Cat Butting … The Way Cats Meet & Greet
8 July, 2013

We love our quirky cats with all their funny antics and behavior.  They do many strange and fun things, including “Cat Butting” or putting their rear end in your or another cat’s face.  While this seems odd and not quite enticing, there is a reason that cats meet and greet this way.  And, our feline friends are the cleanest of animals, so it’s not quite as disturbing as it could be!

The Cat ‘hello’

When cats greet each other for the first time, they sniff each other’s faces and neck as a sort of introduction.   This could be compared to when you nod a greeting to a stranger at your first meeting. Think of it as shaking hands.  However, with cats, they actually produce cheek pheromones that signal friendship, so sniffing this area can actually help calm feelings of aggression or fear.  (It is the complete opposite of catnip.. more of a ‘relaxant’.)

Once the cats feel comfortable with each other, cats progress to sniffing parties. The rear or tail area  holds the scent of other cat’s body rubbing or a human’s petting hand so it tells the sniffer quite a lot about the cat.

Well, hello there!

The Cat ‘sniff” to other cats

Of course there is the lovely sniff of the behind beneath the raised tail. This is where the cat’s specific scent is found.  Cats that keep their tail down and don’t want to be sniffed might be compared to a shy person hiding her face.  Other cats have no problem with raising their tails, asking to be ‘sniffed’.

And, then there is the raised tail which signals “Dude.. let’s be friends… I mean no harm”.  So the combination of a raised tail AND a butt-sniffing is the equivalent of a human’s enthusiastic hug or a kiss on each cheek in greeting.  Hard to believe, but it is true!  I think I like our way better.

The cat ‘butt’ to you

When your cat presents his tail in your face, does he really expect you to sniff?  Not necessarily. Cats are smart, and as much as they love us, they realize that we are not a cat!   They are really just sending us a message that they trust us and are opening up to us in their own special way. The cat butt sniff is a back-handed feline compliment even if you and I prefer a kiss or a nudge.

But, don’t worry, you certainly aren’t expected to sniff your cat back. All you have to do is pet your cat along his or her back or wherever he prefers most as an affectionate gesture. Let your kitty know that this is OK that he does this.. he is giving you a feline compliment, after all.

The next time your cat butts you or another cat, at least you will know that this is very typical behavior of our feline friends.  They are just saying ‘hello’ in their strange yet unique way.

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