bunting in cats
Behavioral Problems

Why Does My Cat Headbutt Me in the Morning?

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.

Why does my cat headbutt me in the morning? Your cat is rubbing their scent pheromones from their head onto your head. Bunting is a sign of affection, demonstrating that they trust and respect you. They’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 people 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.

Why Do Cats Headbutt Humans?

When a cat headbutts (bunts) a human, they are claiming ownership. Cats headbutt items, people, and other cats which they deem essential. In doing so, they release pheromones that mark the person, cat or object as their 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 their own, but it also extends to humans.

If a cat decides that they approve of a human, they’ll rub their scent against them. This is sending a message to other cats that says, “back off – I own this one.”

In doing so, they will also override any scent of other cats. This is important to a cat, as it means they are creating a sense of community.

cat head butting and biting

Bunting, however, is different from traditional scent marking. After all, your cat can do this with their body. There’s an element of risk in presenting their head to share their scent.

Bunting is reserved for people and cats that your pet already has an established relationship with. When your cat rubs their head against you, they are releasing pivotal pheromones and demonstrating affection. Think of this behavior as a feline, “I love you.”

Also, your cat is marking you as safe and someone they 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.

They’ll show patience to an extent, but they’ll eventually grow bored. Your cat will start bunting with you to wake you up. They want to be played with, and likely want to be fed. Your cat may also want to eliminate, but are reluctant to do so until you change their litter.

Cats are at their most active first thing in the morning, so they’ll only wait 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.

You should take it as a compliment that our cat expresses these wishes through bunting. This shows you have a great relationship – it’s the equivalent of 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.

They’ll be capable of sliding under the sheets, sure. They may even make a nip of your toes. If they choose to bunt against your head, however, it’s because they wish to show affection.

Many pet owners find that their cat headbutts them awake the same time every morning. Most cats are more reliable than any 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, your pet will be there to lend a helping hand. After all, the quicker you wake up, the faster you will meet their 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:

  • They willingly sit close to you and purr. If they’ll happily doze in your lap, it’s feline approval
  • They always greet you at the door, especially with a swishy tail
  • They follow you from room to room
  • They show you their tummy, or willingly sleep on their back
  • They bring you gifts in the form of dead mice or birds
  • They nibble or knead at your clothing
  • They groom 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 them closely. If they slowly close their eyelids, like a slow-motion blink, they’re expressing their love.

The fact that cats continue living with you could be the ultimate sign of affection, though. Forget what people say about felines living with anybody that will feed them.

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, though. Some cats will use a headbutt for attention.

Again, this does not mean that your cat is acting with any form of violence of malice. Quite the opposite – your pet is demonstrating affection. In doing so, however, they are also well aware of how cute they are acting. They expect 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 their neck, which feels great. There is nothing wrong with indulging your pet’s request in such a scenario.

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 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 dubbed safe.

cat headbutts me

This is very important to wild and feral cats. As independent as felines are, they also live in communities. If a cat has the appropriate scent, they will be marked out as welcome in a colony’s territory. If not, they will likely quickly 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 bunting.

One thing you may notice is a pecking order to bunting among your pets. It is common for bunting to be an act of dominance. The cat that tops a feline hierarchy is permitted to initiate the activity.

This means that they 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 them back to show your love?

It’s possible to do so, but you should act with extreme caution. You have to remember that cats are very skittish. They may not understand your motivations, and you’re much bigger than them. As a result, it’s possible that your cat will panic and claw.

If you wish to instigate bunting with your cat, remember the following:

  • Instigating bunting could be interpreted 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 end up confusing them.
  • Cats typically operate a, “don’t call me, I’ll call you” approach to human interaction. If they’re not in the mood to show affection, they 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 a plethora of other ways that you can demonstrate your affection.

Head Pressing vs. Bunting in Cats

One thing that bunting is something confused with is head pressing. Unfortunately, this can be very dangerous, as head pressing suggests a serious medical concern.

As PetMD explains, head pressing involves a feline pushing their skull against a hard surface. A wall is the most likely locale for head pressing. If your cat engages in this behavior, take them to the vet.

Head pressing is usually a warning sign of a severe medical problem. It could be neurological, or it may lie within your cat’s nervous system.

Head pressing and bunting are very different activities. You’ll know the difference if you’re unfortunate enough to see head pressing. This involves your cat leaning intently against a wall, often obsessively. Bunting is gentler, involves more rubbing, and only lasts a few seconds.

The behavior may be 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 to wake up to each morning.