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Why does my cat keep rubbing against my legs?

Calico cat rubbing against legs of a jeans-wearing person.

Maybe the cat likes denim? (Photo: Flickr/Dotan Dimet)

Why does my cat keep rubbing against my legs?

November 27, 2012

Q: Why does my cat keep rubbing up against my legs as I walk? She also keeps rubbing up against me when sitting next to me. She's an older cat and new to me -- I've only had her for a week.

A: Your cat is rubbing up against your legs as a sign of affection and is also "marking" you as her own human. When cats rub up against your legs and/or rub against you with their cheeks/whisker area, the scent glands at the base of the tail and in the whisker "pockets" do the "marking" of ownership. They do this to both objects and humans -- it's instinctive. You're lucky that she has adapted so well to her new home, which is usually more difficult for older cats, and that she is displaying signs of affection for you in this short period of time.

When she rubs up against you while walking or sitting next to you, she's asking you to return the affection, so pet her and gently scratch under her chin. While you're doing this, speak to her in a gentle voice, telling her how sweet she is and how much you love her being in your home.

If you know she has this habit, be aware of her location in the house, so when you walk you don't accidently trip over her, if she's about to rub on your legs. You're very fortunate to have adopted such an affectionate and friendly kitty!

-- Answer from Cher I., cat behavior specialist on JustAnswer.

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