Allo-Body rub

Body rubbing involves moving one side of the body along another individual’s body, creating physical contact. The behaviour is most commonly seen towards other individuals with whom the cat has an affiliative relationship and therefore, it is a behaviour often witnessed between cats of the same social group and towards owners and other preferred humans. Either side of the body can be used with the behaviour usually occurring while the cat is walking. A full length body rub involves contact from the shoulder down to the hind quarter. However, this contact may not be continuous and it may only involve certain parts of the body between the shoulder and hind quarter. For example, a short body rub may simply involve the cat making contact with another individual with their shoulder and then moving away without carrying the rub down the body to the hindquarters. A full body rub however will maintain constant contact from the shoulder to the hindquarters. Body weight is generally directed towards the object or animal being rubbed on and this may appear as the cat apparently leaning onto the individual being rubbed.

The majority of allo-rubbing begins with the instigating cat approaching the recipient with their tail held high prior to initiating the body contact. Allo-body rubbing between cats is more likely to occur if the recipient cat also has their tail held upright as it is an indicator that they are receptive and relaxed. However, even if the recipient’s tail was not initially up, they may body rub the instigator immediately after being rubbed. Body rubbing may be accompanied by other types of rubbing; it is commonly preceded by head bunting, and may be followed by tail wrapping.
In free-ranging cat social groups, intraspecific body rubbing is usually initiated by females and young individuals, rather than by males (ref needed). A pattern has been noted where kittens rub regularly on all cats except adult males, then as they grow to juveniles they rub most frequently on adult females, which tend rub on each other, as well as sometimes on adult males (ref needed). However, this pattern may vary between social groups, although rubbing between kittens and their mother is always likely.
Allo-rubbing does not just occur between cats; it is also carried out against humans or other familiar and affiliative animals and even against inanimate objects like chairs and table legs. However, in the latter case, this would be known as body rubbing rather than allo-body rubbing since the recipient is not a living organism.
Body rubbing behaviour may occur several times in succession and may be preceded or accompanied by affiliative vocalisations such as the chirrup and purr.