Why Does my Cat Give me Head Butts?

Nelson head buttIf a human were to walk up to you and slam his forehead into yours, it would generally be a bad thing – and probably lead to a fight! However, when your cat does it to you, it means something entirely different.

The technical term for what your cat is doing when he bonks you on the head with his own is bunting. Bunting includes head-cracking and also rubbing themselves against your legs. They do this for a few reasons – to communicate (“Hi, how are you!”), to leave their scent on you, or because they want to be petted.

Cats communicate with us using body language and if a cat head butts you, he is extremely content, greeting you with love and affection. And, remember, he is bunting, or leaving his mark on you to signify that you are safe, trusting and comfortable.

Some cats tend to bunt more frequently than others, so don’t be concerned if your cat isn’t giving you skull-cracking head bonks. He’s probably showing his affection in some other way!

Check out this video of kitties Emma and Portia giving head butts, filmed with a GoPro HD helmet cam. Cool!

Does your cat give you head butts?

18 Responses to Why Does my Cat Give me Head Butts?
  1. Diane Porter
    November 6, 2013 | 6:00 pm

    we have 4 cats, only 1 gives us head bumps, usually when he is hungry. The others show their affection in other ways.

  2. Catburglar
    November 6, 2013 | 8:03 pm

    Very cute, and I wish my new boy did this, but he’s not a head-butter. And… I know, I’m going to get flack for mentioning this, but, folks, forgive me, I just can’t stand it. It’s “… or because they want to be petted.” Your cat doesn’t want to be pet – after all, he/she is already your pet!

    • Marjean
      November 9, 2013 | 10:32 am

      Thank you for saying what I wanted to say! That drives me nuts!

  3. Matt
    November 6, 2013 | 11:04 pm

    I’m sorry to say this but….

    could they find an UGLIER cat to demonstrate this?!

    It’s not an overly popular breed and ugly as sin, WHY didn’t they use ANY other cat breed?!

    • Brooke Arnold
      November 7, 2013 | 1:40 pm
      Brooke Arnold

      Actually, the Sphynx is the 10th most popular cat breed according to The Cat Fanciers Association. :) And I find them especially cute.

      • Christine
        November 7, 2013 | 7:25 pm

        Actually, the SPYNX in the picture is one of the most loving species to be had. I recently have gotten one and it was the best decision we have ever made. Our Allergic child could now have a cat. No reaction at all.
        So, Mr. Matt unless your the hottest thing on earth, it’s kinda .. well, ZIP IT!

    • Tina Kipp
      November 8, 2013 | 6:25 pm

      I love those cats, I call them Pumpkin cats. I think they are so beautiful. I’m a cat lover so….all cats are beautiful to me.

    • dd
      November 8, 2013 | 8:02 pm

      There are NO ugly animals!!!

  4. Merk
    November 7, 2013 | 7:15 pm

    what does it mean when they head bonk you, then bite the crap out of your hand when you try to pet them, then run.

    • Donna
      November 8, 2013 | 6:31 pm

      that you shouldn’t pet them at that time? Without seeing what the cat is doing, I would say the cat wants to play and is getting overexcited.

  5. Kay Powell
    November 7, 2013 | 11:11 pm

    My boys love to head-butt me. One of them wakes me up at night with his amorous advances!

  6. Eveline
    November 8, 2013 | 1:08 pm

    My oldest cat, Jujuba, does is all the time, head cracking ones. Joaquim hops on the table, gives us a head-butt and then turns around and points his butt to us, and then head butts and points his butt,… many times! My youngest one, Mel, doesn’t like faces too close to her face, so, her head-butts are generally done on our legs or hands.

  7. Norah James
    November 8, 2013 | 1:14 pm

    I have one cat that head bumps me, but our other cat doesn’t do it all that often. He head bumps my husband all the time, so I’m thinking he doesn’t like me as much.

  8. Chris A
    November 8, 2013 | 1:15 pm

    I have had communicative cats that talked all the time and typical cuddlers but this last one is my first boy. He is pretty funny. He head butts me every morning to get up and if that doesn’t work, he walks across my boobs. OUch. That works for me. I get up and feed him. He also plays fetch. My dogs don’t fetch. He is only vocal when he wants to play, eat, or go outback with the dogs because he isn’t sure what he is but he knows he is the most special of the bunch….

  9. Claire
    November 8, 2013 | 4:09 pm

    Everyday after I would get home from school my wonderful cat, Olivia, would be waiting at the door. She would stare at me as it come in and quickly follow me up to my room and hope on my bed. I would quickly take me shoes and backpack off and join her on the bed and we would head butt each other for a few minutes before she would ask for a belly rub.
    I always feel like you have a rare connection when you can do that with a cat.

  10. Jennifer
    November 9, 2013 | 6:34 am

    I have 4 indoor cats and they all do this bunting or head butting. My question is that one in particular will rarely head butt me, even though he may come up to me an do the little paw thing cats do (push their paws up and down in one place) and he seems happy enough, yet if my children are beside me, he’ll head butt them, but yet still stay on my lap/ chest…..I have no doubt he loves me, and I am always gentle with him and affectionate. Why would he not head butt me?

    • Ben
      March 30, 2014 | 9:21 pm

      he sees you as his mother! The paw thing is called “kneeding”, its a call back to when they are padding their mother for milk, he definitely loves you if he trusts you enough to kneed, feel honored he sees you as his surrogate mother!

  11. Kaylene
    April 3, 2014 | 7:43 am

    My cat head butts me to try and get me out of bed & she will keep doing it until I get up… I find it quite cute :)

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