Why Cats Love Head Scratches

Ahhh…nothing beats the feeling of a good head scratch, am I right?  It feels so good!  And our pets are no exception. In fact, have you realized your cat may just melt with extreme joy whenever you give her luxurious head scratches? Why is this?  According to livescience.com, the reasons differ from cats to dogs.

head scratches

It’s Hard Area For Cats To Reach

While it does make your pet feel as if she is getting your full attention, it is also a relief for your pet, as this part of the body is difficult for her to reach.

And licking the top of her head by herself?  Impossible! Basically, the top of the head is a relatively inaccessible place for your cat, so you are doing her a huge favor when you scratch her there.

Similar To Grooming

For a cat, a friendly caress on the head can remind them of their grooming routine. It could also remind them of their mothers, who licked the tops of their heads when they were just kittens.

Unlike dogs, cats may perceive a head scratch as a form of personalized grooming (of course!) or even see the owner as their mom.

Mark and Define Territory

Cats have scent glands all over their bodies, most of which are concentrated in a cat’s forehead, cheeks and chin.

When they rub on things, whether your hand or the corner of a wall, they are spreading their scent, which is how they mark and define their territory. Further, it has some calming effects for them.

When a cat rubs her forehead on a human, that is known as bunting, a friendly social behavior.

Why Dogs Sometimes React Differently To Head Scratches

A dog may muzzle its owner with his head as a sign of affection and bonding, but not all dogs really enjoy the head pats.  For some dogs, having their head scratched can appears to be a dominating gesture, just like some dogs may try to dominate over other dogs by placing their paws on top of them.  Nevertheless, a good behind the ear scratch usually goes over well with most dogs!

Observe your pet’s body language to determine if he or she is enjoying the head scratches.  If she really loves it and cannot get enough of it, though, it could be a terrible itch due to allergies or other issues that may need to be seen by the vet.




Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.