cat on couch nuzzling phone

Cats rub their faces on phones to mark territory with scent glands on their face, seek your attention, and show affection. Additionally, the comforting scent of your phone, its warmth, and the cat’s natural curiosity about gadgets contribute to this behavior. To manage this, offer toys, engage them differently, or set boundaries.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

One minute you’re scrolling through your favorite social media platform, and the next, your furry companion is rubbing their face all over it. You may be curious about the reasons behind this peculiar behavior. In this article, we’ll dive into the science behind the question, “why does my cat rub his face on my phone,” how they perceive your device, and what you can do if you want to discourage this behavior.

Reasons Why Cats Rub Their Faces on Phones

Scent Marking

Cats have a strong instinct to mark their territory with their scent. They have scent glands in various parts of their body, including their face. When your cat rubs their face on your phone, they’re essentially leaving their scent on it, marking it as part of their domain.

Seeking Attention

Cats are clever creatures and quickly learn which behaviors get your attention. If your cat has noticed that rubbing their face on your phone causes you to react or interact with them, they may continue to do so simply because they enjoy the attention and social interaction.


Face rubbing is also a way for cats to show affection. By rubbing their face on your phone, your cat may be trying to express their love and appreciation for you. This is especially likely if they display this behavior while you’re using your phone.


You cat may be not so subtly letting you know that the cat food dish needs refilling! By rubbing their face on your phone, they’re hoping to draw your attention to their empty dish.

The Science Behind Feline Scent Marking

Facial Glands

Cats have multiple facial glands that produce pheromones. These glands are located around their mouth, cheeks, and forehead. When your cat rubs their face against objects, they release these pheromones onto the surfaces, creating a unique scent that other cats can recognize.


Pheromones are chemical signals used by animals to communicate with one another. In cats, these pheromones serve a variety of purposes, such as marking territory, signaling reproductive status, and creating a sense of familiarity and security. By rubbing their face on your phone, your cat is using their pheromones to communicate with you and their environment.

cat rubbing head on phone

How Cats Perceive Your Phone

The Sense of Smell

Cats have an incredible sense of smell, which is significantly more powerful than ours. They use their sense of smell to navigate their world and gather information about their surroundings. Your cat may be drawn to your phone because it smells like you, and they find your scent comforting.

Your Phone as a Personal Object

This is important to your cat because they recognize you as a source of safety, comfort, and affection. By rubbing their face on your phone, your cat is essentially claiming you as their own and reinforcing the bond between you.

Cats and Technology

Natural Curiosity

Cats are naturally curious animals, and they’re often drawn to new and interesting objects. The various lights, sounds, and vibrations emitted by your phone can pique your cat’s curiosity, enticing them to investigate and interact with it.

The Warmth of Your Phone

Have you ever noticed that your phone can get warm after extended use? Cats are drawn to warmth, and your phone’s heat can be an attractive feature for your feline friend. They may rub their face on your phone to enjoy the warmth and comfort it provides.

What to Do If Your Cat Rubs Their Face on Your Phone

Offer Alternative Stimulation

One way to discourage your cat from rubbing their face on your phone is to provide them with alternative forms of stimulation. Offer them toys, scratching posts, or interactive puzzles to keep their minds occupied and satisfy their need for sensory engagement.

Redirect Their Attention

If your cat starts rubbing their face on your phone, try redirecting their attention to a more appropriate object or activity. Gently move them away from your phone and engage them in a different form of play or interaction.

Set Boundaries

Establishing boundaries can help teach your cat that your phone is off-limits. This may involve gently but firmly removing them from your phone when they attempt to rub their face on it, and consistently reinforcing the message that your phone is not an appropriate object for their attention.

cat staring at phone


Cats rub their faces on phones for a variety of reasons, including scent marking, territory marking, seeking attention, and expressing affection. By understanding the motivations behind this behavior, you can better appreciate your cat’s actions and address any concerns you may have. If you want to discourage your cat from rubbing their face on your phone, consider offering alternative stimulation, redirecting their attention, and setting boundaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any risks to my cat rubbing their face on my phone?

While there are no significant risks to your cat rubbing their face on your phone, it’s important to keep your phone clean to minimize any potential transfer of bacteria or germs.

Is it normal for cats to be attracted to electronic devices?

Yes, many cats are attracted to electronic devices due to their curiosity, the warmth they emit, and the various stimuli they provide.

Why does my cat only rub their face on my phone when I’m using it?

Your cat may associate your phone with you and your presence. When you’re using your phone, your cat may be more likely to rub their face on it to express their affection and strengthen their bond with you.

How can I keep my cat from interrupting me when I’m using my phone?

Try offering your cat alternative forms of stimulation, redirecting their attention, or establishing boundaries to teach them that your phone is off-limits.

Do all cats display this behavior, or is it unique to certain breeds?

While some cats may be more prone to this behavior due to their personality or breed, face rubbing is a common behavior across many breeds and individual cats. It’s important to remember that each cat is unique, and their specific motivations and behaviors may vary.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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Why Does My Cat Rub His Face on My Phone?

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One Comment

  1. Great post! My cat lies on the keyboard of my Chromebook when it is open and I am watching a show on it. He attends to the screen, so it appears that he is watching the show with me!