Why Do Cats Lick Each Other?

3 minutes to read

You might have noticed how obsessive your cat is about grooming and fur maintenance is the most common reason for this behavior. However, this only begins to explain why cats spend so much time on the process and why grooming seems to be an especially and important business for cats.

According to experts, cats will groom for three main reasons – health, instinct and stress. When kittens are born, the mother will help these babies develop an instinct for grooming. When feeling stressed, cats use grooming as a form of therapy and needless to say, grooming keeps the skin and fur feeling healthy.

This also makes sense as cats have a lot of fur and this explains why cleaning requires so much time and dedication. In fact, there are even tiny barbs on the tongue called papillae which enables cats to remove dirt, loose hair and any dust within this fur coat. As if that’s not enough, cats have their teeth and nicely shaped paws to remove ticks or fleas and wipe their face and ears.

However, this does not quite explain why cats lick each other and in this article, we take a look at the reasons and circumstances behind this rather strange behavior.

 

Why Do Cats Lick Each Other?

As a rule, cats often lick each other as a form of bonding. What’s more, some cats use this act to demonstrate confidence, while others are simply social and licking a feline friend is a sign of affection.

More specifically, cats concentrate their efforts around the ears and facial area. Believe it or not, cats will sometimes display this kind of affection toward humans and not just their furry friends.

If you have more than one cat, you will notice this behavior more often. You see, when cats lick each other, this is also sign of trust and comfort. That is to say, cats with the same owner or established relationship are much more likely to feel relaxed, comfortable and safe in the company of one another.

On the other hand, cats will also lose patience from time to time and lash out at another cat during the grooming process. While we know that a soft bite is either a sign of affection or a means of getting dirt out of the fur, it’s not clear why some cats get so frustrated that they end up scrapping with the other cat.

grooming may be universal but circumstances will dictate the reason for cats licking each other.

 

Specific Reasons Why Cats Lick Each Other

 While we have much to learn about the behavior of cats, here are three of the main reasons why cats lick each other:

 

Cats Lick Each Other for Family Reasons

If cats are born into the same family, licking one another can help strengthen family ties. However, even thought cats from the same litter tend to bond more often, this can also happen with cats that simply grow up together. In this sense, cats lick each other not only for family reasons but also as a sign of familiarity. Due to this extent of intimacy, cats can also quickly distinguish outsiders from membership the family.

 

Cats Groom Kittens for Protection

When kittens are born, the mother will spend a huge amount of time grooming each kitten. As already mentioned, this helps the mother quickly identify members of the litter and keep their fur/skin clean. Just as importantly, this grooming also helps to warn other cats that these kittens have a mother, while helping the kittens bond closely with the mother.

 

Cats Lick to Welcome One Another

Cats are highly sensitive to smell and feel wither safe or fearful in a new environment depending on this smell. For this reason, cats will often struggle to integrate in an environment where there is already a resident cat and associated territory. When a cat licks another cat in this type of situation, this act can be a sign of acceptance and a means of welcoming another cat into the environment.

 

Final Thoughts

 As you may know, cats will sometimes dampen their paws and fur in order to cool down which is yet another reason why they seem to be grooming so often. However, it would seem that cats lick each other for emotional reasons and for protection or identification as opposed to cleanliness. On the other hand, who am I to judge? After all, cats are notoriously clever and surely smart enough to want their friend to be clean.

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