Why Do Cats Put Their Butt in Your Face? A Vet Explains

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Rear view of a cat with its tail up, displaying its distinctive fur patterns and feline form.

Cats do a lot of strange things, and their mannerisms are certainly quite different from our human behaviors! For example, for cats, headbutting (or bunting) is a sign of affection, and a little nibble of your ear could be the equivalent of a kiss!

But perhaps the most bizarre example is when your cat put their butt in your face with a straight tail posture. So, why do cats do such things? Are they being offensive? Or is there more to it?

Why Do Cats Put Their Butt in Your Face?

When you’re sitting on the couch and your cat suddenly pops up on the armrest, stomps around on your lap, and shows you their bottom, it’s natural that you might be a bit perplexed. But what does this strange behavior mean and why do they do it?

It’s Normal Behavior

The first thing you need to know about this form of cat behavior is that it’s not rude, it’s actually very normal and stems from their behavior as kittens. Kittens will be used to mother cats grooming this area to keep them clean and stimulate them to pass urine and feces.

Female cats will also display their rear end, with their tail to the side to attract a male during mating behaviors. So, it’s part of their cat instincts to display their bottom no matter your pet’s age.

They Love You

A heartwarming moment between a cat and a human, as they share affectionate interaction and companionship.

It could be a sign of love.

It might not seem like it, but your cat displaying their bottom to their human companions could actually be a sign of love. After all, they won’t show their butt to just anyone!

Again, this comes back to when they are a kitten and the natural way that their mom’s grooming helped with bonding. Click to read more about signs your cat loves you.

They’re Scent Marking You

Cats have anal glands just inside their bottom, which release their unique scent when they pass poop and when they are frightened. They also have important scent glands on the skin in many parts of their bodies including their back end, tail, and legs, which release cat pheromones.

So, when they’re parading around on your lap rubbing their bottom against you, they’re actually marking you with their scent. This scent doesn’t just let other cats know that you belong to them, it also means that you smell familiar and reassuring to them.

They Want Your Attention

If your cat wants to be noticed and acknowledged, but you’re engrossed in something on the television or playing games on your phone, they might just find another way to get your attention.

Of course, putting their bum in your face is probably the most effective way to get you to acknowledge them because it’s hard to ignore! If your cat likes a lot of attention, you might find they spend a lot of time with their butt in your face!

They Want a Fuss

A contented cat lying on its back, inviting a belly rub, and displaying trust and comfort in its environment.

When your cat is in a good mood and is enjoying you petting them, you might notice they raise their butt and tail as you’re stroking down their back.

When your cat is in a good mood and is enjoying you petting them, you might notice they raise their butt and tail as you’re stroking down their back. So, by the same token, when they wave their butt around in front of you, they could be telling you they want more of the same.

Why not read this article on how to pet a cat to help you show your cat some love?

They’re Saying Hello

You might know that dogs often greet each other with a butt sniff, but cats are pretty similar. When cats are greeting someone they like, they often stick their bum in their face. It’s just another form of visual communication.

They Trust You

When cats show you their butt, they’re putting themselves in a vulnerable position. Not only is your cat’s backside a private area, but if they display their bottom, they have to face the other way. This means that they are less able to defend themselves. Hence, butt displays are reserved purely for special, trustworthy humans!

Is It a Good Thing if Your Cat Puts Their Bum in Your Face?

A playful cat with its hindquarters in the air, exhibiting a relaxed and curious posture.

A cat showing their butt to you is a compliment! You can feel good about receiving this gesture from your feline friend.

If you look at all the reasons, you can see that your cat showing you their butt isn’t meant to be offensive at all. In fact, it’s a gesture that is a combination of instinct, love, and trust. However, just because it’s well-meaning and comes from a good place, doesn’t mean there aren’t some concerns you should be aware of:

  • Bacteria are rife around your cat’s butt, for obvious reasons. Even though cats are very clean animals, there’s still a risk of picking up an infection from fecal matter on your cat’s rear end.
  • Parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, and toxoplasma are also found in cat poop. These can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and even pregnancy complications in people.

To reduce the risk of becoming unwell, you should always wash your hands thoroughly after petting your cat. This is especially important to teach young children who might be more susceptible to becoming contaminated with cat poop, bacteria, and parasites.


As humans, it can be hard to understand some cat behaviors. In fact, when cats show you their butt it would be understandable if you were a bit shocked or even repulsed.

Remember that this behavior is very normal for cats and isn’t meant to be unpleasant. It might just be your cat’s way of saying ‘Hello’, ‘I trust you’, or ‘I want you to pet me’.

On the other hand, licking their rear end excessively, or rubbing their butt on the floor could be an indication of an underlying allergy or a sign of fleas, worms, or other irritation.

This is especially true if you notice a thin coat around the base of the tail, or spot flea bites or flea dirt. So, if you’re worried that your cat has an itch or flea allergies and you haven’t given effective flea prevention recently, speak to a vet.

Also Read: The 11 Best Flea Treatments for Cats

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats put their bums in your face?

Cats put their bums in your face for a variety of reasons. From one perspective, it's a normal biological instinct that begins as young kittens when their mothers groom them. It’s also a sign of companionship and trust, a form of greeting, and a way of letting you know they want a fuss.

Why do cats put their buttholes on you?

Cats have scent glands in many places on their body, but there are lots around the tail base, back legs, and rear end. These produce and release pheromones which are their unique scent. By rubbing their bottom on you, they're making sure you smell like their scent.

This scent marking behavior lets other cats know that you belong to them, but it also reassures your cat when they’re surrounded by their own smell. Of course, no one wants their cat to rub their butt on their face or cheek, so try to keep your distance while appreciating the gesture!

Why does my cat sleep with his bum towards me?

Your cat's backside is their most vulnerable area. If they are approached from behind by predators, they might not see them coming. So, if your cat sleeps with their bum toward you, it means they can fully relax because they trust you to keep them safe. Think of it a bit like being their personal bodyguard!

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About Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVETMED MRCVS

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but as the small animal hospital became busier, she focussed on small animals. Hannah is an expert on cat behavior and nutrition.

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