If you’ve ever seen your cat rub up against a shoe you just took off, you probably thought it was pretty darn strange. Why would your kitty want to be anywhere near a pair of your stinky boots (although they are pretty cute!), especially after wearing them all day long? Well as it turns out, the smell might be the very thing that attracts your pet in the first place.
According to The National Geographic, in nature scents often act as messages between animals. Even though your feline is domesticated and not running around in the wild, it probably assumes the smell coming from your footwear is trying to tell it something. Don’t worry, your cat isn’t judging you for the odor, it just wants to add its signature scent to your favorite flats.
It’s also worth mentioning that if a guest comes over and takes off his or her shoes or even sets down a purse or backpack, you may notice your cat spending a whole lot of time inspecting and rubbing against them, too. Experts say cats learn about their environment through smell. So if anything makes a first appearance in the cat’s environment (aka your home), it’s no wonder they’re so curious about it — and also want to mark their territory.
Cats have multiple scent glands around the mouth, chin, neck, ears, and face, according to Vet Street. Because of all these glands, a cat can easily leave his or her scent behind wherever he or she chooses. No wonder why our homes smell like “cat” so often! Our furry friends tend to pick objects that stick out, such as the edge of a table or couch, to make marking their territory easier. And, let’s be honest, what sticks out more than a pair of shoes on the floor?
A cat often rubs his or her face on you, the owner, as a means of showing affection and greeting you. So transferring a scent is a pretty big deal to your pet, according to Purina. Therefore, a cat that rubs his or her face on your possessions that have your scent (like your stinky shoes) is simply a further sign of your pet claiming you as one of his or her own.
Believe it or not, this is also a good sign that your cat sees you as an important part of his or her social group. So if your little guy is spending a ridiculously long time with your shoes, your precious pet probably thinks very highly of you. What can we say? A weird compliment is still a compliment — especially when it comes from a cat!