5. Chemical Communication - Marking behaviour Social Environment
Cats have a submandibular gland beneath their chin and perioral glands at the corners of the mouth which they rub on both inanimate and animate objects. When applied to animate subjects, facial rubbing can be intraspecific and interspecific; cats rub their faces on other cats as well as on other species such as humans and even on other animals such as familiar dogs with whom they have an affiliative relationship. To facial rub, a cat will approach the target either head on or by orientating their body parallel to the item and rub their cheek along it, beginning with the corner of their mouth and continuing to rub along in the direction their of their whiskers lie towards their eyes. Often the eyes will close or narrow as the facial marking occurs. Facial rubbing may be repeated multiple times in succession and may be preceded or followed by sniffing and/or flehmen of the site. The cat may also vary the side of the face they use, and alternate it during repetitions in a bout of facial rubbing. As well as rubbing with the cheek, the cat may rub the item with their chin or rub in a way that their lip is lifted so the gums are revealed. Common inanimate objects to be facial rubbed include prominent sites within the home such as corner edges of walls, doors and furniture and outside of the home, fence and gate edges which may determine boundaries and passageways (for the cat, not necessarily perceived as such by people). As with head bunting, cats may be seen to regularly facial rub on the same locations in the home and outdoors.