Cat Behavior: Why do cats rub their tail or body against you

Trying to evaluate a cat’s behaviour can sometimes be strenuous. Cats are animals that change their behaviour mostly according to their hooman’s actions. However, their behaviour is also defined by the kind of place they reside in. 

If you own a feline, you are aware of the various practices that they inhabit. Out of them, one that is the most common is rubbing their tails against your body. Often owners ask this question as to why do cats rub their tails or body. Maybe, it wants attention or is asking you to cuddle it. 

While such actions appear friendly, these can be intimidating at times. Cats have an aggressive attitude in claiming what belongs to them. Although the habit of rubbing tails is not territorial, it still marks you as their pack member by leaving a scent on your body. 

Why do cats rub their tails or body? Let’s learn about them in detail.

Reasons why cats rub themselves against YOU

1. To mark their tribe members:

Why do cats rub their tail or body against you ; To mark their tribe members

Cats often rub their cheeks and chins against their owner’s feet.  Most of them consider this behaviour to be affectionate and friendly. But, the real reason for cats rubbing themselves on almost anything is to transmit their scent to the object or person. Surprisingly, this scent can only be smelled by other cats and not humans. Cats rub their scent glands to spread the pheromones present in the scent. But, the pheromones don’t stay forever. Thus, cats might need to rub them all over again to keep up the spot. 

Besides humans, cats also like to rub themselves on different surfaces like the door and the carpets.  Fortunately, such actions do not lead to any kind of violence. The act of Bunting or the cat’s way of pushing its head towards its owner also develops a sense of belonging and expresses trust and friendliness.

2. To gather information:

Why do cats rub their tail or body against you : To gather information

Why do cats rub their tails or body? Is it only to spread their scent? Not exactly. Sometimes, such behaviour is done by felines so that they can collect information about the environment. As olfactory creatures, they rely mostly on this sense to survive. 

Just like dogs, cats also sniff any new member that joins their family. The scent of the person decides whether he is acceptable or not. By rubbing against a new guest, they receive various information about the person like where does he belong, does he have any animals at home, what are they like, etc. A visitor might feel that the cat is trying to get close to him, while all it’s doing is looking for information.

3. To communicate:

Why do cats rub their tail or body against you: To communicate

Those who own cats are aware of how talkative they are. They may not have a human language to communicate with their owners, but their actions are enough for owners to understand. 

 Cats often use vocal means of communication like meowing or growling. Even their tails help in describing their body language. But, for situations where a cat feels extremely happy and wants to express itself, it might rub its body and tail near its favourite person or object. 

4. It needs something: 

Why do cats rub their tail or body against you: It needs something

If you are thinking about other reasons as to why do cats rub their tails or body, it can be because they want something from you. They can be hungry and are searching for some treats or brushings. In such cases, they will always try to stay close to you and even rub themselves against you to grab your attention. Head rubs and body rubs of cats are mostly friendly approaches that lead to a positive outcome most of the time. 

5. It is greeting you: 

Why do cats rub their tail or body against you: It is greeting you

Cats mostly follow their mother for learning about various behaviours. It is from them that kittens learn about rubbing their heads. Thus, after they grow up, they follow the same behaviour to greet their owners. While providing them food or after waking up from naptime, these animals would give a head butting to say ‘hello again’. 

Why do cats walk between our legs?

The primary reason for cats to rub themselves against you or to walk between your legs is mostly because they are trying to contact you through its different senses. Mostly, every domestic cat follows the same procedure to communicate with their hooman. 

Cats have a specialized mucous gland on their chin, cheeks, forehead and end of the tail that secrete pheromones. These pheromones are activated in the earlier stage when the kittens suck milk from their mother.

Surprisingly, these pheromones also help to identify a lost kitten. While walking within your legs, the cats secrete these comforting pheromones so that it can identify the area later.  The anal glands present near the anus of the cats secrete pheromones in the urine and faces as an indication of fear and insecurity. 

Cat behaviour:

Cats undertake different behaviours that have different outcomes. These behaviours are developed out of perplexities, frustrations and curiosity. We are already aware of one such behaviour, i.e., rubbing. Given below are some of the other known feline behaviours and the reason behind them. 

Urinating on one’s belongings:

Cat behaviour: Urinating on one’s belongings

Cats feel more convenient in living in spaces that are occupied by their scent. But, sometimes, when a new scent tries to invade their privacy, cats try to turn it into one of their own. The easiest way to do so is by peeing on the item. 

Owners can feel disgusted, thinking about the fact that their pet just urinated on their belongings. But, for them, it can be a way of releasing their anxiety.  


Cat behaviour: Scratching

One of the most common habits for any feline is to scratch surfaces. But it will come as a surprise when you realise that the scratching was only to deposit their scent on the object. Cats have scent glands in most parts of the body including their claws. Thus, while clawing different surfaces, cats leave their scent so that it can be recognised later. 

If you find your cat scratching particular furniture of your house several times, it is due to the different scents that are present there. But sometimes, this behaviour can be troublesome for they can develop a bad habit of scratching. In such cases, owners should provide training to their cats on how to use a scratching post. 


Cat behaviour: Kneeding

This practice starts the moment kittens start drinking milk from their mothers. They pad their mother’s breast for the proper release of the milk. The behaviour gives them a feeling of relaxation and comfort. Thus, even after growing up, they still search for such soft spots to relax.

You will often find cats pacing their paws on a blanket or bed and purring or drooling along with it. This habit is a pleasant one until their claws start to come out.

Swishy tail:

Cat behaviour: Swishy tail

If you find your feline with a swishy tail, it means there is an impending danger. Here, the tails go high up, either because they are scared or they are angry. The only way to resolve this issue is by giving them toys so that they can channel all their energy into them. These toys will keep the cats calm and away from swishy tails.


Cats have different ways of showing their affection. They often use their eyes and tails to develop a connection between them and their owners. They would look at you with half eyes closed and slow blinking. Such a process is called cat kisses. If you find them hanging around you for most of the day, it’s likely because she feels a deep affinity for you. 

But sometimes, this can also be a result of anxiety. Not spending enough time with your cats can make them feel lonely. They also start acting in absurd manners like rubbing their body on the floor or cuddling themselves, for now, for particular reasons. In such situations, one must start spending time with them. If things turn out serious, recommending a veterinarian will be a wise decision.


Q. Do cats purposely rub on different spots?

Cats do not have any permanent spots to rub. They prefer those areas that can be easily accessed.

Q. Can one stop its cat from rubbing against its body?

The only way to stop a cat from rubbing against its owner’s body is by reinforcing its behaviour. When you meet them after a day’s work, pet them so that scent is put back into them. This will automatically keep the cat’s behaviour under control.

Q. Is head butting and head pressing the same?

Headbutting refers to rubbing a cat’s head along with any other body part against a person’s cheeks. However, head pressing refers to pressing a cat’s head against a wall or furniture relentlessly. 

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