Cat Behavior

Why Are Cats Always Grooming Each Other – Is This It Normal?

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Cats and their grooming habits are well-known. If you’ve ever spent much time around your cat, you’ve probably noticed how much time it spends licking its coat. However, you may wonder if there’s a special reason for your cat to groom other cats.

Why do cats groom each other?

Cats groom each other to show trust and affection as part of their social experience. This behavior is known as allogrooming, which refers to grooming behavior in groups of the same species.

This video shows a couple of cats grooming each other. What you see here is very typical of allogrooming behavior. Read on to learn more about this grooming behavior in cats and why they do it.

How Typical is It for Cats to Lick Each Other?

According to Catological, licking is a common behavior in multi-cat households, regardless of whether the cats usually get along. Does this say anything about how they get along?

Cats who are siblings, mates, or bonded buddies are more likely to groom each other. Besides seeing cats licking each other, you might even notice dominance patterns. If one cat does the majority of the licking, that is a sign of dominance.

Cases, where cats exhibit dominant behavior, are, thankfully, rare. In most cases, two intact males or two females nursing litters are more likely to show this type of behavior. Spayed or neutered cats rarely have dominance issues.

When cats lick and groom each other, they are demonstrating their social standing to each other. Although a cat’s tongue might seem unpleasant to a human, other cats find the barbed tongue somewhat pleasurable and react positively.

You will notice your cats licking each other more frequently if they are adults. A cat will have learned this behavior from its mother at an early age. Littermates groom each other more often because they learned the behavior so early.

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?

According to Russell Cargill, cats may groom each other to clean places otherwise difficult to reach.
Kitties are fairly agile, but even their agility has its limitations.

Think about the last time you had an itchy spot on your back you were unable to reach. If you asked someone else to scratch it for you, it’s likely that you understand what your cats are doing. Other cats are handy, and will, therefore, help.

Cats’ hair gets tangled easily, especially in breeds with long hair. Their fur also picks up dust particles more easily than you might realize. When cats lick each other, their tongues act in a similar way to a hairbrush, getting rid of dirt and debris.

Cats do not necessarily have to get along well to groom each other. Allogrooming is an important part of how cats interact with each other. Whenever another cat is part of the social circle, this behavior will come naturally, without prompting.

You can also give your cat help with grooming, in the form of brushing or using a de-shedding tool. These types of tools will help keep your cat’s coat looking its best.
Another advantage is that your cat will embrace you as part of its group.

Does Affection Have Anything to Do with Cats Grooming Each Other?

According to My Pet Needs That, cats do groom each other as a way of demonstrating affection. Although common in cats that share a strong bond, it is not always the case.

Many animal behaviorists compare cats grooming each other to a type of kissing. However, in cats, it is less a form of a greeting than a means of showing acceptance. When one cat grooms another, one of the things it is doing is showing belongingness.

When cats groom each other, they can easily build a bond between them. In households with multiple cats, such behavior can increase the cats’ chances of getting along well. There are a few important reasons cats groom each other you should know about.

One of the ways that cats interact with each other is by exchanging scents through touch. Licking is one of the ways cats transmit and receive scents. Cats can discover more about other cats and provide information through touch, including grooming.

Cats have several areas that are difficult to reach when grooming, despite their overall agility. A grooming buddy is beneficial for cats in this situation. Cats will often demonstrate pleasure with each others’ company during this time.

When you notice your cats grooming each other, this is something that you should see in a positive light. If either of them wearies of the grooming, trust them to stop it voluntarily. Fights between cats because of grooming are relatively rare.

Can Cat Grooming Ever Be a Compulsive Behavior?

According to VetWest, stress grooming does exist.

When a cat spends as much as 30 to 50 percent of its time grooming itself or others, this is normal behavior. One of the reasons that people may not notice this behavior as much is that some of it may take place when you’re not around to see it.

Cats are a species that do not adapt very well to change. Disruptions to the usual routine, the death of another pet, or a recent move can cause stress in cats. Cats may start excessive licking and grooming themselves and other cats to relieve stress.

When cats start grooming excessively, they may end up swallowing enough hair to cause hairballs. Too many hairballs can upset a cat’s digestion to a considerable degree. Compulsive licking can also cause skin irritations that lead to infections.

You should consider a trip to the vet to rule out any medical causes for this excessive licking. If the primary cause is stress unrelated to a medical reason, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or tranquilizers to calm the cat.

When you make changes, do so gradually to give your cat time to adjust. Consider adding cat furniture to provide a safe place to hide and climb. Also, make sure their current bedding and toys come with them to the new location for greater familiarity.

What Role Do Owners Play in Cat Grooming?

There is something somewhat entertaining about watching cats that are best buddies grooming each other. Some cats seem to take the initiative so well that we may wonder if they require that much help. After all, cats have a reputation for independence.

However, The RSPCA emphasizes the importance of owners providing grooming for their cats.

Cats see their owners as part of their social group and react by trying to groom you, too. Reacting positively is the best way to respond because it is a sign of acceptance. Your cat will be aware of its place in your family.

Grooming your cat on a regular schedule consistent with its coat type is a good way to keep its coat in optimal condition and strengthen its bond with you. Make sure you use the right tools to keep things as pleasurable as possible.

Use brushes or other grooming tools suitable for cat hair to see the best results. Grooming products intended for cats will reduce the amount of pulling that may otherwise occur. You don’t want grooming sessions with your cat to cause stress.

Cats Groom Each Other for Various Reasons

Cats groom each other for various reasons that include affection and social acceptance. In some more unusual circumstances, cats may groom each other for stress-related reasons. Grooming your cat regularly is important for bonding for both of you.

Stacy Reed is a writer who lives with three cats who never miss a chance to teach her more about life and, of course, cats. She has been a cat parent since her teens, having had cats ranging from domestic shorthairs to Siamese mixes. Some of what she specializes in writing about includes general cat care, as well as health and behavior.

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