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Why Do Cats Touch Noses With Each Other? 3 Possible Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

two cats touch each other's noses

Even though cats do not communicate with one another like us, their communication methods are highly developed and sophisticated. Interestingly, cats communicate a lot of information based on their sense of smell. As a result, cats often touch noses with one another to express some sort of information.

In this article, we are going to look at the three reasons why cats often touch noses with each other. Each one of these reasons is rooted in cat communication, but what the cat is wishing to communicate through the nose touches differs.

Read on to learn more.

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Top 3 Reasons Cats Touch Noses

1. Greeting One Another

The most basic reason that cats will touch noses is as a greeting. You can think of nose touches as the cat’s form of a handshake. It allows the cats to smell one another’s pheromones and simply get used to the other. If two cats are going nose to nose and are not acting aggressively in any way, they are most likely greeting one another. You should allow the process to continue. The cats are simply getting familiar with one another.

It should be relatively easy to know when cats are greeting each other through their nose-to-nose touches. If the act is not accompanied by aggressive behavior and the cats are really taking the time to smell one another, they likely are just greeting each other.

siamese cats touching noses
Image Credit: Andreas Lischka, Pixabay

2. Smelling Where the Other Has Been

Sometimes, cats touch noses not as a greeting, but to learn where they have been. This often happens with cats who are very familiar with one another and don’t need any more introduction. Whenever a cat rubs its pheromones on something, a little bit of that thing’s scent gets on the cat. So, the other cats can smell where they have been. By touching noses, the other cat may simply be curious about what they are smelling.

If you have two cats that live together or are very familiar with one another, their nose touches should not be accompanied by any aggression. More so, the nose touches are likely to smell where the other has been if one of the cats has ventured off to new areas recently.

3. Establishing Place in Social Hierarchy

Sometimes, cats will go nose-to-nose in a more aggressive way to establish their place in the social hierarchy. Pheromones can communicate dominance and mating preference. When going nose to nose, cats will express their pheromones to establish their territory and place in the hierarchy.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice when a nose touch asserts dominance. Dominance smelling is accompanied by aggressive behavior, stiff motions, and an overall uneasy feeling. Additionally, cats will likely urinate or block the other cat’s way whenever they are going nose to nose in this manner.

If one of the cats does not back down, the nose touching can easily escalate to a catfight. Conversely, if one cat clearly has pheromones that express dominance over the other, the dominant cat will hold its ground and the other will likely skulk away.

Occasionally, even cats that like each other can go nose to nose to assert dominance. For example, house cats that live together may do this to claim territory over a favorite treat or food bowl.

siamese and mackerel cats touching nose
Image By: rihaij, Pixabay

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More About Communication Via Scent

Even though cats do not talk like humans, they have a very developed and sophisticated form of communication. Obviously, cats communicate vocally through meows, hisses, and other vocal noise. Much less obvious is a cat’s ability to communicate via scent.

mackerel tabby cat sniffing siamese cat
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay


Cats can communicate their breeding capability, sex, age, and social hierarchy through something called pheromones. Pheromones are almost like scented messages that cats use to send out information about themselves and learn information about other cats.

Cats often use pheromones to claim their territory by rubbing their faces on items. Many pheromone glands are located on the cat’s face, which makes it easy for cats to find what they want to claim and rub their pheromones on it.

Because so many said glands are located on the face, it’s likely no shock that cats go nose to nose in order to smell one another’s pheromones more closely. There can be many reasons or purposes behind going nose to nose to smell the other cat’s pheromones.

Nevertheless, three purposes for going nose to nose are more common than anything else. More specifically, cats go nose to nose to greet one another, learn where the other has been, and to establish dominance by smelling each other’s pheromones. Let’s look at each one of these messages more closely.

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What Does It Mean If a Cat Goes Nose to Nose With a Human?

Just as cats go nose to nose with one another, cats can sometimes get up in a human’s face to smell their nose. Most often, cats only smell a human nose to smell the human pheromones and learn more about them. Even though humans don’t as consciously smell one another’s pheromones, humans still have quite a few pheromones that express a lot of information. Cats are very sensitive to these pheromones and will often smell the human face to read the pheromones.

Very rarely will cats go nose to nose with humans as a sign of aggression. Cats know that humans are bigger and don’t waste their energy or time acting aggressively toward humans. On the contrary, cats that go nose to nose with humans often trust the human in question and have no ill will towards them.

For a cat to get that close to a human, the cat must feel completely at ease and safe around that human. So, you should take it as a compliment if your cat goes up to smell your nose. It is likely just curious about where you’ve been, who you are, and what you’ve been doing.

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Final Thoughts

Even though it may sound a bit strange, cats can learn a lot of information about one another by smelling the other’s nose. For this reason, cats often touch noses to learn information about each other. Whether trying to greet the other cat, learn about the other cat’s whereabouts, or assert their own dominance, going nose to nose can send many messages.

Featured Image Credit: Sandeep Gore, Shutterstock

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