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Pet Blog

Cat Marking Territory: Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth on You

Whether they're adorably whipping out their tailskneading blankets, or meowing up a storm at night, cats will communicate their feelings. One typical feline behavior is teeth rubbing. What exactly does it mean when your cat rubs their teeth onto you? Essentially, your cat is marking you as theirs, but let’s sink our teeth into this phenomenon a little further!

How Do Cats Mark Their Territory?

Remember Phoebe Buffay's "Smelly Cat?" Well, cats do keenly rely on their sense of smell! Cats have scent glands all over their bodies, including in their cheeks, mouths, tails, foreheads, and paw pads. Rubbing these parts of their bodies onto someone or something allows them to deposit their scents with pheromones. Cats specifically have two glands in the corners of their mouth called perioral glands, so they'll rub their teeth, gums, and mouths onto things that they want to flag as theirs.

This natural behavior shows the importance of supporting their health and well-being through their diet. Feeding your cat healthy cat food, choosing grain-free cat food for sensitive stomachs, indulging them with the best cat treats for positive reinforcement, and opting for organic cat food to ensure they're getting pure, toxin-free nutrients can all contribute to their happiness and territorial confidence. Of course, you don’t always need to give them treats for a reason, sometimes they are just too cute to say no to!

Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth on You?

  • They want to greet you and show affection: When cats greet each other, they rub their faces to exchange scents. In a way, you're a big cat to them, so they'll rub their face on you to mark you with their smell. They may even stand on their hind legs to try to say hello to you at face level! When you cuddle with your kitties, they may also rub their gums onto you — this is their way of showing affection. Engaging in this bonding moment can be enhanced by ensuring they're well-fed and happy, courtesy of healthy cat food. Making sure to reinforce good behavior, especially when your cat is young, will help to make sure they become the cat you need!
  • They feel a little overstimulated: If you find your fur babies gently nibbling on you with their teeth after you pet them for some time, it may be a sign that they’re overstimulated (and no longer amused). Cats have sensitive hair follicles, so they can experience discomfort after a long petting session. Usually, most cats will let you know when they are getting too worked up.
  • They may have dental issues: Dental issues are common in older cats, so cats sometimes rub their teeth or gums on you when they feel sensitivity or pain in their mouths. Thankfully, there is plenty of cat dental chews that help support healthy teeth and mouths. Investing some of the best cat treats you can find can help your cat live comfortably and happy!

Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth on Things?

  • They’re making their presence known: Just as cats try to douse you with their scent to mark you as their territory, they do this to objects, too. In nature, cats will often spread their scent to let other cats know about their presence. Feral cats will leave if they can tell another cat is in the area.
  • They feel anxious: Cats often rub the corner of their mouths onto objects when they're anxious. When kittens do this in a new home, it may be because they’re trying to spread their scent in a new environment to feel more comfortable. You can make transitions easier on your cat with healthy cat food and the best cat treats! Just sprinkle some treats around areas in your cat’s new space and wait for them to find them. This can help encourage them to explore new areas and become more comfortable.
  • They’re curious: Cats are curious creatures! They occasionally rub their teeth onto objects to scope out a new environment. Help encourage curious and fun behavior, it can make your cat more comfortable and playful!

That wraps up the scoop on why cats rub their teeth on things—or people! Paying close attention to your kitty's mood and behavior is key to understanding the motive behind their tooth rubbing antics.

A tasty morsel of healthy cat food, or even a serving of premium organic cat food can go a long way in saying "I love you too" in a language they understand perfectly. It's a simple, yet meaningful way to strengthen your bond and keep the affection flowing between you and your furry friend. And If they just want to show you some TLC, give them one of the best cat treats to reciprocate!