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When grooming my girlfriend's cat with a brush, she very often tries to push her face into the brush. The previous brush was rectangular and she would aim with her nose at one corner of it. I had the impression that she tries to clean her nose with it.

Now we have a couple curry combs lying around and once tried one of them to brush her. The cat seems to really like those but still tries to push her face and head against the brush. I also scratch her behind the ears, but she will always try to catch the brush and push against it. Trying to brush her sometimes becomes impossible as she will force her head between the brush her and her other fur.

And this does not stop after a couple times, she does that on and on, like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXPEkg6TjSc

Is she trying to tell me something and I just do not get it? Or does she just like that sensation? Is there anything I should do differently?

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I think she is trying to mark the brush with her scent. If you look at this diagram you can see how many scent glands are located on a cat's head in almost exactly the spots the cat in the video is rubbing against the brush.

Cat scent glands

Unrelated: I never realized there was one on the back above the tail. That might explain why they like getting scratched there so much and do the "ratchet" thing with their butt.

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    The ones on the back are interesting indeed! Our cat often passes one and presses her hip against the leg while turning and then keeping only contact with the tail. It always looks like as if she parked in with her back. If there is a lot of scent in those areas, it makes sense to mark the humans as hers. – Martin Ueding Jan 31 '16 at 18:31
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She either likes the sensation (faces are hard to clean properly) or she's telling you she approves and wants to get more of her scent onto the brush to mark it as hers.

Or something else; translating from cat to human is tricky.

One of mine would much rather lick the comb than be groomed with it. I've stopped trying to understand ...

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  • I already marked the brush as hers with a label printer :-D. So I will just keep holding the brush for a while when she does this. Your last sentence cheers me up, I also find it very difficult to understand her actions often. – Martin Ueding Jan 31 '16 at 18:32
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Sometimes a cat will rub their face against your hand or an object to massage their gums due to dental problems or gum disease.

I noticed similar behavior with a cat who seemed to enjoy gentle rubbing around her gums. The owner didn't know that there was any problem and told me later that after a visit to the vet, one tooth was so badly decayed that the vet was able to remove it completely from just a gentle tug with their fingers.

Please note that I am not a veterinarian, I was not present, and this is a retelling. I don't know if the tooth was actually pulled at, crumbled, or what kind of treatment or procedure was performed other than it was supposed to just be a normal checkup.

Her cat had noticibly altered eating habits and the problem should have been obvious in retrospect (we were both too inexperienced at the time). If someone asks you if their cat looks thinner than usual or mentions that they're eating less-- get their teeth checked out!

As a previous cat owner, I can tell you that I was never able to inspect my cat's teeth well at all on my own. I don't know how vets are able to do it so casually. I think that dental care of pets is an often missed responsibility for owners who are inexperienced, do not, or cannot afford to take their pets regularly to a vet.

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  • The cat indeed has a lot of missing teeth and somewhat unusual eating habits. She only eats dry food and only as much as needs. From wet food she only licks off the sauce. The cat owner has a vet in the family, so I would expect that these things would have been found if they were critical. – Martin Ueding Sep 20 '19 at 10:14

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