Kittens are sweet little balls of fluff and fur that easily grab and hold the hearts of their human companions in an instant. Like many animals, they often show their love and affection through physical contact.
Kittens and cats have scent glands on the sides of their faces, and rubbing their faces against yours is a way of marking you as “theirs.” Your kitty wants to smell like you, and wants you to smell like her. This is a sweet form of bonding in which a kitten shows she loves and trusts you. Don’t worry about smelling cat-like after this exchange—you won’t be able to detect the kitty’s scent.
Kittens and cats greet one another by rubbing their faces against each other, both to mark one another as members of the same “pack” and to identify each other. Your kitty sees you as part of her animal family and wants to give you the same face-to-face treatment. It's a great compliment if she bumps you with her forehead to say hi or ask for attention, a particularly affectionate behavior known as bunting.
A kitten is used to getting attention from its mother and siblings through physical touch. A kitty that rubs its face against yours is seeking physical contact and warmth. Take this as a positive sign that your kitten loves you and wants to be as close to you as possible. Be careful if you have allergies to pet dander or fur, as face-to-face contact can send you into a fit of sneezing and wheezing if you're not prepared.
Your kitty may enjoy snuggling in the crook of your neck and touching her face to yours as a way of feeling warm and cared for. Your warm breath, the closeness of your scent and the softness of your skin are comforting to her. Of course, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies—kitties may also do this if you’ve just eaten something they consider yummy and want to know more about.
As kitty rubs her face against yours, she may also knead her paws on your face, your chest or other parts of your body. This is the kind of behavior the kitten used with her mother, kneading at her body as a way to get attention and to stimulate milk flow for nursing. Take it as a good sign your kitten has transferred her natal feelings of love and trust to you. Since it's a nursing behavior, some cats even drool while kneading—you may find this less charming, but it's a sure sign that your cat feels attached to 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.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.