If you are a first-time owner, experiencing your Maine Coon head butting you or other objects can be really confusing at first.
Head butting is a natural cat behavior that cats use to mark others with their scent. When it is done to a human or animal, it is also a display of affection and trust. Cats will head butt each other, their owners, and even inanimate objects like walls and furniture.
I know the first time my cat head-butted me, I was at odds trying to understand what it meant! This behavior even had me wondering if there was something wrong with my cat!
Of course, head butting can have a lot of different meanings depending on context.
If you want to learn all about the nuances of your Maine Coon head butting you, then read on to find out more!
What Is Maine Coon Head Butting?
Headbutting in cats refers to a very specific action.
Cats will use their heads to bump or tap up against an object, human, or another cat. When head-butting humans, the most commonly head butt foreheads or hands.
After the initial bump or tap, the cat will rub their cheeks and chin over the object (or person) in question.
If your cat is head butting a piece of furniture, they will often bump their head or cheek against the object first, and then continue to rub the rest of their body along the object as they walk by.
Why Does My Cat Head Butt My Head?
Here are the reasons cats head butt humans and each other.
To Mark Their Scent
The main reason cats headbutt is to mark objects and living things with their scent.
Cats have scent glands on their cheeks and chin, and head butting spreads their scent to other surfaces.
When a cat head butts you, it is spreading its scent to indicate that you are a safe part of its space.
By putting its face so close to yours, your cat is displaying a deep trust for you.
It is a subtle way of saying “I trust you not to harm me, even when I’m vulnerable.”
Domestic cats descended from wild cats that lived in communities with one another.
Headbutting was used as a way of displaying affection and commonality between each other.
When a cat head butts you, it is showing that it views you as a part of its community, as well as creating a sense of familiarity.
Is It Normal for Maine Coons to Head Butt?
Head butting is a completely natural cat behavior that felines have been using well before they were even domesticated!
In fact, if your cat is head-butting you, it is a good indicator that they love and trust you.
Should I Head Butt My Cat Back?
When it comes to engaging in cat behavior, the number one rule is to be receptive to your cat’s reactions.
It’s perfectly fine to try out headbutting, but you should go slowly. You are a lot bigger than your cat, and they may initially see it as a threatening gesture!
Don’t head butt too hard, either- instead, opt for a gentle tap.
If your cat flinches away or seems upset by the gesture, then it’s time to stop.
Some cats love to head-butt their owners, but don’t exactly appreciate the gesture in return. A compromise can be to offer your hand or forehead and allow your cat to head-butt you.
If you’re lucky, though, your cat may love it when you head-butt them! (source 1)
Why Does My Cat Head Butt Me Then Bite Me?
Since you’ve learned that head butting is a sign of affection and trust, you may be confused if your cat is head butting then biting you.
However, biting in cats isn’t always a sign of aggression.
Here are some of the possible reasons why your cat might head butt and then bite you.
- You Upset Your Cat: If you invade your cat’s space while it is head-butting you, your cat may nip to show that you violated its trust or personal space. For example, if your cat was in the middle of head butting you, and you touched its paws or another area it doesn’t like, it may respond with a bite.
- Your Cat Is Being Affectionate: Cats sometimes use gentle nibbles as a sign of affection. A soft bite after a head butt can be an extra display of affection.
- Your Cat Wants Your Attention: A bite after a head butt can also mean that your cat wants something from you. It may mean your cat wants more food or would like to play (source 1).
Why Does My Cat Head Butt Me When I’m Sleeping?
Cats have very different sleep schedules from humans. They’re typically most active at dusk, nighttime, and dawn.
While you’re sleeping, your cat is probably wondering why you aren’t hanging out for some midnight playtime.
As a result, your cat might head butt you while you’re sleeping to try and wake you up.
While this can be annoying and inconvenient, it is just your cat’s way of asking you to come and play with them (source 1).
Why Do Cats Head Butt Your Hand?
Cats head butt hands for the same reason they head butt everything else- to add their scent to you.
Our hands are filled with all sorts of smells from touching things while at work, the grocery store, or other places.
If your cat feels that their scent has rubbed off since the last time they’ve head-butted your hand, they’ll try and add your scent again.
Why Do Cats Head Butt Everything?
Cats are very territorial creatures, and in the wild, they have to defend that territory from other cats and creatures.
They head-butt inanimate objects to add their scent, marking it both as their territory as well as a “safe zone.”
If they can recognize their own scent on other objects, it makes them feel safe because they know it is their space.
Why Do Cats Head Butt Each Other?
Cats may be territorial, but they are also communal. While mingling with each other, they’ll head-butt one another to share scents.
When cats live together, their scents will often mingle, creating a shared scent.
Headbutting is just another way of sharing that scent, as well as showing trust and affection for each other.
However, there may be more to head-butting than we humans understand.
While we still don’t know the exact reasons behind it, it’s believed that head butting can also be a way that cats show respect towards one another.
My Maine Coon Is Not Affectionate
Many cat owners are pleased when their cats head butt them because it is viewed as a sign of affection.
However, if you have not noticed this behavior in your cat, you may be wondering why your cat isn’t choosing to head-butt you.
Just like humans, cats have their own unique ways of displaying affection. For some cats, head-butting is one way they show their love for you.
Some cats, however, show affection in other ways.
Just because your cat isn’t head-butting you doesn’t mean that they don’t love you!
Cats are far subtler creatures than dogs, so they can seem aloof and cold at times.
However, blinking slowly at you, following you around the house, and even laying with their bellies exposed are just a few of the other ways cats show affection.
Why Does Maine Coon Bow Head to Me?
In some cases, it’s believed that if a cat bows its head to you, it’s a sign of submission and inferiority.
However, it might also mean that your cat is asking you to engage in a head butt of your own!
As mentioned earlier, if you are going to give your cat a head butt, you should start off slow.
If your cat flinches away, hisses, growls, or shows any sign of displeasure, then stop the action immediately.
Maine Coon headbutting can be a puzzling behavior at first, and you may even wonder if something is wrong with your cat.
However, headbutting is a perfectly natural behavior that cats use to add their scent to objects, humans, and other cats. Head-butting is also a display of affection and trust.
If your cat doesn’t head butt you, however, don’t be offended!
Cats have lots of different ways to show affection, and not all cats choose to head-butt to show their love.
Why Does My Maine Coon Sleep On My Head?
Cats are communal creatures who often sleep next to each other when they trust one another. A cat may sleep near or on your face if they trust you, or because they like your scent.
Feral Cat Head Butting
Domestic cats aren’t the only ones who head butt. Feral cats who live in colonies together will also butt heads with each other as a sign of affection.
Stray Cat Head Butting
If a stray cat is comfortable around humans, it may head butt you once you’ve earned its trust. Stray cats might also head-butt each other if they are friendly.