Imagine minding your own business when you’re suddenly faced with an uncensored view of a cat’s furry backside. You might blush with embarrassment for the sake of the feline’s social faux pas, but then you realize that it wasn’t an accident. No matter how you try to look away, that cat is determined to keep up the spectacle.
If you’re an experienced cat owner, this scenario is all too relatable. Purebred cats, rescue cats, lap cats, and even cats that prefer personal space–so many felines find it necessary to put their butts in human faces. If you’ve ever found yourself on the unsightly side of one of these interactions, you can at least be relieved that you’re not alone.
Putting their butts in their owner’s faces is an unfortunately normal behavior for cats. Believe it or not, there are a few logical reasons why they do it. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Initiating a Polite Interaction
You most likely don’t appreciate that close-up view of your cat’s backside, but your cat doesn’t know that. In fact, they think they’re doing you a favor. Cats are like dogs in that they communicate with scents. The feline olfactory system is especially strong, and cats rely on their noses to give them important information about the people, pets, and environments around them.
When a cat greets another cat, it’s common courtesy for each party to take a strong sniff where important scent glands are located at the base of the tail. By breathing in those potent smells, the two cats essentially confirm their identities and learn a lot about each other. Consider it the feline version of quickly telling a friend about your day.
For cats, this odorous introduction is both expected and polite. That upright tail and full-frontal view of their butt is meant as an invitation.
Also Read: What Your Cat’s Tail Can Tell You
The problem is that cats don’t realize their sense of smell is 14 times more powerful than that of their human companions. Our inadequate human noses are not capable of picking up those subtle scents–and when there’s a cat butt in our face, that’s the way we like it.
2. Cat Instincts and Trust
Your house cat lives a life of comfort and safety, but they can’t ignore the basic survival instincts ingrained in their brains. As a result, trust is a huge factor for cats. Cats are small and vulnerable. To protect themselves, they’re cautious about who they get close to. They also remain on guard and don’t like putting their backs to potential threats.
If your cat regularly puts their butt in your face, consider it a compliment and sign of companionship. By showing you that vulnerable area, your cat expresses how much they trust you. They’re not worried about you threatening them when their back is turned, and they know you’ll protect them if an outside threat approaches. It’s a friendly behavior, not an insult.
Also Read: 6 Subtle Signs Your Cat Loves You
3. Getting Into Petting Position
All cats are different, but most feline friends live for a good petting session. A rub behind the ears, a scratch under the chin, and don’t forget those gratifying butt massages. Physical affection is important to cats, and they’re not shy about letting you know what they want and when they want it.
By putting their butt in your face, your cat could be sending a message they think is loud and clear: “I’m in the mood for pets!” They’re giving you full access to their favorite scratch spots, and they expect you to know what to do.
Your initial reaction might be to push your cat’s backside out of your personal space, but this could confuse and even upset your cat. Instead, try offering a nice butt rub and see what happens.
The next time your cat puts their butt in your face, resist the urge to shove them aside. If you take a second to think, you might realize your cat is trying to tell you something important. By acknowledging their communication in an appropriate way (petting, speaking to them in a reassuring voice) you add another brick into the strong foundation that is your friendship and bond.
Once you make that connection, your cat might remove their hindquarters from your face all on their own. It won’t stop them, unfortunately, from doing it again later. If you love your cat, having their butt close to your nose might just be something to get used to.