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Does cats licking each other mean they like each other?

Have you ever caught two cats grooming each other and wondered if it means they like each other? It’s a common assumption, but the truth is far more complex. As a feline expert, I’ve delved deep into the science behind this behavior to uncover the many reasons why cats lick each other.

Sure, sometimes it’s a sign of affection and bonding, but there are plenty of other explanations. Cats use grooming as a way to assert dominance, establish territory, or even just pass the time. It’s all part of their intricate communication system that can be tricky for us humans to decipher.

In this post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of feline behavior and uncover the hidden meanings behind some seemingly simple actions. From bonding over shared scents to showing off who’s boss, there’s always more than meets the eye when it comes to our furry friends.

So whether you’re a cat lover or just curious about animal behavior, settle in for an informative and entertaining ride through everything you ever wanted to know about cats licking each other (and what it really means).

What is Cat Grooming?

Cat grooming is a process that involves cleaning and maintaining a cat’s fur coat, skin, and nails. It is an essential part of feline behavior that helps maintain hygiene and strengthens bonds between cats and their feline friends.

Cats are able to groom themselves with their rough tongues, which have tiny barbs that help remove dirt, loose hair, and parasites from their coat. However, there are areas on their head, face, and ears that they cannot reach on their own. This is where allogrooming or social grooming comes in.

Allogrooming is when cats groom each other as a way to bond and show affection. It is a form of communication that helps them build relationships with other cats. When cats lick each other, they are not only helping to keep their friend’s fur clean but also showing a sign of trust and respect. This behavior is particularly common among cats who live together and have a strong bond.

Apart from social grooming, cats may also groom each other for practical reasons such as removing fleas or ticks. They may even groom humans as an act of affection and trust.

It’s important to note that while grooming is a positive sign of feline relationships, it should not be taken as the sole indicator of whether two cats like each other. Other behaviors such as playing together, snuggling, and sharing resources can also be used to determine if two cats have established a friendly relationship.

Overall, cat grooming is an essential aspect of feline behavior that not only helps maintain hygiene but also strengthens social bonds between cats and their feline friends. So next time you see your cat grooming themselves or a fellow feline friend, know that it’s not just about staying clean – it’s also about building relationships. Here are some other fascinating facts about cat grooming:

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?

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Cats are famously fastidious creatures, and one of the ways they maintain their cleanliness is through grooming. But did you know that cats also groom each other? This behavior, known as allogrooming or social grooming, is a common occurrence among cats, particularly those that share a close bond. So why do cats groom each other?

One reason is that grooming helps to strengthen the bond between cats. When one cat licks another, it releases endorphins in both cats, creating a sense of pleasure and comfort. This positive association can help to build trust and familiarity between them. And if you’re lucky enough to have multiple cats in your home, you may notice that they groom each other more frequently than they groom themselves.

Another reason for allogrooming is hygiene. Cats are meticulous about keeping themselves clean, and by extension, they like to keep their companions clean as well. A cat may lick another to remove dirt or debris from their fur, or to remove any parasites that may be present. And if you have a cat that’s prone to hairballs, you may notice that their feline friend helps out by giving them a good grooming session.

In addition to promoting cleanliness and bonding, grooming also serves a social function among cats. When one cat grooms another, it can be seen as a sign of dominance or submission. The cat doing the grooming is asserting its authority over the other cat, or showing deference to a more dominant feline. This can be especially important in multi-cat households where there may be some jockeying for position.

Is Licking Always a Sign of Affection?

Well, it turns out that this feline behavior is not always straightforward, and there are various reasons why cats may lick each other.

Firstly, grooming is a common behavior between cats that can indicate a close bond. Cats are known for their fastidious grooming habits, and they will often groom themselves and other cats in their social group. This serves several purposes, including keeping their coats clean and healthy, and reinforcing social bonds. So when cats groom each other, it can definitely be a sign of affection.

However, licking can also be a display of dominance or aggression. In some cases, one cat may be attempting to assert its dominance over another by licking or grooming it excessively. This type of behavior can lead to conflicts between the cats, which may result in aggression.

On the other hand, cats may lick each other as a way to show submission or appeasement. For instance, if one cat is feeling anxious or stressed, it may lick another cat as a way to signal that it poses no threat.

It’s important to consider the context and other factors before jumping to conclusions about what the licking means. For example, if two cats are grooming each other while purring and snuggling together, it is likely a sign of affection. Conversely, if one cat is grooming another aggressively with flattened ears and dilated pupils, it may be a sign of dominance or aggression.

Practical Reasons for Grooming

Cats are renowned for their cleanliness and spend a significant portion of their day grooming themselves. But did you know that cats also groom each other? This behavior, called allogrooming, has several practical reasons.

One of the primary reasons for allogrooming is to maintain hygiene and cleanliness. Cats are meticulous about their grooming habits and can spend hours licking themselves to remove any dirt or debris from their fur. However, there are areas on a cat’s body, such as the head and neck, that they cannot reach on their own. This is where allogrooming comes in handy. When one cat licks another cat, it helps to clean those hard-to-reach areas, keeping their fur clean and healthy.

In addition to maintaining hygiene, allogrooming can also strengthen social bonds between cats. Cats may not always get along, but they do form close bonds with each other over time. Allogrooming plays a crucial role in strengthening these bonds by creating a sense of trust and familiarity between the cats. It’s like a handshake between two humans.

Moreover, allogrooming can also serve as a form of stress relief for cats. Cats can become stressed or anxious for various reasons, such as changes in their environment or routine. In such situations, grooming can help to calm them down and provide a sense of comfort. It’s like a warm hug from a friend.

Besides, grooming can help establish dominance hierarchies within a group of cats. Dominant cats may groom their subordinates as a way of asserting their dominance and maintaining order within the group.

Establishing Dominance Through Grooming

Get ready to be amazed as we delve into the intriguing world of cat behavior.

While cats are known for their impeccable grooming habits, they also use grooming as a social behavior to communicate and bond with each other. This behavior, called allogrooming, serves multiple purposes, including establishing hierarchy within a group.

So how exactly do cats use grooming to assert their dominance? In multi-cat households, cats form hierarchies, and the dominant cat often grooms the subordinate cats to maintain control over resources like food and resting spots. The subordinate cat may tolerate the grooming as a way to avoid conflict or aggression from the dominant cat.

However, it’s crucial to consider the context of the grooming behavior. Mutual grooming between two cats is a sign of a strong bond and comfort with each other. On the other hand, if one cat is doing most of the grooming while the other is passive, it could be a sign of dominance.

Moreover, cats also use grooming as a form of communication. If a cat is stressed or anxious, they may seek out another cat for comfort and support through grooming. In this case, licking behavior may not indicate affection but rather a need for emotional support.

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In conclusion, understanding feline social behavior can help us comprehend our furry friends better and provide them with appropriate care. Grooming is just one way that cats communicate and establish their place within a group. So next time you see your cats engaging in allogrooming, take some time to observe their behavior and context. You might discover something new about your feline companions.

Feral Cat Colonies and Grooming Behavior

These colonies range in size from just a few cats to dozens of cats, but all share the need for social bonds and hierarchy within the group. That’s where grooming behavior comes in.

Grooming behavior is not just about hygiene, it’s a vital way for cats to communicate, bond, and establish dominance within the group. There are two types of grooming behaviors: allogrooming and self-grooming. Allogrooming is more common in feral cat colonies as it helps to reinforce social bonds and maintain hierarchy within the group. When one cat grooms another, it’s a sign of trust and respect.

It’s important to note that just because cats engage in allogrooming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they like each other. However, it does indicate that they have a social bond and rely on each other for survival. In a feral colony, cats need to work together to hunt for food, defend their territory, and care for kittens. Without these social bonds, the colony would not survive.

Moreover, grooming behavior can also help to reduce stress and tension within the group. When cats groom each other, it can create a sense of relaxation and comfort, which ultimately leads to a more harmonious living situation within the colony. A relaxed colony is a healthy colony.

In addition to reinforcing social bonds and reducing stress, grooming behavior can also serve as a way for cats to establish dominance within the group. The cat doing the grooming is often seen as more dominant than the cat being groomed. This helps maintain order within the colony.

Does Grooming Necessarily Mean They Like Each Other?

Let’s dive into this fascinating topic and answer the burning question: does grooming necessarily mean they like each other?

Firstly, cats are renowned for their cleanliness and hygiene, and grooming plays a vital role in maintaining this aspect of their lives. Grooming helps to keep their fur free from dirt and debris, and cats often help each other out in this regard. If one cat has difficulty reaching a certain spot on their body, their feline friend may step in to assist with grooming.

Secondly, social hierarchy is an essential aspect of a cat’s life, and grooming can be used as a means of establishing dominance within the group. Dominant cats may groom subordinate cats as a way of asserting their authority over them. In these cases, the subordinate cat may reluctantly submit to being groomed as a way of avoiding conflict.

Moreover, just like humans, cats have their own personalities and preferences when it comes to grooming. While some cats may enjoy being groomed by others as a sign of affection or trust, others may become agitated or defensive when another cat attempts to groom them. Therefore, it is crucial to observe our pets’ behavior and understand their motivations behind grooming to better comprehend their relationships with each other.

It is essential to note that grooming is not always an indicator of affection between cats. Sometimes, it may simply be a means of establishing social bonds or maintaining hygiene. Furthermore, there may be instances where one cat does not enjoy being groomed by another cat. In such cases, the behavior may be perceived as annoying or invasive.

Other Behaviors That Indicate Friendship Between Cats

While licking is a common behavior that indicates friendship between cats, there are other behaviors to look out for. These behaviors not only help keep their coats clean but also strengthen their bond and show a level of trust and comfort with one another.

Grooming is one such behavior that can indicate friendship between cats. Cats who are friends will often groom each other, taking turns licking and cleaning each other’s fur. This helps establish a level of intimacy between them, and reinforces their connection.

Another behavior that can indicate friendship is sleeping together. Cats who are friends may choose to sleep close to or even on top of each other. This shows a level of comfort and trust with one another that is essential for building strong relationships.

Playing together also shows a level of friendship between cats. They may engage in chasing each other, batting at toys, or even wrestling. This type of play is not only fun for the cats but also helps them establish social hierarchies and boundaries within their relationship.

Lastly, cats who are friends will often share resources such as food and water bowls, beds, and toys. This shows a level of trust and generosity towards one another, and reinforces their bond.

It’s important to remember that just like humans, cats have their own personalities and preferences when it comes to friendships. Some cats may be more social than others, while some may prefer to be solitary. Observing their behavior can give you insight into their relationships with other cats.


As we’ve explored, cats licking each other isn’t always a clear-cut sign of affection. The science behind this behavior is complex, and as an expert in the feline world, I’ve uncovered many reasons why cats groom each other. While it’s often a way to bond and show love, grooming can also be used to assert dominance or maintain hygiene.

To truly understand our pets’ relationships with one another, it’s crucial to observe their behavior and motivations behind grooming. It’s not just about physical contact; there are other behaviors that indicate friendship between cats, such as sharing resources, sleeping together, and playing together.

By understanding feline social behavior, we can provide better care for our furry friends. Grooming is just one aspect of communication that cats use to establish their place within a group.