I can happily write 10,000 words about all the weird habits of my cat and it still wouldn’t be enough to cover it in detail. One of his idiosyncrasies that I always find most endearing is when my cat buries his head in my hand.
To see my little furry boy all curled up next to me with his head placed snugly in my hand goes beyond what words can describe.
But why do cats bury or put their heads in their owners’ hands? When a cat buries its head in the hand, it usually means a number of things. It could be that the cat is showing affection, wants more affection, is feeling cold, wants to feel comforted or to warm up their bodies. It is a great moment for many cat owners and one to be cherished.
In this article, we will be taking a closer look at the possible reasons that would make your cat want to snuggle its head into your hands.
You Cat Is Marking Its Territory
One important thing that you need to know about your cat is that it is very territorial. It might not seem obvious but our kitties all have that territorial streak in them.
This stems from being solitary animals for most of their lives. When cats leave their mother’s nest at 3 months of age, it is time to be an adult and start taking care of themselves. No more depending on mommy for food and protection.
In the cat world, smell is everything. It will go about marking its territory will its scent. This tells other cats and animals to get lost. They have to do this to protect their food source and keep themselves safe.
A cat marks its territory by spraying urine or rubbing its face and body on the object. Our cats have many scent glands on their heads and bodies which helps to leave their unique scent signature.
Most domestic cats have been neutered or spayed hence urine marking isn’t common. When a cat rubs its head in your hands and lays there, it is your cat’s way of saying that you belong to your cat.
No ifs, no buts. You have been spoken for.
Your Cat Is Showing Affection
It is a known fact that cats will only want to be in contact with humans and animals that they love. When a cat rubs or places its head in your hand, it is also its way of showing you affection.
A cat pressing or rubbing its head against you is called bunting and you will often see cats do this with other cats that they like. My cat doesn’t seem to like head-butting me on the head. For some reason, he prefers my hand. Especially when I am using my phone, my cat will stop whatever he is doing and start rubbing his head against my hand and phone.
If your cat likes to head-butt your hand, it is a major sign that love is in the air and your feline friend loves bonding with you.
Your Cat Is Looking For Security And Comfort
Not all cats are eager to show this due to their aloof nature but they do need us more than they care to admit.
As much as I hate to admit it, there are times when I look at my cat through ‘dog-coloured’ lenses. It is evident that my dog needs and wants me by its tail wagging and incessant desire for attention.
When it comes to my cat, there can be days whereby all I get is a cordial nod of acknowledgment.
When my cat comes to me wanting to bury its head in my hand and fall asleep, it is a sign that he wants a place that he can retract to which makes him feel secure and comforted. My cat will also start to knead my arm and purr like a V8 engine.
Sort of like when kittens love to snuggle really closely with their mothers and litter mates.
Your Cat Wants More Pets
I don’t think I’ve ever met a well-socialized cat that doesn’t like to be petted. However, the key importance here is that it has to be on the cat’s terms.
Cats might not be as ‘in your face’ as dogs, but there are sociable creatures in their own right. If you have ever observed a group of cats that get along, they will often be rubbing heads and grooming each other.
You can even see these cats sleep together, all curled up closely to form one giant fur ball.
The love for physical touch in cats comes from the time that there were kittens. The mother cat will be busy licking her kittens all over all to groom them and pass on her scent. The constant grooming will lead to the release of oxytocin which helps to strengthen the bond between them.
If your cat likes head-butting your hand and resting its head in your palm, it could be signaling to you to give it more pets.
Your cat ain’t going to say “Yo dude! I’ve been acting cute for the last 5 minutes so that you’ll pet me. Don’t make me lose all my dignity!”
Many cats like being stroked at areas where their scent glands are like:
- Behind the ears
- Under the chin
- Along the side of their face
- Top of the head
My cat loves it when I cup his adorable face between my hands and use my thumbs to stroke his whole face. Not all cats will like this so don’t try it on one that you don’t know well.
Let me tell you about the story of Hopper (above pic).
Hopper was a cat that stole my heart when I was doing some volunteer work at a local shelter. His name came from the fact that he loved hopping and bumping his head against your hand. It was next to impossible to get a clear picture of him as he was constantly hopping.
He loved asking for pets and I loved giving him as much as he wanted.
This post is for your Hopper, wherever you might be.
Your Cat Is Feeling Cold
Cats run hotter than humans which gives them a resting body temperature of 101-102.5 F. This means that your cat needs more heat to stay warm.
It is common to see cats just lying out in the sun to try and get warm when the weather is cold. My cat does it at his favorite spot by the window during the colder months.
Cats can use their ears to help regulate their body temperature. If you take a look at your cat’s ears, you’ll notice that their ear flaps are pretty thin.
When they feel hot, they can increase the blood flow to their ears to lose some heat. And they can also do the opposite when it is cold.
If your cat buries its head in your hand and its ears feel cold to the touch, your cat is probably feeling cold and is trying to use you as its human blanket.
To help keep your cat warm, you can just cover your cat with a blanket or get a heated cat bed for those chilly days.
It’s Too Bright
Our cats aren’t fans of an environment that is too bright. This is because a cat’s eyes are a lot more sensitive to bright light. Their retinas allow for more light to enter the eyes which gives them the ability to see better in low-light settings.
A cat can see up to six times better in the dark which makes it a lot easier for them to hunt and move around when it is dark.
As great as this ability is, it doesn’t help when a cat wants to take a nap while it is still bright. By putting its head in your hands, it can help block out some of the light. A cat’s eyelids are too thin to act as blackout curtains. Some cats will even sleep with their faces down to block out as much light as possible.
Your Cat Just Loves Doing It
Not everything needs to have a logical explanation at times. It could be that your cat likes to place its head in your hands just because it likes it.
There are times when I wish that I could have an adult conversation with my cat about the things that he does at home.
Each and every one of our cats is a unique individual and for all you know, this behavior makes your cat happy.
Head pressing in cats is usually a sign that something is wrong with their nervous system. The cat will press its head against a hard object like the wall for no apparent reason. Some cats will even do this while they are sleeping.
There are a couple of reasons that can lead to head pressing in cats.
- Toxicity or poisoning
- Brain tumor
- Brain trauma
- Metabolic disorders
- Neurological problems
If you notice that your cart has been pressing its head on other hard objects as well, you need to take your cat to the vet for an examination. The vet will have to run some blood tests and scans to diagnose the underlying cause of the head pressing.
Cat Buries Head In My Armpit? Gross
The reason will most likely gross most cat owners out but many cats like to bury their heads in areas like the armpit due to the smell.
Cats have a very powerful and accurate sense of smell and are often led by their noses. Your armpit resembles an odor buffet for your cat.
Our armpits contain many sweat glands that help to regulate our body temperature when we sweat. Not only do these glands secrete sweat but also our pheromones to some degree.
Given that our cats are so intuned with our odors, being in close proximity to an area that smells so intensely of you could be something that your cat really loves.