Ask the Vet: Why Do Cats Rub Against Your Leg?

Jan 18, 2019 by

Cat Rubbing Owner's Leg
 
Vets and animal experts have differing opinions on why our feline friends tend to saunter between our legs as we walk — often zig-zagging in front of us in what can seem like a strong attempt to trip us up.

Let’s take a look at the prevailing theories on why cats do this sometimes-perplexing behavior called bunting.
 

1. They’re staking their claim.

 
Often, cats will rub in between your legs in much the same way that they rub on things like a doorway or a couch. Some animal experts believe this is a way that cats mark objects (or people) with their facial scent — “facial” because feline scent glands are primarily located on the face (chin, cheeks, and forehead). If you have a rather bossy “this is my house!” cat, this rubbing habit could be a way to claim dominance over you.
 

2. They’re greeting you.

 
Does your cat walk under your feet and weave between your legs as soon as you get home from work or school? They may just be saying “hi”!
 

3. They have a message for you.

 
Perhaps it’s that their food bowl is empty or that they can’t get access to their litter box. It might even be that they’re bored and want to play. Rubbing can sometimes be way for cats to communicate.
 

4. They want information.

 
Does your cat like to rub up against guests to your home as soon as they arrive? Cats primarily use their olfactory system (sense of smell) to get information about their environment, so they’re probably just trying to learn more about this newcomer.

While there is no single answer to why cats enjoy bunting, one thing is for sure: Cats who feel unhappy or unsafe will not weave and rub in between a human’s legs. In other words, unless this habit really bugs you, it’s generally a positive and affectionate thing.
 
 
When’s the last time your cat had a check-up? Make your feline physical appointment today at Sunset Veterinary Clinic!

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