Most of us have seen a cat rub his head against people, objects or even other cats. This activity is referred to as “chinning.” What is the purpose of this unique behavior? This is actually a form of communication. Cats have special scent glands located in various places, including around the mouth, chin, forehead and lips. These scent glands secrete pheromones. When a cat rubs his face against things, it leaves his scent on that object or person, and is your cat’s way of saying “This is mine!”
Cats also use this scent marking to convey information to other cats. Chinning an object will override a scent left by other cats. Rubbing against other cats, referred to as “allorubbing,” can be considered a cat handshake. It helps establish a group scent identity which helps cats feel safe and secure in their territory.
You may observe that your cat seems content and happy when engaging in this behavior. When your cat rubs his head against you, you should feel proud that he has claimed you as his own!