communicating to the rest of the world — especially to other cats — that you are her property, and her property alone. Yikes! Although the action is indeed sweet, remember that she is claiming you to prevent others from doing the same thing.

How can you tell if a cat has imprinted on you?

When cats don’t feel threatened by other cats, they will show affection by rubbing on them, sleeping near them, and being in their presence. If your cat replicates those behaviors with you, Delgado says it has officially imprinted on you. They rub against you.

Including his crazy response to catnip, the shape he takes when he’s frightened and, of course, his habit of rubbing against you and your guests. When it comes to that last one, there’s an explanation that may help you better understand your cryptic cat.

Almost all cat owners have experienced this. Upon arriving home, cats receive their owners with a greeting ritual in which they first rub against the owner’s ankles with their head, then with their flank and finally with their tail that wraps the leg of the person as in an embrace. At this point, cats usually look upwards towards the owner and rub again while purring, often making small jumps with the front paws. It is nice to be greeted like this and most owners take the opportunity to stroke their cats.

One of the benefits of working at home as a freelance writer is spending more time with my cats but countless times, they have messed up my typing and even accidentally shut off my computer by rubbing their faces and butting their heads on my hands. So, what gives? Why do cats rub against you?

Looking for Information

Cats are very olfactory creatures that rely heavily on their sense of smell to give them information about their environment, says Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a resident in Animal Behavior at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass.When a cat rubs or pushes its head against you, also known as head butting or bunting, the cat is also marking you with his scent in a show of affiliation, Borns-Weil says. Affiliative behaviors serve to maintain a connection within a group of individuals. Head rubbing is a cat’s way of marking its people and its environment and grouping them together with the same scent.When meeting someone for the first time, a friendly cat may rub up against the visitor in greeting and as a way to get information about the new person, like where they come from and if they have animals of their own, says Borns-Weil. Whether or not this type of behavior serves as an invitation for affection varies from cat to cat, however.“Some cats don’t want to be petted but want information from you,” Borns-Weil says. In other words, don’t assume head rubbing from a strange cat is an invitation to be pet.Cats also greet other cats they know with a head rub or bunt. Feral cats, who tend to live in groups, use this behavior to show their affiliation with the group and single out their “preferred associates,” Borns-Weil says. When cats live together and all rub on each other, a communal scent is spread throughout the group.