Why Cats Love Shoving Their Butts in Your Face, According to Science

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Cats are definitely a mixed bag – they’re snuggly and warm, they purr, they seem happy to see us sometimes, but they also, you know, like to stick their butts in our faces and also they might be plotting our demise while we sleep.

No word on whether we really need to be concerned about the latter, but science is weighing in on why, exactly, cats enjoy showing us their “third eye.”

Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, says that cats don’t necessarily think shoving their butts in our faces is aggressive or domineering – it’s likely, instead, that they’re just saying hello.

“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity. It’s hard for us to relate to, but for them, smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is.

So cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”

Inspecting other cats’ butts is a biological measure of security – like a fingerprint scan, or showing I.D.


Other experts agree that cats use their rear end to express friendliness or affection, and that raising their tail is a sign of trust.

A cat who doesn’t may still be working on trusting you.

So, there you go – there’s no reason to think your cat is insulting you, or is trying to give you some kind of threatening message by showing you his rear.

Just the opposite, in fact, so give her a pat and thank her for being such a good friend, but if you’re going to show her yours in return, maybe keep it to yourself.