Cat Facts #13. Say Hello with a Nose Rub

Cats meow mostly at their humans. So how do they communicate with their feline counterparts?

Through a friendly nose rub, of course.

Just as we’d shake hands upon meeting another person, cats greet one another by rubbing their noses together. Whether these cats are meeting for the first time or longtime roommates catching up after a catnap, the greeting is the same – a gentle touch and sniff of each others’ noses.

Cats learn nose touching as kittens. They’re blind at birth, but they have fully-developed touch receptors in their noses so nose touching is the first way they make contact with their mother. And this habit sticks throughout their adult lives.

But it’s more than mere habit – nose touching allows an even social exchange that puts both cats in an equally vulnerable position while at the same time relaying all sorts of useful information from cat to cat.

As you already know, cats have a high-developed sense of smell and a simple nose touch tells a cat where the other cat has been. And since each cat has unique scent that he marks his ‘home’ territory (and companions) with, a quick nose rub allows a cat to tell whether the other cat is in his “in group.”

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