Comfort In High Places
When someone adopts one of my foster kittens I always ask if they have a cat tree. Most adopters have one but sometimes the potential adopter looks confused. Im often asked why they need cat furniture when they have a home full of furniture. I explain the cat tree is great for teaching a kitten where scratching and clawing is allowed , but the tree also provides the kitten a high, safe place.
Symptoms Of Head Trauma In Cats
The signs you observe will vary depending on the location and severity of the head trauma. Sometimes, there will be physical signs of an injury, but other times, you wont see any signs besides behavior that just seems unusual. Some of the most common head trauma signs include:
- Different pupil sizes
- Rapid or unusual eye movement
- Stiff limbs
- Bleeding from the ears or nose
- Varying levels of consciousness
Why Cats Head Bump
Many species, including cats and humans, enjoy friendly touch and use touching as a means of communication. One of cats more distinctive and delightful ways to express themselves with touch is head-bumping, also called head-butting, head-bonking, or bunting. Cat behavior consultant and author Pam Johnson-Bennett explains this behavior well:
When comes up to you, lowers his head, and seems to butt it gently right in your face he may me doing what is referred to as bunting. This is a very affectionate behavior that is displayed only toward another companion animal or human family member. Bunting is a very respectful way that a cat shows affection.1
Bunting also leaves a youre in my club scent mark on the buntee.
Some cats are quite enthusiastic with their bunting. You may occasionally get your eyeglasses knocked slightly askew, or be momentarily startled when your cat affectionately rams his head into your nose. Of course, thats a very small price to pay for genuine kitty love.
When you come home and your cat trots over to greet you, you may want to kneel down and lower your head so your cat can execute a full head bump and give you a proper feline welcome.
Bunting is often the equivalent of a spirited high five. Or it can be a spontaneous expression of happiness or appreciation. At times it may mean much more, as in this anecdote:
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What To Do If Your Cat Is Head Pressing
So, you can see why identifying the reasons for cat head pressing behavior can be a tricky business.
However, the bottom line is this. If your cat is displaying any of the above symptoms, dont wait and try to figure it out on your own. It is vital that you get veterinary help immediately. Depending on the nature and severity of the symptoms, your veterinarian may then refer your cat to a neurological specialist.
One final note about head pressing cats is that the behavior shouldnt be confused with what occasionally appears to be a cat head pressing while sleeping. A cat head pressing while sleeping is much more likely to be a great deal less worrisome.
Some cats naturally like to sleep with their head down or tucked against the side of an armchair or their bed, and they look all the sweeter for it.
Cat head rubbing, meanwhile, is a completely different thing. So lets take a look at that next.
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Head Bunting Versus Head Pressing
Almost the opposite of head bunting is head pressing. When a cat presses their head against us, a wall, or other surfaces, its a sign of severe discomfort. It could be the result of hypertension, head injury, a tumor, or a developing neurological problem. Watch for wincing, vocalizing, irritability, and disorientation. Any and all of these behaviors mean there is a medical emergency and a vet visit should happen immediately.
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Youre Part Of The Family
You might notice that your cat particularly likes to head bunt after youve come home after being out of the house for a while.
A cats world is full of smells, and while their eyesight is really good as well, they tend to rely on their sense of smell. This is why theyll scent mark their territory. Head bunting is similar, but its also a little different. Head bunting is to create a communal scent, so that every member of the colony shares the same smell. This means that a cat can instantly tell who belongs who his family, and who doesnt.
When you come home from work, your cat will often head bunt as part of his social bonding rituals. Hes partly telling you that he loves you, but hes also telling you that the communal scent has been wearing off, and he needs to intensify it. Hell release pheromones from the scent gland on his head. These glands are above the eye, and below the ear. You might notice this spot looking thinner than the rest of his coat as he ages.
When Is Head Bunting Not Head Bunting
When head butting is really head pressing, a loving cat owner should worry. A cat who is not trying to deposit scent but is attempting to relieve discomfort in her head may press her head against you, the wall, or other objects. How can you tell the difference? If your cat is not herself if she appears disoriented or if shes irritable it could be a sign of a neurological problem, such as a head injury or tumor, or even hypertension. This is a not a wait-and-see situation. An immediate trip to your veterinarian or an emergency vet is called for.
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When Cats Headbutt Other Animals
Technically, the cat headbutt were so familiar with is called head bunting. Bunting is a behavior associated with social bonding, and even big cats do it with their friends and family. Lions like to headbutt other members of their pride as a way of recognizing their family dynamic. According to cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennet, putting their head so close to another is a sign of trust and friendliness.
Cats also headbutt as a way to mark and exchange scents. Felines have scent glands all over their bodies. When they rub their head on another cat, they create a group scent that signifies a close bond.
Reason For Cat Bunting
Why do cats headbutt? They engage in this behavior to help create a colony scent. During this process, they are using some of their scent glands, which are located in their cheeks, lips, forehead, flanks, paw pads and tail, to leave their scent on you or another object. This scent comes from their pheromones, which we cant smell, but is clear to themselves and other cats. Leaving their scent helps cats with:
- Bonding with other cats
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Why Do Cats Head Bump You
Cat head butting, also known head bunting, head bumping, or head rubbing, is a behavior associated with a positive emotional state.
It may be performed by your cat as a sign of familiarity. For example, he may use it as a way to greet you when youve been out at work or when you let him in after hes been out hunting in the garden.
In fact, adult cats perform head rubs on people in a very similar manner to the way they rub other cats. So, if you respond by stroking or scratching them around the head, you are grooming them just as another cat might do!
Its no wonder, then, that cats respond best to us when we stroke them in these areas. Youre likely to get a much better reaction here as opposed to stroking them on other areas of the body, such as the back and tummy, which might lead to a more confrontational response!
Its also worth bearing in mind that some cats might not want any stroking at all in response to a head butt. So its important that you understand your cats individual preferences when it comes to physical interaction. It could just be their way of saying, Hey.
Do Cats Appreciate An Open Hand As A Greeting
The simple answer is no. Cats do not appreciate an open hand as a greeting. Now, this may come as a surprise, as humans, including little kids and babies, consider an outstretched hand, a sign of peace and affection.
However, the same doesnt stand true for cats. The reason is that cats consider an open hand as a sign of aggression rather than friendship. Theyd think that youre going to attack them if you greet them with an open hand.
Moreover, a closed fist may be a sign of aggression for humans. Yet, for cats, a closed fist along with an extended forefinger is a sign of friendship and greeting.
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Why Do Cats Head Bump
Cats head bump to communicate. Cats primarily communicate through scent. A head bump deposits a small amount of your cats scent pheromones on your skin. This lingering scent-marking identifies you as safe.
Many cat owners and feline veterinarians and behaviorists also believe cat head bumps are a sign of affection. But until we can speak cat we will never know for sure.
The Secret Of The Slow Blink
When cats encounter strange humans or other cats they don’t know, they usually greet them with an unblinking stare. Slow blinks can be a sign of contentment and affection. You can slowly blink back at your cat and see how long the exchange lasts. This blinking can be a way to bond with your cat without touching her. This is especially important with a new cat or an older cat she may have had some bad experiences before being adopted into your loving home.
Finally, cats communicate with their tails, as well. Many cats use a question mark shaped tail to greet someone they like or to signal they want to play. A tail in the full upright position also indicates familiarity, trust, and affection.
Whether it is tail signals, slow blinks, head bumps, or just leg rubbing, cats show their affection in many ways and greet the people they trust and love with these body language quirks. Understanding these types of greetings can help you better interact with her and strengthen your bond over time.
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Understand The Underlying Causes Of Bumps On Your Cats Skin
There are many possible causes behind the bumps on a cats skin. Determining what caused your cats bumps is key to knowing how to treat them.
Papulonodular dermatoses can be caused by:
- Mange: an inflammatory skin disease brought on by the Demodex mite
- Bacterial infection of the hair follicles
- Fungal infection of the hair follicles along with a secondary bacterial infection which may manifest in pus-filled, spongy lesions
- Glands inflamed by oil
- Body cells crowding the skin
- Overexposure, or negative reaction, to sunlight
- An abnormal growth of tissue
Of course, the underlying cause is not for you to figure out, yourself. Through laboratory tests or from your first visit alone, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose these bumps.
Head Bunting Not Head Butting
Lets get science-y for a minute. Even though a cat is most surely head butting you, the correct term used by animal behaviorists is head bunting.
Cats have scent glands in various places around their bodies, including their heads. The head glands used for bunting are located between a cats eyes and ears and theyre called temporal glands. Temporal glands produce a fatty substance containing pheromones that a cat can transfer from herself to objects, people, and other animals. The fur covering this area is usually the thinnest on the cats body and is sometimes a little oily from the gland.
Contrary to popular belief, a bunting cat is not claiming you, or trying to dominate you. A cat feeling insecure about his territory would leave a urine scent behind. This is not to say that cats dont rub their scent glands on things to mark them, its just that head bunting is a far more complex communication behavior than simple claiming would describe.
The head bunt is first and foremost a social, friendly behavior. Its what scientists call an affiliative behavior, an act designed to encourage closeness in a group of cats, or in this case, cats and people.
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Causes Of Head Trauma In Cats
Head trauma occurs after a cat is hit in the head with a blunt or penetrating object. This is common when the cat is involved in a car accident or fight with another animal. It can also occur when the cat accidentally falls from a great height or down a flight of stairs. Head trauma can also occur if the cat is intentionally or accidentally stepped on or hit in the head.
What If A Cat Doesnt Head Bunt
All this talk about cats and head bunting behavior can make it seem like those who dont head bunt are unusual. But we have nothing to worry about. Kitties are different everywhere, and there are a wide range of communication methods a cat may prefer. While head bunting is a way many cats express trust and friendship, a cat that doesnt use this method is not a problem. It just means they show their affection in other ways. Watch for slow blinks, grooming or licking us, and cats who bring us gifts, such as rodents, toys, and insects. Many cat guardians miss it, but when cats show excitement at our return home by greeting us at the door, they are showing affection and trust. An upright tail, kneading, and even the simple act of being near us and sharing space are bonding activities. Cat love is often subtle, so the key is to observe and learn what our cats are really telling us.
For more about cat behaviors and how to learn about what they are telling us, check out this article about cat kneading, Why Do Cats Knead? or check out this piece, Cat Communication: Are You Listening?
- “The Art of Bunting,” Catnip, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
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Diagnosis Of Head Trauma In Cats
Talk to your veterinarian about any signs you have observed, and when you first noticed them. If you know your cat was involved in some sort of altercation or accident, make sure you mention this as well.
The veterinarian will need to begin testing right away if he suspects there is head trauma. First, the cats vital signs will be taken to determine if the condition of his heart and respiratory system. A light may be shined into your cats eyes to check the size of the pupils and his eyes response. X-rays and CT scans may be performed so the veterinarian can determine if there is any brain damage, and if so, to what extent. These tests can show skull fractures, tumors, brain swelling, and bleeding, so they are vital in the diagnosis of head trauma.
If the tests show there is swelling in the brain, the veterinarian may collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, which is found in the brain. Brain infections can often cause swelling, so the fluid will need to be tested for the presence of bacteria so the veterinarian can eliminate this as a cause of your cats signs.
Drawing Back Their Lips When Smelling Something
Sometimes, you may notice your cat sniffing something, making a bit of a funny face and opening its mouth. This is known as the Flehmen Response Flehmen meaning curl the upper lip in German. When your cat is smelling something that is unusual or of interest to them, they will open their mouth to allow the scent to reach the roof of it, where a second scent organ is located. This organ is called the Jacobson organ and it amplifies your cats sense of smell. Its mainly used to analyse pheromones and other scents.
Thu Mar 10 2016
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Why Do Cats Head Bump Humans
by Pet Care Clinic of Doral | Jan 22, 2017 | Health
Does your cat ever walk up and head bump you? Congratulations, youre part of the crew! Thats right cats do this to members of their colony as a sign of unity. And here you thought it was just your cat being bossy!
Cats head bump each other and others to create a communal smell because cats recognize each other by smell before anything else. What your cat is really trying to tell you is, Hey, I want you to smell a little more like me but dont worry I still love you! How is this done? Cats can activate the scent glands on their head just above the eye and below their ear, which excretes pheromones that they in turn rub on you. Just like that, youre now part of the crew!
If youre reading this and wondering why your cat doesnt do this, dont stress! Not all cats are part of the head bumping community. There is a hierarchy in cat colonies, and only the most confident cats are the ones that head bump.
Now that you know your cat is head bumping to say, I love you, its time to give the love back. You can head bump your cat right back, pet them, scratch their chin, or anything else that you know they love. This will be a great way for you and your cat to bond.
Cats are complicated, but it is good to know that some of their weird little quirks are just their way of saying, I love you. Continue to build a bond with your pet and give the had bumps back when they come your way! Your cat will appreciate it.