Why Does My Cat Lick My Dog?

Have you ever caught your cat licking your dog and wondered why?

It’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to engage in some peculiar behavior, but this one may have left you scratching your head. You may have even chuckled at the sight of your cat giving your dog a bath, but now you’re curious about what it all means.

Believe it or not, cats and dogs can form some pretty unique bonds despite their reputation for being archenemies. So why do cats lick dogs?

Well, there are actually a few reasons behind this behavior. From showing affection to asserting dominance, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the different reasons why your cat may be giving your dog a good tongue bath. We’ll explore the various types of interactions between cats and dogs, the different types of licking behaviors to look out for, and what it all means for your furry friends.

So, buckle up and get ready to discover why your cat is so keen on licking your dog.

Social Bonding

It may seem like an odd behavior, but it actually serves a purpose – social bonding.

Both cats and dogs have unique ways of expressing affection, and licking is one of them. Cats are social animals that form strong bonds with their owners and other pets in the household.

Licking is a natural behavior for cats, and when they lick a dog, it can signify affection, grooming, or social bonding. This grooming behavior not only helps to remove loose hair and dirt from the dog’s coat but also reduces stress and anxiety in both cats and dogs.

Interestingly, cats have scent glands on their tongues that they use to mark objects or animals with their scent. When a cat licks a dog, it could be marking them as part of their social group.

This type of behavior is more common in cats and dogs that live together for an extended period. However, not all instances of cat licking are positive.

In some cases, cats may excessively lick dogs out of anxiety or fear, which can lead to hair loss or skin irritation in the dog. As pet owners, it’s crucial to understand our pets’ behavior and intervene if necessary to ensure that both animals are happy and healthy in their household.

Licking is just one of the many ways they express their affection towards each other.

Dominance Assertion

This common behavior is merely a natural instinct known as dominance assertion. Let’s delve into what this entails.

When cats feel the need to establish their dominance over other animals in the household, they display this behavior. By grooming other animals like they would their own kind, they are attempting to assert their authority.

So, when your cat licks your dog, they are essentially saying, “I’m the boss here.” But don’t worry; this behavior isn’t necessarily negative or harmful, and it’s a natural way for cats to establish their hierarchy within their social group.

However, if your cat’s dominant behavior becomes aggressive or causes distress to your dog, it’s crucial to intervene and seek professional help. If you notice your cat slapping your dog during grooming or licking sessions, it could be a sign of over-excitement or insecurity.

In this case, it’s essential to supervise their interactions and provide separate resting areas for each pet. Additionally, if your dog is licking your cat’s private parts or vice versa, it could also be a sign of dominance assertion.

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It’s important to discourage this behavior and redirect their attention to other activities. So, if your cat licks your dog, there’s no need for concern; it’s just their way of establishing dominance.

However, if this behavior becomes problematic or causes distress to your pets, seeking professional help and providing separate resting areas for each pet is critical.

Communication Needs

While both animals use licking to show affection, bonding, and communication, they have different ways of expressing themselves. Dogs are social pack animals, while cats are independent and solitary creatures.

This divergence in their nature can result in misunderstandings and miscommunications. Pet owners should be vigilant about their pets’ behavior and body language when they interact with each other.

For instance, if a cat is excessively licking a dog, it may be a sign of an underlying issue such as anxiety or stress. Similarly, if a dog is always licking a cat’s private areas, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition or behavioral problem.

Moreover, the reasons why a cat would lick a dog could differ. Cats may lick dogs as a way to groom them or show submission.

In some cases, a cat may also lick a dog to assert dominance or establish their territory. To ensure a happy and healthy relationship between your furry friends, you need to be patient and understanding.

Observe their behavior carefully and address any potential issues promptly. You may also consider providing separate resting areas for each pet if necessary.

Stress Relief

It may seem like an unusual behavior to us humans, but it’s actually a common occurrence in the animal world.

Believe it or not, it’s a natural way for cats to provide stress relief and establish a bond with their furry friends. Let’s delve into why cats may feel anxious around dogs.

Cats are independent creatures who value having their own space, while dogs are social animals who crave attention and affection. When these two animals are brought together, it can be overwhelming and stressful for the feline.

That’s where licking comes in. When a cat licks a dog, it releases endorphins that have a calming effect on both animals.

It’s like a comforting hug or pat on the back that says, “Everything is going to be okay.” This is why you may notice your cat licking your dog when they’re feeling stressed or anxious.

But stress relief isn’t the only benefit of this behavior. Licking also helps to establish a bond between the two animals.

Grooming is typically reserved for members of the same species, so when a cat grooms a dog, it’s essentially saying, “You’re one of us.” This gesture helps both animals learn to respect and trust each other, leading to a lasting friendship.

It’s important to note that not all cats will lick dogs for stress relief. Some cats may exhibit fear or aggression towards dogs, which can be problematic.

If you notice any negative behaviors from your cat around your dog, keep a close eye on their interactions and seek professional help if necessary. So next time you see your cat licking your dog, don’t be alarmed.

As long as both animals are comfortable and happy in each other’s company, there’s no need to worry about this behavior.

Excessive Licking: Warning Signs

Cats are fascinating animals, renowned for their cleanliness and grooming habits.

However, if you notice that your feline friend is licking excessively, it could be a warning sign of an underlying health or behavioral issue. It’s important to pay attention to their behavior and take action early on.

One possible reason for excessive licking is anxiety or stress. If your cat is constantly licking your dog, they may be trying to alleviate their stress.

Keep an eye out for other signs of anxiety such as hiding or excessive meowing. Another reason could be that your cat is grooming your dog.

While this may seem harmless, it’s crucial to make sure that your cat isn’t causing any harm to your dog’s skin or coat. Excessive licking of your dog’s ears or genitals could also indicate a medical condition, so it’s best to take them to the vet for a check-up.

If you suspect that your cat’s excessive licking is due to a behavioral issue, it’s essential to seek the help of a licensed animal behaviorist. They can work with you and your pets to address the problem and create a harmonious environment for everyone.

By monitoring their behavior and seeking veterinary care or professional help when necessary, you can ensure that both pets are happy and healthy in your home.

What to Do if Your Cat is Licking Your Dog Excessively?

Cats and dogs are natural companions, but when your feline friend starts excessively licking your dog, it can cause discomfort and irritation. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to address this behavior and ensure a harmonious relationship between your pets.

Understand the Behavior

The first step is to understand why your cat is licking your dog excessively. Is it a sign of affection or aggression? Observe their behavior closely, and if you notice any signs of aggression or irritation, take action to address it.

Rule Out Medical Issues

Next, rule out any underlying medical issues that could be causing the excessive licking. Schedule a visit with your vet to diagnose any health problems such as allergies, skin conditions, or parasites.

Redirect Their Attention

Cats tend to engage in obsessive behaviors when they’re bored or have excessive energy. Provide your cat with toys, scratching posts, or interactive playtime to redirect their attention away from your dog’s fur.

Create Separate Spaces

Your pets need their own personal space. Create separate areas for eating, sleeping, and playing so that they can have their own time without getting into each other’s space. This will help prevent any territorial problems that could lead to excessive licking.

Use Deterrents

If your cat’s excessive licking behavior still persists, try using natural deterrents such as citrus scents, lavender, or eucalyptus oils. These scents can discourage obsessive licking behavior and deter your cat from licking your dog excessively.

Seek Professional Help

If all else fails and your cat’s behavior persists despite taking the above steps, seek professional help from a certified animal behaviorist who can provide customized solutions based on your pet’s individual needs.

In conclusion, excessive licking by your cat may indicate an underlying health issue or behavioral problem that requires attention. By following the above steps and seeking professional help if needed, you can address this issue and ensure happy and healthy pets. Remember, understanding your pets’ behaviors is crucial in building a strong bond between them.

Also Read: Why Is Cat Drooling But Acting Normal? – 21Cats.org


In conclusion, it’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to form unlikely friendships.

While cat licking may seem like a strange behavior to some pet owners, there are several reasons why cats do it. For one, licking is a natural grooming behavior for cats.

It can signify affection, social bonding, and overall well-being. When cats groom dogs, they’re removing loose hair and dirt from their coat while also reducing stress and anxiety in both animals.

Additionally, cat licking can be a way for them to assert control or establish their territory. This behavior isn’t necessarily harmful but rather a natural way for cats to establish hierarchy within their social group.

Moreover, the act of licking helps create a bond between the two animals. Cats are typically solitary creatures while dogs crave attention and affection.

Licking helps bridge that gap and teaches both animals how to respect and trust each other. However, excessive licking could indicate an underlying health condition or behavioral disorder that needs addressing.

Understanding our pets’ behavior is crucial in creating a strong bond between them.