Why Do Cats Rub Around People’s Legs?

Why do cats rub around people’s legs? It’s all about pheromones and mingling our scent with yours.

 

Cats rub around people's legs to mingle scents.

When your cats rub your legs, they’re mingling their scent with yours.

Why do cats rub around people’s legs, Thomasina? Does that mean my cat loves me?
— Flattered

Hi, Flattered!
Ohhh… how nice! Cats do rub around people’s legs to show they love them. I guess… Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Did you know we have scent glands in our cheeks, foreheads, chins, the base of our tails and our paw pads? So when cats rub people’s legs, they’re making their people smell like them. That’s a way of showing love, I guess, or at least possession.


Why Cats Rub People’s Legs: The Power Of Pheromones

 

This gets a bit technical, but my human typist thought we should add it. All those scent glands we have release microscopic compounds or pheromones. Like human fingerprints, every cat’s pheromones are unique. So if Muffitt and Belle rub against our human before I do, I know both of them have been there.

When she pets Muffitt and Belle and then pets me, she’s getting her scent on us, too. And with these blended scents, we all smell like one big, happy family.

Going over your cats with a slicker brush or grooming glove is another good way to mingle scents.

Different pheromones also send different messages. The pheromones in our cheeks are comforting and calming. We use them and the ones in our paw pads to mark our territory.



When we claw a fence post, for example, we’re letting other cats know we’ve been there. Believe it or not, the other cats can tell by the scent whether we’ve just left or if we were there a while ago.

Your cat can do the same thing with a scratching post if you put it near the entrance to his favorite room.


Love Me, Love My Scent

Hate to say it, but cats rub people’s legs to get their attention when they really want something, too. But I’ll bet your cat is covering you with “familiarization pheromones” (with what?? My human typist just had to add that) because he loves you.
Oops! I hope this answers your question because I need to get going now. Muffitt just got off our human’s lap, and our human now smells like her. My pheromones have some work to do! 

 

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