Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth On You?

Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth On You

Cats have a way of charming us with their peculiar behaviors, from kneading with their paws to headbutting and even showing us their behinds. But one behavior that might leave you puzzled is teeth rubbing. Why do cats rub their teeth on you? Is there a reason to worry? Let’s dive into this intriguing behavior and uncover the secrets behind it.

Marking You As Family

The most common reason why cats rub their teeth on you is to mark you as theirs. By doing so, they are essentially marking their territory and indicating that you are an important part of their family. Cats have scent glands located in their mouths, and when they rub their teeth or gums on you, they leave behind pheromones that serve as a unique scent signature. Other cats can sense these pheromones and understand that you belong to another cat’s territory. So, when your cat rubs its teeth on you, it’s their way of saying “I love you” and including you in their circle of trust.

Why Do Cats Rub Their Teeth On Things?

Cats have various reasons for rubbing their teeth on objects or people. One of the main reasons is communication. By rubbing their teeth or gums on you, they are conveying important messages. This behavior can also be a sign of dental issues or teething.

Dental Diseases

If your cat suddenly starts rubbing its teeth or gums on you, it could be an indication of dental issues. Dental diseases are common in cats, especially as they get older. Studies have shown that 50-90% of cats over the age of 4 have some form of dental disease. Conditions like feline gingivitis and periodontitis can cause discomfort and pain in your cat’s mouth. Rubbing their teeth on you might be their way of seeking temporary relief from the sore gums. It’s essential to consult a veterinarian if you suspect dental problems in your cat. They will provide the necessary treatment, which may include toothbrushing routines, scaling, or tooth removal.

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For kittens, rubbing their gums on you might be a sign of teething. Just like human babies, kittens go through a teething phase. Their baby teeth start coming in around 2-4 weeks of age and fall out between 3-4 months, making way for their adult teeth. During this phase, kittens may seek pain relief by rubbing their gums on soft surfaces, including your skin. It’s important to distinguish teething from dental diseases. If you’re unsure, a visit to the vet can provide clarity.

Overstimulation From Petting

Have you ever experienced your cat rubbing its teeth on you after a long petting session? This behavior could be a sign of overstimulation. Cats have sensitive hair follicles, and prolonged petting can cause discomfort. When they’ve had enough, they try to communicate it through body language, including rubbing their teeth. Pay attention to other signs such as tail swishing or tense body language. If your cat shows signs of overstimulation, it’s best to give them a break to avoid potential aggression.


Cats are naturally curious creatures, always eager to explore their surroundings. Rubbing their teeth on objects could be their way of using all their senses to discover more about their environment. They might be trying to taste the object to gather information. However, when it comes to rubbing their teeth on you, it’s more likely a sign of affection and familiarity.

How to Respond to Your Cat’s Teeth Rubbing

Understanding the reason behind your cat’s teeth rubbing will help you respond appropriately. Here are some clues for each possible reason:

  • Marking Their Territory: Your cat will rub against you with their whole body, not just their teeth. Return their love with a gentle scratch in their favorite spot.
  • Dental Diseases: Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Teething: Provide chew toys and wet food to help ease their discomfort. Avoid letting them chew on your fingers.
  • Overstimulation: Move your hand away to avoid further discomfort. If your cat wants more attention, they will let you know.
  • Curiosity: If your cat is rubbing on objects rather than you, they might be exploring or trying to learn more. Allow them to satisfy their curiosity.
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In conclusion, when your cat rubs its teeth on you, it’s a sign of affection and marking you as part of their family. However, be mindful of other potential reasons like dental issues, teething, overstimulation, or curiosity. Understanding your cat’s behavior will strengthen your bond and deepen your connection. Remember, every interaction with your cat is an opportunity to show them love and care.

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