Why Do Stray Cats Rub Against Your Legs?

Some cats tend to rub against your legs, face, or hands when youre petting them. If youre new to cat behavior, you may be wondering what leads them to do that. Weve done some research and have some great information for you.

Showing trust and affection towards a favorite human, much as kittens would be rubbing against the mother cat. Youve probably noticed kitties rubbing against the corners of boxes, tables, or many other things as well.

Unless your cat has a behavior problem, or theres a particularly stressful situation to handle, the natural feline pheromones should be enough to keep Kitty calm. When rubbing against you, a cat is telling you that they see you as a friendly entity and part of their social group. The researchers mentioned how rubbing against one another was a main social cue for these cats, much like mutual grooming.

Problems can arise if human beings interpret rubbing as seeking further interaction when the cat may be using it only as a passing greeting, or if people pet in areas that usually are not allogroomed by other cats, such as along the back, on the tail or at its base, or on the belly. If you ever got to watch a mother cat nurture her kittens, you probably noticed there was a lot of physical contact involved. If your cat is constantly rubbing against your legs, it could be a potential cry for attention or food.

If you notice the rubbing when you are preparing food, perhaps ensure your cat always has something on which to graze or feed them right before you begin cooking in an attempt to keep them out of your way. The idea for this product is that you spread wet food or another mushy treat across the surface. If hunger isnt the issue, try to ensure youve set some time aside for your cat each day so that they arent feeling neglected.

Try to determine any changes that couldve incited the behavior a new pet, new scent in the house, or anything else that might cause your kitty stress. Having a cat literally between your legs can be a problem for some people, especially those who are concerned with falling in the home. If you care for a colony of feral cats and come across one that is friendly enough to rub against you, you should consider finding them a loving home.

If the bite is light without real force behind it, it is likely just a love bite. Cats do this gentle nipping as a sign of affection. In this thread by our member, averyfeinhaus describes a situation with her cat that tends to nip and bat at her after rubbing. In her experience, she tried some patient advice and found a happy way of interacting with her cat.

If a cat has been playing heartily or watching some prey from the window, they could randomly recall the undischarged aggression they felt and suddenly release it upon you, their owner. The best way to avoid this type of bite is to observe your cat for outward signs of aggression before petting them and learn when theyve had enough. Cats raise their bums as a sign of friendliness while also ensuring your hand is on just the right spot for optimum scratches at the base of their tail.

Additionally, cats lift their hindquarters as kittens in response to their mothers trying to clean them. Cats also have a concentration of nerves at the base of their tail, so this area could easily get overstimulated.

How do you know if a stray cat likes you?

Your cat headbutts you out of love. ….Its tail is always twitching at the tip or curled around your leg. ….It shows you its tummy. ….Purring means your cat is happy in your presence. ….Your cat brings you “gifts.” ….Your cat nibbles you a lot. ….It gurgles all the time.

How do stray cats show affection?

Some stray and feral cats love their friends from afar. They may hang out close to your house or just out of arm’s reach. They head butt you. Officially called head bunting, cats’ rub scent glands on you for bonding, comforting and friendly purposes.

What does it mean when a cat goes around your legs?

The moving between and rubbing against the legs is called marking and happens when they are excited. Cats are not bred as herding animals like some dogs, but they have learned that this behavior, marking, is a way to get what they want. … Owners see their cat’s excitement and are quick to give her what she wants.

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.

Rubbing against your legs is very typical cat behavior that we often see and experience yet something that we do not understand fully. So, what if the cat rubbing against your legs is a stray cat? What Are the reasons why she is doing that? Lets start by getting to know more what a stray cat is, its demeanor, and character.

Another situation where a cat becomes a stray is when it leaves its source of human care or its former owner may have passed away. According to Dr. Stephanie Borns, professor of Animal Behavior at Tufts University in Massachusetts, cats utilize their olfactory senses to size up, investigate, and gather information about their surroundings, including people.

Stray cats use scents to mark their property or territory, including you when it rubs against your legs. They rub to transfer their scent or pheromones which are located in their chin, cheeks, forehead, tail, and anal area. Just as it is with head bunting, a typical cat behavior where they rub their heads on people to leave their scent, stray cats rub your legs as a means to approve, accept, bond, and welcome you to their group or colony.

Encountering a stray cat in the park or a picnic area may terrify people who may think that they are untamed or feral. However, while stray cats may be initially cautious in approaching people, they may show affection by rubbing against your legs as a means of acceptance. approaches people, houses, and cars lives alone and doesnt have a group moves and walks like a domestic cat and walks with the tail up showing friendliness will make eye contact with people may be vocal by meowing as a way of answering you visible during daytime

Instead, take your time and observe the cat as it starts to rub and circle your legs. Observing the cats action for a few moments will give both of you time to size things up and forge a silent connection. Once you attempt to touch the cat, continue to do so in a controlled and conscious manner and wait for its cue for you to stop.

Cat experts suggest that you should aim for their head and the area around their ears or you may rub their back, too. Your legs are also simply the most accessible body parts and it gives a cat enough physical contact without having to interact with the face or hands. Naturally, though, there are some people who do not fancy the idea of stray cats rubbing against their legs.

Lift the cat away from your legs in a gentle but firm manner and give them food or treats. TNRM programs may also involve vaccinations against rabies and may have colony caretakers who oversee the welfare of the cats. Colony caretakers have various needs like temporary housing, feeding, and fostering of stray cats with the hope of finding them a home.

Before bringing home that stray cat, make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet so he can check it thoroughly. Having the cat checked will ensure if its healthy or if it has health issues or an underlying medical condition. As a responsible pet owner, you should make sure to spay or neuter the cat before allowing it to settle to its new home.

With a good budget, youll be able to purchase all the necessary supplies like food, treats, accessories, toys, collar, and litter.

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.

If youre a cat owner, youve likely wondered why cats rub against one person but not another. Your fluffy companion might greet you at the door and rub against your legs, but be aloof when your partner or friend enters through the same door.

Our feline roommates rely heavily on scent for communication, and this type of physical contact stimulates their pheromone glands. Pheromones create unique scents produced by individual cats which they use for marking territory and correspondence.

If your cat decides to rub these areas against your body, it means that they are marking you as familiar to them which is a very good sign. The scent exchange is a way to indicate that your cat is marking an object or a person as part of the unit. This fuels their fire and shows them that we are taking part in the scent exchange ceremony.

They think that we are marking them back and telling them that we are appreciating our position within the family bond that they have created which is true. Next time when your cat is rubbing up against you, pay close attention to their body language. And our household furballs still share some traits with their wild ancestors like territorial marking.

Cats may share spaces in close proximity to one another, and keeping the pheromonal territory up-to-date is a full-time job. They can tell the readiness for mating, aggression, possessiveness, and both the mental and physical health of the other cat. b. Headbutt If your feline friend pressed their head up against yours, in any manner, theyre showing you the ultimate sign of affection or closeness.

They have a sympathetic olfactory sense and they tend to rely heavily on it in order to survive. We tend to oversimplify the feline body language, immediately pinning it as a sign of affection that should be reciprocated. Try to reposition yourself away from an automatic anthropogenic response to your cats behavior, and rather aim to fully understand their intentions.

This will help you to forge a stronger bond with your feline friends and aid in better communication in the future. Enjoy all the rubbing and petting, but remember to be on the lookout for the small changes in body language that may indicate that they need more than just attention.

Rubbing for Pheromone “Scent” Transference

As mentioned, while Kitty is rubbing against you, they are actually “marking” you with their pheromones. Cats have special glands around their head and neck that secrete pheromones. These invisible and odorless biological molecules stick to whatever they rub against.Your cat generally does this to make you (or other objects) smell familiar to them. They’re not doing this consciously, though. Marking their environment in pheromones is an instinctive behavior for cats.Don’t spend too long trying to smell these pheromones. The human nose is not sophisticated enough for that, even though we are affected to some extent by human pheromones.This behavior extends to other cats and even to objects in the cat’s environment. You’ve probably noticed kitties rubbing against the corners of boxes, tables, or many other things as well. Even dogs can sometimes get marked this way!Cats like to be surrounded by their own scent, and by rubbing themselves against their surroundings, they are put at ease.

An artificial boost of pheromones

Pheromone marking is an effective way of signaling that an area is safe. So much so, that some manufacturers came up with products that mimic the same effect.You may have heard of Feliway. Whether as a spray or a plug-in diffuser this product helps calm down agitated cats. The calming effect is achieved by using artificial feline pheromones.Click here to see more about Feliway on AmazonComfort Zone is a similar product that is said to have the same effect.Click to see Comfort Zone on AmazonUnless your cat has a behavior problem, or there’s a particularly stressful situation to handle, the natural feline pheromones should be enough to keep Kitty calm.

2. As a way to investigate

Just as it is with homeless people, stray cats are prone to danger and many challenges. These may include:A stray cat struggles to survive by gaining access to food. One way to do this is by rubbing their legs against people nearby and allowing you to rub its belly. It’s a silent way of saying, “Hey, I’m friendly and cute. Now, can I have something to eat?” It’s their unique way to manipulate you to giving them food or treats which most often than not, is the final outcome.

1. Bid your time.

Do not do anything in haste. If you react to the cat’s behavior quickly it may surprise or frighten the cat. Instead, take your time and observe the cat as it starts to rub and circle your legs. Observing the cat’s action for a few moments will give both of you time to size things up and forge a silent connection.

2. Wait for their cue.

Once you attempt to touch the cat, continue to do so in a controlled and conscious manner and wait for its cue for you to stop. You’ll know this if the cat shifts to another position or walks a few steps away. At this point, both of you should have already established a sense of acknowledgment for each other.

3. Be selective with your affection.

Stray cats, just like domesticated cats, can be very particular on where they want to be touched or stroked. Cat experts suggest that you should aim for their head and the area around their ears or you may rub their back, too. This is because cats usually prefer to be touched in these areas as opposed to full-body touches.

4. Let them know they’re welcome.

If the stray cat happens to be a regular visitor in your backyard, let her know that she’s welcome, if that is your preference of course.

Contact local animal shelters in your area.

Reach out to your local animal shelters and inform them of the stray area you regularly see. They’ll also be able to check if it’s been a stray for a while or if it’s just a lost pet.

1. Bring the cat to your vet.

Before bringing home that stray cat, make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet so he can check it thoroughly. Having the cat checked will ensure if it’s healthy or if it has health issues or an underlying medical condition. Your vet will also be able to check for fleas and mites which often affect stray cats.

3. Install hiding spots.

As a responsible pet owner, you should make sure to spay or neuter the cat before allowing it to settle to its new home. Have your vet check if it has already been neutered and if not, to schedule the procedure as soon as possible.Advantages of neutering cats:

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.

1. Family Scent Exchange

Keeping the family unified is a job that our cats take very personally. The scent exchange is a way to indicate that your cat is marking an object or a person as part of the unit.When a cat rubs on us, our first reaction is to pet the furry friend back. This fuels their fire and shows them that we are taking part in the “scent exchange ceremony”.They think that we are marking them back and telling them that we are appreciating our position within the family bond that they have created – which is true.

2. Marking Inanimate Objects

You may have seen your cat rubbing itself on a new pair of shoes or a new house plant before. They will do this to mark that object as a recognized part of their territory.Putting their unique pheromonal scent on strange objects is their way of including said object into their space of the household. It also warns other cats that this space is taken and protected.⇒ Thinking about getting your favourite feline a new collar? Check out my posts on

3. Your Cat Is Yelling At You

Teaching your cat not to scratch or bite is an important chapter of the cat parenting manual they all so thoughtfully come with – ha ha. But, this might be stripping away their ability to communicate frustration or aggression.Luckily, cats have learned how to show those feelings in the best and most sensitive way available to them. If your feline friend is erratically rubbing up against you and seems to be more forceful than normal, they might be actually yelling at you.Cats tend to use this manner of communication to indicate to their cat parents that they are feeling angry, misunderstood, or even sad.Next time when your cat is rubbing up against you, pay close attention to their body language. You might be surprised.

4. This is My Space

Domesticated felines come from a long lineage of feral cats. They have only become domestic pets about 10 000 years ago. And our household furballs still share some traits with their wild ancestors – like territorial marking.Cats may share spaces in close proximity to one another, and keeping the pheromonal territory up-to-date is a full-time job. They use their unique scent to set boundaries for one another, whether it be on a human or on an area or object.⇒ Getting a new kitty? Check out my guide toTo other feline neighbors, these scents reveal a lot, like Kitty Twitter. They can tell the readiness for mating, aggression, possessiveness, and both the mental and physical health of the other cat.This will help them navigate their way around the area and also the hierarchy of the feline community.

5. Showin’ Some Lovin’

Not everything in the feline queendom is strategic, however. Sometimes our cats just need to show their affection and gratitude towards us. But different kinds of physical touch can mean different things to the feline.

a. Tail Wraps Around Your Leg

If a cat is rubbing up against your leg and suddenly their tail coils around, you are experiencing the closest we will ever come to a hug. This is a very common way for the cat to show their affection.It’s the human equivalent of throwing your arms around a friend.⇒ An entertained cat is a happy cat. Check out my posts on

b. Headbutt

If your feline friend pressed their head up against yours, in any manner, they’re showing you the ultimate sign of affection or closeness. Headbutting is the human equivalent of yelling “I love you” to someone’s face.Cats may only do this with a select posse of humans, so feel honored if you have become the chosen one.

c. You Have Something That I Want

If your furry roommate rubs up against you, they may also be looking for affection or cuddles. But, your cat has very interesting ways of showing their needs, including rubbing up against a door (Let me out), or rubbing up against the kitchen cabinets (Gimme a snack, man).However, if a strange cat rubs against you, they might only be saying hello. Don’t try to over-pet or pick up the cat. He is simply welcoming you into their space.⇒ Keen to get your cat out and about? Check out my posts on