Hey everybody! Molly from Cat Behavior Solutions, here with your Bonding Tip of the Week. This week’s bonding tip is to scent yourself like your cat. Yup, you heard that right!
Do you ever notice your cat rubbing up against a certain corner of a wall? Or maybe against their cage or litter box? They’re not just feeling cuddly—what they’re doing is scenting their environment, communicating in cat language to everyone around them, “This space is mine.”
Cats scent their environment with glands, which live near the surface of the skin and release oils that contain pheromones, natural chemicals that help cats—and people, for that matter—communicate with one another. Cats have scent glands all over their body: at the base of their tail, in their anus area, on their ears, under their chin, and on their paw pads. Different glands give different messages, and often times, those messages identify who’s a friend and who’s a foe. This is why cats can be aggressive if they don’t recognize you, or if you (or one of their cat housemates!) smell like another cat. It’s called “non-recognition aggression.” This is why, when you see your cats rub up against things, they’re scenting with this scent gland.
The most important scent gland on a cat’s body is on the side of the face. It emits an F3 or F4 pheromone containing 40 different chemicals, and cats will rub this along things that they really like to claim them as their own. Usually, when they rub their face your legs and things like that, they’re actually scenting you.
Use this natural process to your advantage! Cats prefer things that smell like them—they’re much more comfortable with it—so rub your hand on their face and layer your own scent with theirs. This will end up creating a collective scent, a kind of chemical patchwork that communicates to a cat, “Yes, this is my family.”
So go ahead and get a little scent on your hands. Smell like a cat, and it’ll help you bond.
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