My Old Cat Rubs Its Face On Mine: Cause for Concern or Feline Affection?

For those of you wondering, “should I be concerned when my old cat rubs its face on mine?” there’s no reason to worry. Cats like to rub against their owners for numerous reasons, and none of them are worrisome. In some cases, cats rub their faces on ours to show their affection, feel more secure, surround themselves in our scent, or mark us as a member of their tribe.   


Why Does My Old Cat Rub Its Face On Mine

“My old cat rubs its face on mine several times a day — should I be concerned?” I’ve heard this question plenty of times, and I’ve decided it merits a thorough explanation. 

Cats are the aristocrats of the pet world. They stay clean by grooming themselves several times a day, and they carry themselves with the utmost dignity. However, as they get older, sometimes cats start behaving differently. 

In some cases, they get overly clingy and use every opportunity to rub themselves against you. That’s perfectly fine. After all, this is your pet we’re talking about. However, you’re probably not always in the mood for cat-to-human face rubbing. 

The question is, why do old cats behave this way, and should you take your pet to the vet?

For starters, I’d like to put your mind at ease and tell you that, no, there’s no reason to be concerned. This behavior is perfectly normal, and it’s called head-bunting. All in all, your cat is probably rubbing its face against yours for one of these reasons:

  • It wants to show you how much it loves you. 
  • Your old cat feels insecure.
  • It wants to smell your scent.
  • It’s telling you you’re a member of its tribe.


My Old Cat Rubs Its Face On Mine

What Is Feline Head-bunting?


Bunting or head-bunting (which sounds suspiciously similar to head-butting) is typical behavior in felines. When a cat head-bunts, it rubs its face against something or someone. When doing so, it leaves its scent on the thing or person it’s rubbing against.

However, bunting can also be an attention-seeking behavior. Cats have limited resources when it comes to communicating with their owners, so they often resort to head-bunting. Unfortunately, if this is the case, it’s up to you to figure out what old Whiskers are trying to tell you!


My Old Cat Rubs Its Face on Mine: Affection


You probably already noticed that your cat likes to rub its face on anything and everything around your home. Whether it’s the leg of a chair or your old running shoes, your cat’s face has got to touch it!

There is, in fact, more than one reason for this type of behavior. For starters, cats have scent glands on their heads! More specifically, these glands are located around your cat’s chin, mouth, neck, ears, and on the side of its face. 

When your cat rubs its face on something, it’s marking its territory. So, it’s just like with dogs, only less gross! But how does this behavior apply to you? Is your cat marking your face as its property? 

In short: no. Your cat is not marking your face in any way. It’s simply showing you affection.

When your cat rubs its face on your face, it’s the feline equivalent of it saying, “I love you.” Old cats tend to do so more often than kittens because they’ve grown to love you more over time. 

Also, young cats tend to spend their time exploring, while older felines like to spend their time lounging by their owner’s side. 

Finally, your old cat could be rubbing its face against yours to tell you that it wants to receive affection. If you’ve been neglecting your feline companion, it’s time to show it some love!

Ultimately, if your cat wants to bring your attention to something, instead of rubbing, it will likely resort to nudging, so you’ll probably notice its cry for affection!


My Old Cat Rubs Its Face On Mine

My Old Cat Rubs Its Face on Mine: Feline Insecurities


As cats get older, they tend to get needy. If your cat rubs its face on yours several times throughout the day, you may think there’s something wrong with your pet (especially if this behavior is new).

Ultimately, the older your cat is, the more attention it will crave. This behavior is due to feline insecurity. At this point, you may be baffled by this new information and are wondering how it’s possible for a cat to feel insecure. 

Unfortunately, as they age, cats start to lose their sense of smell, sight, and hearing. 

Furthermore, they have less energy throughout the day, and their hunting skills aren’t what they used to be. Because of these factors, your fluffer can feel pretty insecure at times. If this is the case, your cat will likely rub its face against yours several times a day, just to get your attention. 


My Old Cat Rubs Its Face on Mine: Human Perfume


Cats have a pretty keen sense of smell, and they use it to gather information about other animals and even humans. 

For instance, your cat knows exactly who’s feeding it and when purely thanks to its keen sense of smell. So, if you forget to feed it, don’t be surprised when your pet gives you the cold shoulder!


What’s more, as I mentioned, cats have scent glands on their face. But what you might not know is that by rubbing up on your face, your cat is not only depositing its scent onto you but also picking up your scent!

Cats do this because they like to be able to smell their owner at all times, as it makes them feel secure. This behavior is especially prevalent in older cats since they tend to feel insecure (as I previously mentioned).


My Old Cat Rubs Its Face on Mine: Tribe Mentality


When a feral cat encounters a cat from another tribe, it will attack it because of its unfamiliar scent.

Feral cats use their scent to mark the members of their tribe. They do so by rubbing their heads against each other, as a form of acceptance. Domestic cats behave the same way with their owners.

Furthermore, they use their scents to communicate amongst themselves. In the same way, your cat is marking you as a member of its “tribe”. You should be honored by this behavior since it means your cat loves and respects you!

When an old cat rubs its face against its owner’s, that is just its way of showing you that you’re still a member of its tribe. 


Final Thoughts   


On a final note, for those of you wondering, “Should I panic if my old cat rubs its face on mine all the time?” I hope I’ve managed to persuade you that there’s nothing to worry about. Old cats, young cats; they all like to rub their heads on us every chance they get. 

However, as your cat gets older, it probably wants to stay close to you as much as possible, especially if it feels insecure. Ultimately, the best way to do so is to drape itself in your scent!

If you think about it, it’s sweet that your cat loves you so much. Cherish every moment you have with your feline companion, and remember to show it as much love as it shows you.





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Michael Grover

About Me I have been a pet owner for most of my life. I am now retired and spend my days writing about problems relating to cats, dogs, and funeral poems. I am passionate about stopping animal cruelty in any shape or form. My passion is to help people like you identify behavior problems in cats and dogs. That is what I do. Over the years of my life, I have always kept cats and dogs. About four years ago I retired and found I had a lot of time on my hands, so I started to write all about dog and cat problems. It was suggested that I start up a website and publish my words to help people with their pet problems. I am still writing every day and hope you find my articles useful. Regards Mike Grover

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