Why Cats Love Having Their Heads Scratched

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on August 30, 2017

Have you ever wondered why your cat loves to have his head scratched so much? Sure, she may crave attention in any form she can get it, but it turns out there’s a lot more to it than that. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, author and professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, spoke to Live Science about his theory on why cats love having their heads scratched.

According to Dodman, not only does scratching your cat’s head give them the affection they desire, it’s also a location they can’t scratch very well by themselves and they can’t lick it at all. Dodman told Life Science:

“It’s a relatively inaccessible area that you can reach for them, so you’re doing them a favor in that sense.”

Scratching their head might also remind them of being groomed by their mother, who would have licked their face and head quite thoroughly when they were a kitten. It’s a part of the grooming routine that they do their best to mimic by licking their paws and rubbing them over their face and head. Your fingers probably do a better job than their paws.

Another reason cats may appreciate you scratching their heads is because that’s where most of their scent glands are located. By letting you scratch their head, they are essentially marking you as their territory. Scent marking is also thought to have a calming effect of cats.

When a cat goes so far as to rub their head against you, known as bunting, it’s a friendly gesture that both marks you as their territory and expresses their moving feelings toward you.

Image source: alljengi via flickr


So now you know that scratching your cat’s head is a great way to give love to and receive love from your cat, and show them how much you care in return!

(H/T: Live Science)

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