What Does It Mean When Cats Nuzzle at Your Neck?

"Don't move. I made myself comfortable."
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It's awfully cute when Tom jumps up on your lap, climbs up your chest and nuzzles your neck. While nuzzling, he'll purr, knead his paws and have the most blissful look on his face. He's treating you like one of his own littermates, but he's also secretly claiming you as his own prize.

Showing Affection

It might be a little annoying when Tom shoves his face right in front of yours and blocks your view of the television. He's not intentionally trying to make you miss your favorite show, it's just the feline way of saying hello. Since Tom already feels comfortable with you, he has no problem getting close to your face to greet you, showing you how much he cares about you. He'll sniff your nose, rub up against your chin and nestle up right next to your neck. Scratch his head or rub his back to let him know that you adore him as well.

You Belong to Him

Part of the reason Tom nuzzles up close to your face is to prove that he owns or possesses you. In his mind, nuzzling your neck establishes the fact that he has you at his beck and call. It is kind of true, right? After all, you do clean up after him, give him food when he demands it and are always there scratch that annoying itch as soon as he shoves his head under your hand. In the feline world cats control owners, not the other way around.

Sharing His Perfume

Cats have scent glands all over their bodies -- on their paws, under their tails and in their cheeks. When Tom is pressing his face into your neck, he's coating you with his own signature perfume. Human noses can't smell it, but if another kitty comes nearby, he'll smell Tom's unique essence on you. This signals to other felines that another cat already owns you and they need to go find another human to take over.

Other Behaviors

Tom may also nibble or lick your neck and chin while he's nuzzling up next to you. These gentle little bites and licks are similar to kissing among humans. He'll also push and pull your clothing in a kneading motion, mildly digging his claws into your skin. He's simply showing you that he loves you, appreciates all that you do for him, and wants you to stay in his life forever. If his biting and kneading becomes painful, he might be agitated or want to play. Put him down and give him something else to chew on, other than you.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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