Why Do Cats Put Their Butt in Your Face? · The Wildest

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Why Do Cats Put Their Butt in Your Face?

Oh, hello.

Woman petting her cat at her desk.
Mihajlo Ckovric / Stocksy

I’m desperate for a time when we can ask our cats why they do what they do and get their side of the story. Maybe in the future, technology can make that happen. In the meantime, we’re left doing our best to try and decipher our cat’s complex library of body-language cues, including the ever-present cat butt in your face. 

Why do cats put their butt in your face?

Whether you’re in bed trying to sleep, sitting on the floor trying to get in a little yoga, or relaxing on the couch, having a cat means having a cat butt in your face more often than you’d probably like. 

Being masters of body language, there’s no question our cats do this seemingly strange behavior intentionally. In fact, if you look closely, you may find that your cat puts their backend in your face in many different ways — and each can have a different meaning. Let’s figure out what your cat is saying with the turn and swish of that furry backside.

Normal behavior

This is 100 percent normal behavior — not for humans, but certainly for cats. Just the fact that they don’t wear pants is a good indication that they’re less self-conscious about their butts and “down-unders” than we are. 

But seriously, there are multiple situations where cats interact with each other’s backend. Females often present their posterior to males as a mating behavior. Very young kittens aren’t able to pee and poop on their own. It’s actually the stimulation of being licked by their mother in those areas that helps them. And, of course, mom wants to keep them clean until they’re old enough to groom themselves. 

Scent-marking involves the backside, which we’ll talk about later. Even that simple rubbing along the length of the body that cats do when they’re happy to see each other involves the butt. It’s a powerful tool for communication and connection in a cat’s world.  

Signs of affection

Is it possible your cat is showing you this not-so-pleasant angle because they love you? Yep. Think about how friendly cats often greet one another. They rub along each other’s bodies and sniff the backend. You’ve probably even seen photos of two cats bringing their butts and tails together to form a heart shape. All of these touching and sniffing behaviors involving the backend are friendly and loving. It’s only natural your cat would do the same to you. It’s a lot like headbutting from your cat, just using the other end. 

There’s also some wonderful bonding that happens when mothers lick their kittens in their nether regions. Your cat may look to you for similar bonding — thankfully without the licking. 

Signs of trust

If your cat is turning their back to you, while the rest of their body language is relaxed and open, it’s a good sign that they trust you. After all, in that position, all their defenses face the other direction. If they were worried about their safety, they’d face the teeth and claws in your direction and not take their eyes off of you. 


This is where things get a little less pleasant for humans. Cats produce scent in some unattractive places, like their anal glands. They’re also covered in scent glands, even on the back feet and back of the legs. Rubbing you deposits their scent on you. This is one way your cat communicates their affection, does a little self-soothing, and lets other pets know you two are connected. 


Cats are smart enough to make note of anything that gets you to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to them — even if that attention is you yelling, “Eww! Stop it, cat!” A cat butt in the face generally gets a reaction of some kind, so your cat will happily use that tactic when they want a little love. 

Is it a good thing if your cat puts their butt in your face?

That may depend on whom you ask. From your cat’s perspective, it’s generally a positive interaction. You may not feel so great about it on the surface. But now that you know some of the reasons behind it, hopefully, you’re a little more open to the idea — within reason, that is. There are some things to be aware of. 

Health concerns

Pee and poop carry bacteria. There are even diseases that can pass from animals to people (called zoonotic diseases), such as salmonella, that are spread through bodily fluids and poop. Parasites, like tapeworms eggs and roundworms, can live in the gastrointestinal tract and can be found in poop or around the backend. 

Some kitties aren’t great at grooming themselves. It’s common for long-haired cats to have some unhygienic fur around their butts. That’s not something you want to get up close and personal with. 

It’s best to keep your face from touching this area. Wash your hands or any other body parts that come into contact with a kitty butt, just as a precaution. 

How to stop a cat from putting their butt in your face.

The best way to stop an unwanted behavior is to reward the behavior you’d rather see. You also need to think about why your cat is putting their butt in your face. Is it an attention-seeking behavior that happens every night when you’re focused on the TV, or midday when you’re working on your laptop? Is it a friendly greeting when you finally sit down at the end of the day? If you can find the reason for the behavior, you can meet that need in other ways before your cat resorts to their “butt in face” tactics.

Try giving your cat some attention before they resort to their butt tactic. Take a midday break from work for a few minutes of bonding. When you sit on the couch, and your cat is nearby, call them over for a quick pet. Meet that need before they ask. 

Then, it’s all about rewarding the preferred behavior. When your cat shows affection or requests attention in other ways, pile on the love. Show them they don’t have to resort to full butt exposure to get your attention. Give some love when they approach, sit next to you, or put their front paws on your lap. Make it extra special so they learn, “Hey, this is the way to go when I need a snuggle.” 

If your cat continues to put their butt in your face, neutrally interrupt that behavior by just getting up and moving away. Don’t say anything to them. Remember, even your negative response is attention. Just get up, walk away, and wait a minute or two. Then, come back and meet that need for attention. Show your cat that the butt in the face isn’t really getting them anything. But being near you in other ways gets them all the love. 

FAQs (People also ask)

Is it normal for cats to stick their butts in your face?

It is absolutely normal for your cat to stick their backend in your face or just turn it toward you. Cats aren’t people. They communicate differently than we do, replying primarily on body language. For better or worse, sometimes that body language includes you getting a close-up view of your cat’s butt.

Why is my cat holding her bum up?

Cats lift their backend up in the air for many reasons. It’s often referred to as “elevator butt” when they do it in response to petting at the base of the tail. The backend may also lift high when a cat is spraying to mark an area, or faux spraying, which looks a lot like spraying but is actually an excited posture. 

What does it mean when a cat sits with its back to you?

There’s no one meaning for your cat sitting with their back to you. It could simply be that something in the other direction has their attention. But it’s a good indication that they feel secure near you. Cats generally don’t face away from something that makes them nervous unless they’re in serious hiding mode. In most cases, turning away from you means they trust you enough to turn their attention elsewhere.


LeeAnna Buis hugs a black cat

LeeAnna Buis, CFTBS, FFCP

LeeAnna Buis has adored cats her entire life and thought she knew them inside-out and sideways. But it wasn’t until she worked with a feline behavior consultant that she fully understood how incredible, complicated, and inspiring cats really are.

LeeAnna earned her certification through Animal Behavior Institute, earning the CFTBS designation. She is a certified Fear Free trainer, a training professional member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), and a member of both the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and Cat Writer’s Association (CWA).

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