This is a cat-to-human friendly nose touch greeting. Cats who are friendly with each do it a lot combined with the tail up and scent exchange rubbing including head butting.
It’s very hard for a domestic cat to greet us with the classic feline ‘nose touch greeting’ for the obvious reason that we are enormously different in height. Cats will greet us by rubbing up against the calves of our legs, perhaps hopping up on their hind legs to raise their height in an effort to scent exchange with their heads. It’s important for cats to scent-share with members of their adopted human family because it makes them feel more at home with their human companions.
They also greet other cat with whom they are friendly by touching noses and with their tails up. The two often go together. You may have seen it in videos. Both the tail up position and touching noses indicate a friendly demeanour and attitude towards the other cat.
In my home I give my cat a chance to do the friendly, classic feline nose touch greeting with me as you can see in the video on this page. This happens as part of a ritual when I return home from the gym first thing in the morning before breakfast. He knows the routine and asks to be picked up for a rub (scent exchange) and then a nose touch. After this he gets his treat.
He does it quite naturally and he likes to do it. They say that domestic cats sniff when they do the nose touch greeting but I am not sure that this happens because I don’t see him sniffing. I think it is simply about touching, making contact but there may be a very faint sniff going on as well. If there is sniffing then he is sniffing my breath perhaps as a reassurance because he recognises every aspect of me in terms of how I smell. It’ll be for the same reason that he sniffs my hand.
Do you greet your cat by touching noses in this way? If so how do you achieve it? A quick note to say that it’s important to be sure that your cat will accept it. I know my cat will but when we place our face close to the face of our cat companion it can be a little intimidating to some cats and they may strike out. So don’t do it unless you are certain that he or she will enjoy it. However it does give a cat an opportunity to express this particular behavioural trait in a single cat household and it is a bonding exercise.
P.S. I hate seeing myself in these videos because I look so knackered and old but then that’s the way it is.