Why Cats Lick Each Other?

Do you have a feline friend who loves to lick other cats? While it may seem strange or even gross, there’s actually a fascinating reason behind this behavior. As it turns out, cats have a highly complex social life and grooming plays an integral role in it.

Grooming serves several purposes for cats. Firstly, it helps them maintain their hygiene and keep pesky parasites at bay. But perhaps more importantly, grooming is a form of social communication between cats. When they lick each other, they are reinforcing their social bonds and strengthening their relationships.

But licking isn’t just limited to cat-to-cat grooming. Mother cats will often lick their kittens to help stimulate urination and bowel movements, ensuring that they stay clean and healthy from the very beginning. And sometimes, cats will groom themselves excessively as a way to calm down when they’re feeling anxious or stressed.

In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the reasons why cats lick each other and debunk some common myths about this behavior. We’ll also provide some practical tips on how to encourage healthy grooming habits in your own feline friend while keeping them clean and happy. So let’s get started – it’s time to uncover the secrets of cat grooming.

What Is Cat Licking?

For starters, let’s talk about why cats lick each other. As social creatures, cats use licking as a way to bond and communicate with one another. When one cat licks another, it’s like they’re saying, “Hey, I like you, let’s be friends.” It’s their way of showing affection and reinforcing social bonds. Think of it as a kitty hug.

But that’s not all – cat licking also serves important hygiene purposes. Cats are notoriously clean animals that spend a considerable amount of time grooming themselves. When one cat licks another, they help to keep their fur clean and free from dirt and debris. It’s like having a personal stylist.

In addition to hygiene and social bonding, cat licking also has physiological benefits. Cats have rough-textured tongues that they use to remove dirt, loose hair, and parasites from their fur. This helps to keep their coat healthy and free from mats and tangles. Additionally, cat saliva contains enzymes that act as natural disinfectants, which can help prevent infection and promote wound healing.

Cat licking also helps regulate body temperature. When a cat licks its fur, the saliva evaporates and cools the skin surface. This is particularly important during hot weather when cats need to regulate their body temperature to avoid overheating.

Last but certainly not least, cat licking is an essential part of strengthening social bonds between cats. When cats groom each other, they exchange scents and pheromones that help establish familiarity and trust. This behavior is especially common in cats that live together as part of a group or family unit.

Social Bonding

Licking is much more than just a grooming behavior. When cats lick each other, they exchange scents and pheromones, which helps them recognize each other as part of the same social group and build trust between them. And that’s not all – licking also releases endorphins in cats, creating a sense of pleasure and comfort.

This feeling of pleasure reinforces the behavior and encourages cats to continue licking each other as a way to strengthen their social bonds. Whether they are related or not, cats living together in the same household will often groom each other as a way of showing affection and building stronger relationships.

As cat owners, it is crucial to allow our furry friends to engage in this natural behavior. Not only does it help keep their fur clean and healthy, but it also allows them to build robust social relationships with other cats.


While it’s true that licking is a crucial part of cats’ grooming routine that helps keep their coats immaculate, this behavior also plays a vital role in their social interactions.

First and foremost, licking is a way for cats to express affection and maintain their social bonds. When cats lick each other, they exchange scents and pheromones that help them recognize each other as part of the same social group. It’s like a secret handshake that releases endorphins in cats, creating a sense of pleasure and comfort that encourages them to keep grooming each other.

Moreover, licking also helps establish hierarchy within a group of cats. The dominant cat will often groom the subordinate ones as a way of asserting their authority. Though it might seem harsh, this natural behavior helps maintain order within the group.

In addition to maintaining social bonds and establishing hierarchy, licking also helps distribute a cat’s scent throughout their environment. Cats have scent glands on various parts of their body, including their faces, paws, and tails. When they lick each other, they transfer their scent onto the other cat, creating a familiar and comforting environment.

Lastly, licking can serve as a form of stress relief for cats. Grooming is soothing for them and can help reduce anxiety. So when cats are feeling stressed or anxious, they may seek out another cat to groom as a way to calm themselves down.


This seemingly simple act of grooming goes much deeper, conveying important messages about affection, trust, and hierarchy in their social groups.

Licking as a form of communication starts from a young age. Mother cats lick their kittens not just for cleanliness, but also to stimulate their digestive system and form a strong bond. As kittens grow up, they continue this behavior with each other, using licking as a way to groom and strengthen their relationships throughout their adult lives.

But licking isn’t just about bonding – it’s also a way for cats to mark their territory. Their tongues have scent glands, so when they lick another cat, they leave behind a unique scent. This is especially important in multi-cat households where boundaries and hierarchy need to be established.

Beyond territory marking, licking can also convey submission or dominance. For example, when a dominant cat licks a subordinate cat, it’s asserting its authority. Conversely, when a subordinate cat licks a dominant cat, it’s showing respect and submission.

Dominance and Submission

Dominance and submission play a crucial role in their social structures. It’s not just about growls and hisses – it extends to the seemingly simple act of grooming.

Cats establish social hierarchies, and grooming is a way of reinforcing the hierarchy. The dominant cat will often initiate grooming sessions with lower-ranking cats as a way of asserting their dominance. This behavior is an essential aspect of maintaining order in the group dynamic. However, grooming can also be a sign of submission. In this scenario, a lower-ranking cat may approach a higher-ranking cat and offer to groom them as a sign of deference.

It’s important to remember that dominance and submission are not static in cat social structures. Cats may switch positions in the hierarchy based on various factors, such as age, health, and changes in the group dynamic. Therefore, grooming behavior may also shift depending on these factors.

Through grooming, cats send important messages about trust, affection, and hierarchy. Understanding these dynamics helps cat owners better comprehend their pets’ behavior and interactions with other cats. By recognizing the significance of grooming behavior in feline social structures, you can ensure that your furry friends are living harmoniously together.

Understanding Cat Licking Behavior

In fact, this behavior serves several important functions that can help us better understand our feline friends.

One of the most common reasons why cats lick each other is to show affection and establish social bonds. When cats lick each other, they exchange scents and pheromones that are unique to each individual cat. These scents help cats recognize each other’s identity and establish a sense of familiarity, trust, and security. So if you see your cats engaging in mutual grooming, it’s a sign that they have a strong bond and feel safe with each other.

But it’s not just about bonding. Cats also lick each other for hygiene purposes. For instance, if you have multiple cats living together, you may notice them grooming each other to keep their coats free from parasites such as fleas and ticks. This behavior is especially important for older cats or those with mobility issues who may struggle to groom themselves effectively.

Another reason why cats lick each other is to provide comfort during stressful situations. When one cat is anxious or afraid, the other cat may lick them as a way to soothe them and provide comfort. This behavior is particularly common among kittens who rely on their mother’s grooming behavior for comfort and security.

And let’s not forget about playtime. Cats may also lick each other as a form of play or to initiate social interaction. Younger cats often engage in mutual grooming during playtime, which helps them develop social skills and establish boundaries with other cats.


In conclusion, the act of cat licking is a fascinating and multifaceted behavior that serves a variety of purposes in feline social structures. While it may seem strange or even unappealing to us humans, cats use licking as a means of communication, bonding, and maintaining their hygiene.

From establishing hierarchy to providing comfort during stressful situations, grooming plays an integral role in cats’ complex social lives. By understanding the significance of this behavior, cat owners can gain insight into their pets’ interactions with other cats and ensure that they are coexisting harmoniously.

Whether your feline friends are engaging in mutual grooming as a sign of affection or using licking as a way to keep their coats free from parasites, it’s important to recognize the importance of this behavior for maintaining healthy relationships between cats.

So next time you witness your furry companions engaging in mutual grooming, keep in mind that it’s not just about cleanliness – it’s also a way for them to strengthen their social bonds and show affection towards each other.