Have you ever been woken from a deep sleep due to your cat headbutting you in the morning? You’re not alone. Bunting in cats is a surprisingly common behavior that can leave you confused.
Your cat is rubbing his scent pheromones from his head onto your head. Bunting is a sign of affection, demonstrating that he trusts and respects you. He’ll do this via ‘headbutting’ as bedsheets cover the rest of your body. It is different from normal scent marking.
This headbutting behavior in cats is a compliment. Cats will not bunt with someone that they are indifferent to or do not know well. However, bunting can be confused with other, more worrying behaviors. This complete guide aims to remove any doubt as to your cat’s intentions.
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Why Do Cats Headbutt Humans?
When a cat headbutts (bunts) a human, he is claiming ownership of you. A cat will headbutt items, people, and other cats that he deems essential. In doing so, he is releasing pheromones that mark the person, cat, or object as his property.
What is Bunting in Cats?
It’s no secret that marking scents is important to cats. This behavior usually involves claiming the territory as his own, but it also extends to humans.
If a cat decides that he approves of a person, then he’ll rub his scent against that person. This is sending a message to other cats that says, “back off – I own this one.”
In doing so, he’ll also override the scent of other cats. This is important to a feline, as it means that he is creating a sense of community.
Bunting is different from traditional scent marking. After all, your cat can do this with his body. There’s an element of risk in presenting the head to share his scent.
Bunting is reserved for people and cats that your pet already has an established relationship with. When your cat rubs his head against you, he is releasing pheromones and demonstrating affection.
Also, your cat is marking you as safe and someone that he can trust. As gaining the trust of a feline can be challenging, this should be considered a compliment.
Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me Every Morning?
You may notice that your cat headbutts you more in the morning. There are various reasons for this pattern. You have to remember that your cat does not keep the same hours as you. While you’re enjoying a peaceful lie-in until 5 am, your cat has been up for hours.
He’ll show patience to an extent, but he’ll eventually become bored. Your cat will start bunting to wake you up. He wants to be played with and/or fed. Your cat may also want to eliminate, but is reluctant to do so until you change his litter.
Cats are at their most active first thing in the morning, so they’ll only wait for so long. Just because felines are independent, it doesn’t mean that they are indifferent to human company. Many owners find that their cat wakes them up in the night, for example.
You should take it as a compliment that your cat expresses these wishes through bunting. This shows you have a great relationship – it’s the equivalent of a human partner waking you with a hug.
Your cat aims for your head in these situations because it’s easy to access. You will notice that your cat bunts you all day. However, you’ll ordinarily receive this affection around your shins. In the morning, your cat cannot easily access the rest of your body.
He’ll be capable of sliding under the sheets. He may even nip your toes. If he chooses to bunt against your head, it’s because he wants to show you affection.
Many pet owners find that their cat headbutts them awake at the same time every morning. Most cats are more reliable than an alarm clock. This is due to your pet’s love of routine. Also, your cat knows when you’re about to wake up anyway.
This doesn’t mean that cats can tell time. Instead, they listen to your breathing and watch your eyes. When you show signs of stirring, he will be there to lend a helping hand. After all, the quicker you wake up, the faster you will meet his needs.
Why Doesn’t My Cat Bunt with Me?
If your cat is not headbutting you, should you be offended? Does this mean that your cat doesn’t love or trust you? This is not necessarily the case.
Every cat is different. Even if your cat headbutts everything and everybody but you, try not to take it personally. It’s possible that your bond is so strong that your cat doesn’t need a scent reminder. Look out for these classic signs of feline affection, as suggested by Insider:
- He sits close to you and purrs.
- He always greets you at the door with a swishy tail
- He follows you from room to room
- He shows you his tummy, or willingly sleeps on his back
- He brings you gifts in the form of dead mice or birds
- He nibbles or kneads at your clothing
- He grooms you, usually through licking
You can also look out for the fabled ‘cat kiss.’ Next time your pet appears to be staring at you, watch him closely. If he slowly closes his eyelids, like a slow-motion blink, he’s expressing his love.
The fact is, cats have excellent instincts. They’ll be able to survive anywhere. If they didn’t love you, they wouldn’t stay in your home and tolerate your quirky behaviors.
Does My Cat Headbutt Me for Attention?
Many cats initiate bunting in the morning for attention. This behavior isn’t reserved for the start of the day as some cats will use a headbutt for getting attention.
Your pet is demonstrating affection. In doing so, he is also well aware of how cute he is acting. he expects to be rewarded with attention.
Most often, the request is for petting. Cats often drop their head and turn their neck sideways after bunting. Your cat is asking for a scratch on the back of his neck.
Do Cats Headbutt Other Cats?
Bunting is not reserved for humans. Cats headbutt other felines more than their human companions. The behavior is typical in wild cats, and the instinct lives on in domesticated pets.
When two cats engage in bunting, they are also expressing affection. By rubbing heads, both cats are releasing pheromones. Also, they are creating a ‘colony scent.’ Any feline that carries this scent will be deemed to be safe.
This is vital to wild and feral cats. As independent as felines are, they also live in communities. If a cat has the appropriate scent, he will be marked out as welcome in a colony’s territory. If not, he will likely be chased away. Feral cats do not take any chances when it comes to infiltrators.
Bunting is also prevalent in domesticated housecats. If you have more than one cat in your home, look out for this action. It means that your pets consider each other as friends. Dual grooming, which is the mark of feline friendship, usually follows the act of bunting.
One thing you may notice is a pecking order to bunting among your cats. It is common for bunting to be an act of dominance. The cat that tops the feline hierarchy will initiate the activity.
This means that he will be spreading an approved scent that signifies a feline family. If a lower-ranking cat initiates bunting, it may be seen as an attempt to assert dominance.
Is it Okay to Headbutt Your Cat?
Pet owners are always looking for ways to cross the communication divide between humans and felines. Body language is typically the easiest way to do this. If your cat headbutts you in a form of bunting, can you headbutt him back to show your love?
It’s possible, but you should be careful. Cats are very skittish. They may not understand your motivations, and remember that you’re much bigger than them. It’s possible that your cat will panic and claw you. If you wish to instigate bunting with your cat, remember the following:
- Instigating bunting could be seen as a sign of attempted dominance.
- Your cat may not understand what you’re doing and become frightened of you.
- Your cat’s pheromones are located in particular parts of their head. If you get the wrong place, you may just end up confusing them.
- If your cat isn’t in the mood to show affection, he may not appreciate this forced contact.
If you have any doubts, it’s best to avoid headbutting your cat. Let your pet initiate the bunting. There are other ways that you can demonstrate love and affection to your feline companion.
Head Pressing vs. Bunting in Cats
Head pressing and bunting are very different activities. Head pressing involves your cat leaning intently against a wall, often obsessively. Bunting involves rubbing and only lasts a few seconds.
Head pressing suggests that there might be a serious medical concern. As PetMD explains, it involves a feline pushing his skull against a hard surface, such as a wall.
It could be a neurological problem, or it may lie within your cat’s nervous system. If your cat engages in this behavior, take him to the vet without delay. Bunting poses no such problem.
Bunting is a little disconcerting first thing in the morning. It will likely involve your cat staring into your eyes the moment you open them. When you understand the meaning, it’s a nice gesture.