If you have ever owned a cat, you will doubtless have discovered that they love it when you pet them on their head. Cats just adore being scratched and tickled around the head and can almost fall into a trance as they soak in the pure pleasure of the experience! But what is so special about being petted around the head?
Well, it’s because this behaviour reminds our little furry friends of being groomed by their mothers when they were kittens and unable to look after themselves When an owner pets a cat on the head it reinforces the idea that they are the cat’s mother and so enhances the bond between human and animal. A head rub is a loving gesture and also reminds cats that they need to groom themselves, experts say.
In addition, there are scent glands in the top of cats’ heads which release a calming scent when the cat is scratched. Researchers have also found that cats rub their heads against people to show friendship. The glands in their heads release the scent which they use to mark their territory and this is why they are calmed when they smell it.
Rubbing their head feels pleasurable and conjures memories of their relationship with their mother when they were kittens. Head rubbing is a great way for cats to communicate without the need for complex language. In addition to showing pleasure, rubbing their owners enables cats to mark them with their scent which helps them to feel even more relaxed.
Head Scratching and Dogs
It probably won’t have escaped your notice that many dogs also enjoy a good head scratch, particularly behind the ears. Most dogs will interpret this as a sign of affection and bonding. However, some dogs find this kind of petting to be a sign of domination.
When humans pet a dog, they mark them with their scent. The majority of dogs will appreciate what amounts to an olfactory kiss, but others may not! It is important to observe an animal’s body language when you pet them in order to discover what they enjoy and what they find threatening.