Have you ever wondered why cats rub their faces, foreheads and tails against you, other cats and objects?
Cats recognize the members of their social group or family by their appearance and smell. Every cat has its own unique smell. This unique natural feline perfume is produced in glands of the skin located at the corners of their mouths, the sides of their foreheads and along the tail. When cats great each other they sniff these areas. Cats rub or bump their heads against objects, people, other cats and familiar dogs and in doing so they spread their scent. Doing this behavior within the ‘family’ identifies members of that particular group.
When a cat from a multi cat household makes a trip to the veterinarian, the other feline housemates will often hiss and growl upon his/her return. The resident cats do not always immediately recognize their previous friend when the scent has been changed. One way to overcome this problem is to rub a towel over the cats at home and then on the returning cat to transfer familiar scents. This technique can be used to smooth the entry of a new cat to an existing multi cat household. The new or returning cat to have the ‘right’ smell and therefore be accepted into the family more quickly.
Dr. Troye McPherson
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