Why does my cat rub my leg?

Why does my cat rub my leg? This was a very common question about cat behaviour. People may still ask the question and the answer is quite straightforward, so I will keep it short.

Cats also rub against objects to leave scent to make
the place more friendly. Photo by Drab Makyo

When a cat rubs against our legs she transfers some of her scent that is on her to us and some of our scent is transferred to her. This is called “sent exchange". So why do cats do it? Well, cats depend upon their sense of smell far more than we do. If the place smells friendly it is friendly. For us, if the place looks friendly, it is friendly, or it usually is and we use our eyes to ascertain that, whereas the cat uses her nose. Perhaps the cat uses her nose because it is more sensitive than her eyes. The domestic cat's nose is far more sensitive than ours but the domestic cat's eyesight is less good than ours.

The cat deposits her scent on us to make the environment in which she lives more friendly. Our sent on her is a merging of body odour which is an act of friendship, which once again makes the place where she lives more friendly. Perhaps, sent exchange is is analogous to a kiss between human beings as that too is an exchange and a merger.

In short, therefore, the cat rubs against our legs to make the place where she lives more friendly and the relationship between us and her also more friendly. It is often called an act of friendship but is a little bit more than that, in fact.

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