Why Does My Cat Rub His Teeth On Me? Bonding, Teething, and More

Every cat owner has seen his cat rubbing himself either on its favorite sofa or just any furniture at home. While this may be normal as a cat parent, what may strike your wonder is when you see your cat rubbing its face on certain things. And beyond these, your feline friend might also try and rub its teeth and mouth on you. 

This might have you thinking, why does my cat rub his teeth on me? Your cat may rub its teeth on you because it wants you to be marked as its territory or a part of it. With the scent glands on its face, the cat transfers its own scent to you and marks you as its own. It may even engage in bunting as a sign of showing affection for you by rubbing on you with its face or muzzle, wanting to be petted.

In this article, you will take a deeper look at how rubbing his teeth on you can have different meanings instead of just marking you as their territory.

Why does my cat rub his teeth on me?

Your cat may rub his teeth on you to mark you as its family, if it has dental diseases, if it is teething, or if it is overstimulated from petting. 

These reasons have been explained in detail below:

Marking You As Family

While humans may have their sweat glands all over their bodies, cats have it differently. The sweat glands of your cat are located in specific areas, such as the chin, the ears, the temples, the paw pads, and particularly inside its mouth. 

When your cat rubs itself against furniture or you, these glands are activated to release a chemical called pheromone. Pheromones remain planted on the object your cat has been rubbing on.

Since your cat’s mouth has sweat glands, when the cat rubs his teeth on you, the glands activate as well, leaving pheromone deposits on your skin. The smell of pheromone for each cat is different.

And although you can’t tell it, any other cat which isn’t your cat when it comes close to you can smell the pheromone of your cat on you. For other cats, this means that you as an object belong to another cat, and your cat, in the meanwhile, is sending a message to other cats that you belong to your furry friend and that you are his family.

Dental Diseases

Another reason why your cat could be rubbing his teeth on you is when it is afflicted with dental illness and is in pain. Dental diseases and subsequent teeth rubbing are more common in older cats, so much so that variably 50-90% of older cats have dental issues.

Your cat could be suffering from one of the most common cat teeth diseases, which is feline gingivitis. This happens when you haven’t groomed the cat for plaque build-up on the teeth, which results in attracting bacteria, damaging the teeth and gum barrier. If your cat has a poor immune system, this will trigger the gums to respond in a way that causes its gums to be inflamed, swollen, and red.

Since this can be uncomfortable and painful for your cat, and it may want to get rid of the pain by applying pressure on the gums, you may find it rubbing its teeth on you, on the furniture, or other objects to relieve itself of the pain.

So if rubbing its teeth is accompanied by abnormal mouth movements in the cat, it may be a sign of dental discomfort to him.


Another good reason why your cat may rub his teeth on you might be because it is simply teething. If your kitty is still small, the chances are that it wants to alleviate the pain caused by teething and is hence rubbing its teeth on you.

For cats, their first baby teeth come up at 2-4 weeks of age. So this time till when your cat turns 2 months of age, your cat will be extra nipping on you. Again at the age of 3-4 months, your cat will have another round of teething as the older teeth fall and make place for new ones, meaning another session of rubbing its teeth on you.

Overstimulation From Petting

If your cat has been quiet for a good amount of time and you have been petting it all the while and all of a sudden it comes and jumps at you and starts rubbing his teeth on your hands and arms gently, it may be a sign that it has had enough of your long petting and doesn’t need more as it has been overstimulated from petting.

If you sense anything like it, it would be wise to reschedule the petting for another time and give your cat some space.

Why does my cat rub her gums on me?

Your cat may rub its gums on you if it wants to show some love and affection to you.

While rubbing your teeth on you can have different meanings, rubbing its gums on you when young is a good sign that your cat has an affinity towards you. They are simply leaving their scent glands located in the mouth on your skin so that you can be marked as his. Cats may rub their gums on not just you but any other pet such as a cat or another dog inside the house to show affection.

In older cats, if you return from outdoors after long working hours or if your cat meets you after a long time, rubbing the gums can be a sign that it has missed you. 

But if it is nothing like that, another reason why your cat could rub his gums on you may be because it is hungry and is initiating the feeding time as they are ready for the meal.

Can cats smell with their mouths?

Yes. All cats can smell scents with their mouths.

This is called the Flehmen response. If you have seen your cat near strange objects or new furniture in the home and it starts to snarl at it by opening its mouth, it means that your cat is trying to gauge the scent from it using her mouth. Your cat is 40 times scent-sensitive than you, and with the Flehmen response, it can identify more details on the new object by smelling it.

Why does my cat rub his teeth on my fingers?

Your cat may rub his teeth on your fingers to mark you.

Just like dogs, cats are also territorial animals that need to mark their territory. But unlike dogs who pee to mark certain areas as theirs, cats mark their territory by leaving their scent on the owners. This could happen by your cat rubbing his teeth on your fingers or any part of your skin so that other cats can smell your cat on you.

While involving both the face and the teeth is a sign of marking you, involving just the teeth could be a sign of dental disease.

Why does my cat nuzzle me then bite me?

The reason why your cat may first nuzzle then bite you may be because it wants to show out affection for petting it but at the same time exert dominance over you by telling you to stop over-petting it.

If your cat or kitten had been playing with its mother, and she did the nuzzle then bite sequence, it would get a bite back or swat from the mom so that she could learn that it is not acceptable behavior.

But when your cat does it to you, you don’t have the ability to hiss back and explain in cat terms that this is not the behavior you want. So your best cat-bet would be to show positive reinforcement when she nuzzles and to withdraw when she bites and gets rough.

Do cats imprint on one person?

Yes. Most cats imprint on one person.

Your cat can imprint on you by rubbing its mouth and teeth on you and transferring its scent to you. When your cat learns part of your language and knows how to make you happy, it will attach with you and make an imprint on you as their favorite human.

Abandoned and then rescued cats have higher tendencies to imprint their owners than regular house cats.

Why do cats rub the corner of their mouth on things?

Cats rub the corners of their mouth on certain things to mark them as theirs. This is also called bunting.

This is more common on outdoor cats, where the feral cats engage in bunting to let other cats know that this area is theirs. It is more common in male cats to bunt than female cats as the former is more territorial. So it will spread its scent by bunting on things around or inside the house.

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