7 Reasons Why Do Cats Lick & Groom Each Other (2023)

why do cats lick groom each other

Have you ever caught your cats licking each other and wondered what’s happening in their furry little minds?

While it might seem strange, there’s a fascinating world of reasons behind this feline phenomenon called allogrooming.

In this article, we’ll explore 7 reasons cats groom each other, providing a deeper understanding of your beloved pets’ behavior.

So, let’s dive in and uncover the mysteries of feline allogrooming!

1. Strengthening Bonds Between Cats

Feline friendships and the importance of allogrooming

Cats form strong bonds with their fellow feline friends, and allogrooming plays a crucial role in this process.

When cats groom each other, they’re keeping each other clean and reinforcing their connections with their preferred companions.

It’s a way for cats to show their love and trust for one another, solidifying their relationships.

The significance of preferred individuals in allogrooming

Not every cat will engage in allogrooming with just any other cat. Cats have their preferred individuals – those they share a special bond with.

This might include family members, like littermates or mothers and their kittens, or cats that have lived together for an extended period.

So, if you see your cats grooming each other, you can be sure they share a strong connection.

2. Aiding in Survival and Health

Allogrooming as a natural defense against parasites

Allogrooming serves a practical purpose in the wild – helping cats stay healthy by removing parasites like fleas and ticks.

This behavior is essential for survival, as it helps prevent the spread of diseases and keeps cats clean and healthy.

Indoor cats and the connection to survival instincts

Even though indoor cats may not face the same risks as their outdoor counterparts, the instinct to groom each other for survival remains.

Indoor cats may engage in allogrooming as a social activity, communicating mutual trust, and maintaining good health.

3. Assisting in Grooming Hard-to-Reach Areas

Cats helping each other stay clean

Cats are fastidious creatures that dislike being dirty. However, they can’t reach every spot on their bodies by themselves. That’s where their feline friends come in!

Allogrooming allows cats to help each other clean those hard-to-reach areas, like the top of the head, that they couldn’t groom independently.

The role of scent glands and pheromones in allogrooming

Cats have scent glands on their faces that release pheromones, which are used to communicate with other cats.

Grooming each other’s faces, they share these pheromones and reinforce their bonds. Much of the allogrooming focuses on the head and facial areas.

4. Motherly Care and Allogrooming

Maternal allogrooming in newborn kittens

Right after birth, mother cats groom their newborn kittens, stimulating them to eliminate waste and keeping them clean.

This maternal allogrooming is essential to the bonding process and comforts the kittens.

Bonding, comfort, and grooming lessons from mom

Mothers continue to groom them as kittens grow and learn to eliminate them independently.

This teaches the kittens how to groom themselves, provides comfort, and strengthens their bond with their mother.

So, the next time you see a mother cat grooming her kitten, you’ll know that it’s not just about hygiene – it’s also about love and care.

5. Detecting and Responding to Health Issues

Excessive grooming as an indicator of health problems

Sometimes, cats groom themselves excessively, signaling skin inflammation, itchiness, or an underlying health issue.

Common causes can include parasites like fleas, allergies to food, or environmental factors.

How feline housemates may react to a change in health

Cats are perceptive and can be in tune with their feline housemates’ emotional and physical states.

If one cat is experiencing health issues, the other cats might become more attentive and groom the affected cat more frequently.

Awareness of your cats’ baseline behavior is crucial for detecting any changes that may warrant a visit to the veterinarian.

6. Redirecting Aggression and Establishing Hierarchy

Allogrooming as a means to avoid serious conflicts

Cat-to-cat relationships can be quite complex, and sometimes allogrooming serves as a way to redirect aggression and establish a hierarchy within a group of cats.

This behavior can help cats avoid serious conflicts, creating a more peaceful living situation.

Dominance and hierarchy in multi-cat households

Although it’s not always the case, cats may groom each other to show dominance or establish their position within the group.

However, it’s essential to remember that each cat’s relationship is unique. More than one interaction is needed to fully understand the dynamics within your multi-cat household.

7. Allogrooming Between Cats and Humans

Affection and bonding with their human companions

Cats don’t only groom each other; they may also groom their human companions! This behavior shows affection, trust, and bonding between your cat and you.

So, the next time your cat starts grooming you, remember that it’s just their way of showing love.

Debunking the myth of dominance in cat-to-human grooming

Contrary to popular belief, cats are not trying to assert dominance when grooming humans. Instead, they simply engage in a social activity communicating trust and affection.

So, don’t worry – your cat isn’t trying to take over the household when they groom you!


Now that we’ve explored the various reasons behind cats grooming each other, you can appreciate the intricate world of feline allogrooming.

From bonding and communication to hygiene and survival, this behavior serves many purposes in a cat’s life.

So, the next time you catch your cats grooming each other, take a moment to marvel at the fascinating world of feline friendships and the many ways they show their love for one another.

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