What Does It Mean When A Cat Licks Another Cat?

Cats are intriguing creatures that often leave us scratching our heads in confusion.

Their aloof behavior and independent nature make them fascinating companions, but there’s one behavior that can be particularly puzzling – licking. Have you ever caught your furry friend grooming another cat and wondered what it all means?

Well, it’s not as simple as it seems. In fact, there are a few different interpretations of this behavior.

One reason why cats lick each other is for grooming purposes. These fastidious felines spend a significant amount of time cleaning themselves, but they also enjoy grooming their feline friends.

This act of mutual grooming not only keeps their fur clean but also shows affection and strengthens social bonds between cats. However, licking can also serve as a way to establish dominance.

The cat doing the licking may be asserting their superiority over the other cat by cleaning them, similar to how a mother cat grooms her kittens. Regardless of the reason behind this behavior, cat licking is an intriguing and complex form of communication among these captivating creatures.

So, next time you witness your cat engaging in this activity, take a closer look and see if you can interpret its meaning.

Social Bonding

While cats are often thought of as solitary animals, they do have the ability to form meaningful social bonds with other cats.

Grooming behaviors, including licking, play a crucial role in strengthening these bonds. When one cat licks another, it’s a sign of affection and bonding.

This behavior helps to establish trust and reinforce social bonds between cats. It’s also a way for cats to show submission and respect towards each other.

So if you see your feline friends grooming each other, it’s a great sign that they are comfortable and trust each other. However, not all instances of licking between cats are positive.

Sometimes, one cat may lick another as a way of asserting dominance or showing aggression. This can lead to fights or other negative interactions between the cats.

Therefore, it’s important to observe your cats’ behavior closely to determine the meaning behind their grooming behaviors. It’s worth noting that grooming is not just critical for building social bonds but is also essential for the well-being of cats.

Grooming helps maintain their hygiene and cleanliness by removing dirt and loose fur from their coat. While cats are fastidious groomers, they may not be able to clean every part of their body effectively.

This is where grooming from another cat comes in handy. One cat may lick another to help clean hard-to-reach areas, such as the top of the head or behind the ears.

However, excessive licking can be a sign of a problem. Cats that are anxious or stressed may overgroom themselves or other cats as a way to cope with their emotions.

If you notice that one cat is constantly licking another to the point where it’s causing bald patches or irritation, it’s important to consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues or behavioral problems. In conclusion, grooming behaviors like licking play a vital role in cat social bonding.


Cats may have a reputation for being independent creatures, but they are also capable of forming strong social bonds with other cats.

Grooming behaviors such as licking are a vital way for cats to show their love and respect for each other. Licking not only helps keep the cats’ fur clean but also allows them to spread their scent.

Cats possess scent glands on their faces, and by leaving their unique scent on their companion’s fur, they can mark their territory and establish ownership. In multi-cat households where there is a hierarchy established among the cats, grooming each other can also be a sign of submission.

The cat being groomed may be showing deference to the other cat’s dominance, which is an essential aspect of social interactions among felines. However, it’s crucial to recognize that excessive licking or grooming behavior could indicate underlying medical or behavioral issues that require veterinary attention.

Therefore, if you observe any changes in your cat’s behavior, it’s essential to monitor and seek professional advice if necessary. In conclusion, when cats lick each other, it’s usually a heartwarming sign of affection and bonding.

This natural behavior is commonly observed in cats that live together and demonstrates how they express their love and trust towards one another.


Cats are known for their cleanliness, spending a significant amount of time grooming themselves. During self-grooming, their rough tongues remove any dirt, debris, or loose hair while distributing natural oils throughout their coat for a healthy shine.

However, when one cat grooms another, it’s a sign of affection and trust. It’s like a spa day for cats, where one friend helps the other stay clean and healthy.

Mutual grooming can also serve other purposes. Dominant cats may groom their companions to assert their authority.

On the other hand, subordinate cats may lick dominant cats to acknowledge their authority and maintain peace within the group. It’s worth noting that excessive licking between cats can become problematic in rare cases.

Some cats may have an obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes them to excessively groom themselves or other cats, leading to hair loss, skin irritation, and even infection. If you notice such behavior, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

It’s an essential way for them to maintain their cleanliness and health while strengthening their social bonds.

Overgroomed Cats

When overgrooming becomes excessive and leads to bald patches or skin irritation, it’s time to address the issue.

Overgrooming is a common behavior in cats that can indicate a variety of underlying issues such as dominance, affection, stress, anxiety, boredom, or even obsessive-compulsive disorders. As an expert on the matter, I encourage you to pay close attention to your cats’ behavior and determine if there are any underlying causes.

To help alleviate boredom or stress, consider providing more toys or engaging activities for your cats to play with. You can also create a calming environment by offering comfortable hiding spots and reducing noise levels.

However, if the overgrooming persists, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. It’s important to note that excessive self-grooming in cats can also be a sign of an underlying medical issue such as allergies or skin irritation.

If you notice your cat licking themselves excessively, it’s crucial to take them to the vet for a check-up to rule out any potential health concerns.

Stress and Anxiety

One common manifestation of stress and anxiety in cats is excessive licking.

While licking is a natural grooming behavior, when it becomes aggressive or persistent, it can be a red flag that something is wrong. If you notice your cat licking another cat excessively or aggressively, it’s time to pay attention and investigate.

Other signs of stress and anxiety in cats include hiding, becoming more vocal or aggressive towards other cats or owners. It’s vital to identify the root cause of your cat’s distress and provide them with the care and support they need to manage their emotions.

This can include creating a safe and quiet space for your cat, minimizing environmental stressors, and seeking advice from your veterinarian for additional guidance. Understanding your cat’s behavior is key to providing them with the love and attention they deserve.

Interpreting Cat Grooming Behavior

Cat grooming behavior is not only a way of maintaining hygiene but also has various interpretations that can provide insight into their emotional state.

One interpretation of cat grooming behavior is that it’s a sign of affection between cats. When one feline licks another, it’s often a gesture of love and care.

You may notice the cat being groomed relaxing and enjoying the session. In some cases, cats even groom each other simultaneously, indicating a strong bond between them.

Another interpretation of cat grooming behavior is that it helps maintain social hierarchy within the group. Cats are territorial animals and use scent to mark their territory.

By grooming another cat, they’re spreading their scent onto them, asserting dominance over that cat. This behavior is often observed in multi-cat households where there may be competition for resources such as food or attention from their human owners.

However, excessive grooming behavior can also be a sign of stress or anxiety in cats. If you notice one cat constantly grooming another to the point where it becomes excessive or aggressive, it may indicate an underlying issue that needs addressing.

As pet owners, it’s crucial to pay attention to our feline friends’ behavior and try to understand their actions to ensure their well-being and happiness. The next time you see your cat grooming themselves or another cat, take a moment to consider the various interpretations behind this behavior.

It may give you insight into your furry friend’s emotional state and help you provide them with the care they need to thrive.


To wrap things up, feline grooming behavior is a captivating and multifaceted aspect of cat communication.

Despite their independent nature, cats are capable of forming strong social bonds with other cats, and licking is a crucial element in strengthening these bonds. When one cat licks another, it can be a sign of affection and bonding, as well as an essential way to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

However, excessive licking or grooming behavior may indicate underlying medical or behavioral issues that require veterinary attention. Being aware of your cat’s behavior is vital to providing them with the love and care they need.