Cats primarily communicate with one another using body language. They are far more vocal in the presence of humans, but they still utilize many of the same physical cues to express their feelings to us.
Having a feline posterior directed at your face may not seem like a sign of affection, but rest assured, this shamelessly bold gesture is akin to a kitty hug or high five!
A well-aimed feline fanny usually comes at a time when our cats are seeking affection – or trying to let us know it’s dinner time! They typically purr, head-butt, drag the length of their body against us, and finally, present their rump.
Purring in this context is a well-known signal of contentment, while the head-butting and body rubbing is intended to “mark” an item with their scent. When cats rub other felines, objects or humans with their heads, ears and tails, they leave behind their own unique chemical signature.
Scent glands are located at the corners of the mouth, on the sides of the head, under the chin and ears, along the length of the tail, and in the spaces between the toes. This may explain why cats often knead us with their paws in addition to rubbing against us during these sessions.
Cats within a colony – or those living in the same home – rub their heads, bodies and tails against one another to signify acceptance and inclusion, possibly even creating a familiar “colony scent” within the group. They initiate these interactions by approaching each other with their tails raised high.
They usually begin head-to-head and rub alongside one another, ending with their rumps positioned together and their heads facing in opposite directions. However, when cats perform this routine with us, we remain still and end up with a face full of kitty bum!
Whether our cats are soliciting our affection, communicating a need or reaffirming the social bond we share, this behavior definitely shows that our cats love and trust us. Essentially, a butt to the face is a sincere form of kitty affection – and should be taken as a compliment!
H/T to VetStreet
Featured Image via Flickr/Celine Nadeau