As a popular Books of Adam comic has pointed out, the most difficult thing to reconcile with as a cat owner is the fact that your cat’s butthole has touched pretty much everything you own. Sometimes, your cat will decide to put his or her gnarly hole on your face, completely casually. While it might seem vaguely threatening or confusing, a cat researcher tells Inverse it’s not as weird as you think.
Cat enthusiasts know the feeling. You’ll be sitting down, waiting for your kitty to curl up next to you when all of a sudden they present you with their behind. Sometimes it smells like the litter box, making the whole situation even more unsavory.
But according to cat researcher Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, cats aren’t trying to gross you out — in fact, they’re trying to be nice.
“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity,” Delgado tells Inverse. “It’s hard for us to relate to, but for them, smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is. So cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”
Even long-time cat owners have trouble understanding most of the things their cats do — but the butt situation is probably the most perplexing of all, even if it’s well-intended.
“My cat, Lou, shoves his butt in my face when he’s begging me to scratch his butt (but pretending to ignore me), or when he’s hungry and wants to get my attention,” Inverse’s entertainment reporter Caitlin Busch says. “He’s The Worst and I love him.”
Though cats are definitely evil geniuses, sticking their butts in our faces isn’t actually a sign of aggression. All the other weird stuff they do probably is, though — and we love them for it anyway.