Cat Headbutts | Are They A Positive or Negative Sign?

What Do Cat Headbutts Mean?

Cats do weird things. Some are cute, others are just…well, strange. Headbutting certainly falls into that category. Ever had a cat headbutt you? What does it mean? It is something positive or negative?

If you do the same to a person you love, it’s definitely not a sign of love. However, when a cat does it, it’s a special bonding behavior.

If your cat headbutts you often, that’s a great sign. It means that they love you and trust you to be personal. Felines do this move to create a colony scent. Cats have scent glands all over the body, head included. By headbutting you, your cat essentially leaves its mark on you, marking you as their owner.

If you have several cats at home, you will notice that they all do the same. They might even take turns one after another, staking their claim on you. Cats are hardwired to compete for love and affection, and headbutts are one way to show it.

The Main Reasons Cat Headbutt You

Marking Territory

As mentioned, cat headbutt their favorite humans as a way to mark their territory. As you may already know, cats use scent to mark territories and people who they feel safe with. It’s a weird show of love and affection, but one you’ll be happy to receive.

Love and Affection

When a cat headbutts you, you should see it as a sign of love and affection. Once again, they’re rubbing their scent on you, which can then be smelt by other cats.

The great thing about this is that cats don’t headbutt people for no reason at all. As a matter of fact, they only do it for truly special people they care about, not anyone random.

Gaining Attention

When your cat headbutts you, what do you do in return? Most people react by cuddles and scratches which their cat loves. That’s exactly what the cat was looking for.

Headbutting is often used as a way to gain attention. They use it when they lonely or bored, and they know that they can get a few rubs and scratches from you in return. Smart.

Feeling Safe

One of the biggest reasons for cat headbutts is safety. As mentioned, cats don’t do it with random people – they do it with people they feel safe with. When a cat does a headbutt, it essentially marks you as a safe object with its scent.

This is why this doesn’t happen with new cats. Before a cat headbutts you, you will need to gain its trust. Once they feel safe around you, the headbutting will commence.


The final reason why a cat headbutts you is one many will be disappointed about – domination. By marking you with its scent, a feline shows domination over you. It essentially demonstrates its power over you.

Dominating cats can often be very demanding and aggressive, but that’s not a general behavior. If your cat headbutts you and doesn’t have behavioral issues, it’s not a problem you should concern yourself with.

Headbutting FAQs

Do cats headbutt each other?

Yes, cats headbutt [1] each other, and it’s still a sign of mutual respect. By doing this, they exchange their scents and helps them form a strong bond. In both the human and feline kingdom, headbutts are a show of respect.

Why do cats headbutt you in the morning?

If you have a cat, you may notice that it headbutts you in the morning much more often than any other part of the day. It’s a usually morning routine for many people, and that’s no surprise.

If you don’t sleep in the same bed, a morning headbutt means that the cat missed you overnight. It wants to bond with and leave its scent on you once again.

When we sleep overnight, we perspire a lot, so all our previous scents wear off. You might not notice this, but your cat will. The first thing it’ll do in the morning is headbutt you to show you that they missed you and mark you as a safe object. And yes, to gain your attention a bit as well.

Should you headbutt back?

If your cat headbutts you frequently and you want to do it back, you can. However, do it slowly and gently. If your cat does it as a sign of domination (which it shouldn’t), you may be in for a few scratches of those paws. But most likely, if you’re gentle, your cat will headbutt you back to return the favor.

What if your cat doesn’t headbutt you?

No worries there. If your cat doesn’t headbutt you, it’s nothing to concern yourself with. Many cats express their love and affection in other ways. Plus, it’s a behavior only confident cats do. If your kitty is new or very quiet, it’ll most likely be a while before it headbutts you.

What’s the difference between bumping and pressing?

When talking about headbutts, it’s very important to learn the difference between pressing and bumping. Sometimes, if your cat presses its head on you or a piece of furniture frequently during the day, it might be a sign of some kind of discomfort.

In many cases, it’s been known to show neurological problems and high blood pressure. There might be some other health issues to check for. If it does it often and presses its head into yours, a trip to the vet can identify possible problems.

But, in most cases, it’ll be a head snuggle that will result in some belly rubs and scratches in return. Cats headbutt their favorite people as a sign of respect, so you shouldn’t consider it anything else.

This weird feline behavioral trait is most often a sign of love and affection. It means your cats loves you and trusts you. It marks you with its scent to make itself feel safe. It’s not an aggressive behavior many people believe it to be – it’s a rather loving expression of affection, and you should enjoy it.

These 8 Signs Will Tell You If Your Cat Likes You Or Not