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When your cat rubs against your leg, it isn’t because she is trying to drive you crazy. Dr. Tricia Heine, a veterinarian formerly with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, says,"Cats have scent glands around their mouths, chins, foreheads and lips, so rubbing puts their scent on whatever they are rubbing against." Rubbing your leg is your cat’s way of marking you as her friend. However, this friendly gesture isn’t always welcome, especially when you’re wearing black pants. While cats are not easy to train, it is possible to redirect her natural behavior.
Think of what you would like your cat to do instead. It is always easier to train a pet what you want it to do, rather than teaching it to stop doing something. Having a clear idea of what you would like to see instead will help you teach your cat much faster.
Get a scratching post, even if your cat is de-clawed. This can be a substitute “leg” for your cat to rub against. To make the post more attractive to him, you can spray it with catnip-scented mist.
Every time your cat starts to rub against your leg, gently pick up the cat and put her beside the scratching post. Praise your cat with treats and petting.
Whenever your cat goes near the scratching post, reward your cat with a treat to reinforce the idea that the scratching post is a good thing to rub against.
Many cats are fond of liverwurst. Offer small amounts of liverwurst as a reward for using the scratching post. Only give the liverwurst when the cat is using the scratching post. This will help your cat learn that rubbing against the scratching post is a very rewarding thing to do.
Be patient. Your cat is rubbing against your leg in an attempt to be friendly. His behavior is natural and not meant to be offensive.
Punishing your cat for rubbing against your legs may lead to confusion and behavior problems.
Megan Furey works as a disability advocate, specializing in service animal training. Furey has written for non-for-profit organizations with a special emphasis on disability awareness. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: music and reading. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.