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Why does my cat rub against me?

| November 30, 2013
You come home from work and your cat showers you with affection and rubs all over you in greeting. Wait a second! What he is actually doing is “marking” you with a minute chemical hormone called a pheromone.

Wait a second! What he is actually doing is “marking” you with a minute chemical hormone called a pheromone.

It’s all about pheromones!

You come home from work and your cat showers you with affection and rubs all over you in greeting. Wait a second! What he is actually doing is “marking” you with a minute chemical hormone called a pheromone. Unlike other hormones which stay inside the body pheromones are released externally and deposited on a surface, object, another animal or even a person!

Some pheromones relate to:

  • Sexual identification
  • Marking territory
  • Warnings to other animals
  • Familiarisation, attachment and feelings of safety and security

The one that is in play when your cat delightedly rubs against you is a “familiarisation” pheromone and what your cat is doing is “marking” you to make sure you are safe, non-threatening, and even possibly re-establishing your relationship and bonding!

Tiny amounts of pheromones are released from various glands of an animal’s body, including those around the face, on the footpads, from sweat glands (especially on the abdomen) and from the animal’s anal sacs. Fortunately these pheromones are not detectable by humans – only the urine scent can be smelt (thank goodness)!

In cats, three main types of pheromones have been studied:

  1. Territorial marking – usually related to scratching and urine marking.
  2. Alarm warnings – again usually related to the above.
  3. Familiarisation with objects; environments; other cats and other species. This is when the cat rubs itself (usually it’s face or head or side) against an object, person, other animal or area. Familiarisation pheromones are mainly situated in the cheeks, chin and on top of the cats head.

The feline pheromones that are associated with familiarisation help to convey a message of well-being and a feeling of security to cats and the facial “familiarisation” pheromones can, when stimulated, even achieve changes in behaviour! Stimulating these facial pheromones help cats to cope emotionally and can help them to settle into a new home, promote exploration and calmness and establish normal feeding behaviour.

The good news is that this “familiarisation” pheromone is available in synthetic form. It’s a kind of natural, non-harmful “happy cat” medicine for stressed out cats!! Look for it at your veterinarian in either an electric diffuser spray which automatically dispenses the substance, or a trigger spray which can be sprayed into a room as well as the skirting boards. However, it is NOT a deterrent for urine marking etc. but a natural substance which, when released, makes your cat feel safe and secure. It is ideal for nervous or anxious cats and will even help them cope with the every day stresses!

Copyright & Credit:
Author: Louise Thompson
Article Source: ALL ABOUT CATS IN SOUTH AFRICA is a glossy, bi-monthly quality magazine focused on all things feline. Order the latest issue or subscribe online at  www.allaboutcats.co.za

Photo copyright and courtesy: ALL ABOUT CATS

Category: Feline Behaviour, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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