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Bunting Behavior

black cat with green eyes

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Scent Communication in Cats is Complex

Many people inaccurately assume any time a cat engages in rubbing or bunting then he is merely marking you as his territory. Scent communication is far more complex than that. Cats use scent to mark their territory, yes, but they also do it to create comforting familiarity, show respect (ex: flank rubbing another cat), create a common colony scent (important for survival and cat colony harmony), self soothe, announce sexual status (done through urine-marking), tell other cats about themselves and much more. The reason a cat uses scent depends on his immediate circumstances and the part of his body he uses. When your cat comes face to face with you and bunts or rubs, enjoy it. It’s the next best thing to a kiss on the cheek.

Need More Information?

For more specifics on cat behavior and how cats communicate, refer to any of Pam’s books including CatWise. In CatWise, best-selling author, Pam Johnson-Bennett, answers 150 of the most-asked cat behavior questions. Pam’s books are available here at our website, through your favorite online book retail site and also in bookstores everywhere.


You can find more information on cat behavior and training in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s best-selling books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s behavior or health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care. This article is for information purposes only and not offering medical advice or providing a medical diagnosis.



  1. Teena in Toronto

    One of my tabbies does this to me all the time.

  2. My cat Spot is feeling better as this is one of my favorite behaviors and I missed it when he was sick

  3. My fluffy orange tabby, Simba, does this to me all the time. I had wondered what that was all about. And yes, with him it really is a mouthful of hair. 🙂

  4. My cat Polo G and yes my other cat is Marko) does this to me all the time, expecially at nizght time. SHe will wake me up for a good belly rub.Love it.

  5. My senior male bunts me constantly. He stares at me when I am sleeping. His behavior is becoming unbearable. Wakes me up during the night rubbing his whiskers on me. Any help would be welcome. He has hyperthyroid but on meds

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