Action speaks louder than words! As cat doesn’t have words to say, they show their love, affection, bonding and likeness through their actions. When you see cats licking each other, it implies that they are sharing mutual love among themselves. But that’s not the only reason behind cats’ grooming each other, it’s a part of their behavioral matters and a habit that they do for many reasons. Science also has proven theories to support this tendency of cats to lick each other. There are numerous explanations and statistics discussing why do cats groom each other then fight. If you own a cat, it’s essential to know all the reasons and act accordingly. You must understand your duties and doable actions after determining the fact- why do cats lick each other!

Why do cats lick each other?

Its easy to find out why cats lick themselves, but the reasons aren’t absolute regarding why cats lick each other. Cats use their tongues to maintain hygiene by removing dirt from the fur, detangling the knots, combing the fur etc.  but cats licking each other refers to something different. It might be a sign to manifest their bonding, familial connections and show protective attitude for fellow cats. There might be some diseases to associated with such licking behavior. Check the following list to know all the reasons in terms of scientific explanation plus statistics for this behavior.

  • Cats lick each other to show a physical display of their love/fondness/bonding for each other.
  • They tend to lick each other if they derive from the same bloodline.
  • Adult cats lick the kittens to identify them as family members and stranger the bond.
  • A cat may lick another cat to adopt a protective position. This proves that both the cats are at peace with themselves.
  • Cats may lick each other to help in keeping them clean.
  • A cat will lick another cat if it understand any signs or symptoms of disease or discomfort in the fellow cat.
  • Sometimes cats lick each other before a fight, it’s a habitual fact. Some people define it as a playful activity.
  • A cat may lick the other to show dominance over the peers.

What does science say?

Science has something to say about anything happening in this world. Though, the topic about the behavior of cats didn’t undergo significant scientific experiment. An old study conducted by Ruud van den Bos can be considered as the best research paper in this regard. This study proved that grooming is a natural habit of the cats. It doesn’t necessarily mean or refer to the involvement of gender or reproduction system.

In 91.6% cases, the grooming was one directional. One cat licked the other. Only the 31.3% of the grooming sessions took place between two cats from different gender. The rest of the sessions took place between cats from the same gender. Which implies that gender has little to do in this regard. In most of the cases, male cats imitated the grooming. And there was no significance evidence proving that blood relatives tend to lick each other more frequently and for longer period.

Different scientific journals and studies also indicates that cats are self-cleaning animals having specialized tongue capable of cleaning the fur. They have small segments right over their tongues named papillae. These papillae are actually tiny hollow pipes with pointy U-shaped tips. They use this part of the tongue to clean themselves and also lick other cats to help in cleaning. Cats tend to lick each other as a sign of bonding, love and mutual understanding and to practice dominance. Besides, licking is a part of grooming behavior. If you are wondering how it can be a cat grooming behavior, keep reading to discover the answer.

Is this habit a kind of cat grooming behavior?

You may often see two or more members of a single species engaging into a social grooming, licking and cuddling each other. This is more common in cats. This is one of the sweetest sights you will ever witnessed from the pets. Cats are beautiful and adorable, it looks ecstatic when they lick and groom each other. Though cats lick each other for many known and unknown reasons, in most of the cases it results in grooming behavior. Why do cats groom each other? You’ll get the answers in the following section.

Why do cats groom each other?

why do cats groom each otherGrooming is actually a sign of social acceptance and appreciation. You’ll never see two stranger cats grooming right away. They will take their time and get closer gradually. Besides, most of the grooming activities take place in the head and neck area. A cat cant reach to these parts of the body themselves. Here comes the need of another cat. Go through the following portion of the article to know the reasons behind this grooming behavior of cats.

Expressing friendly relationship

Cats groom each other taking it as a form of mutual undemanding, love and fondness. A cat will groom other cats if only it feels safe, relaxed and trusted to them. This proves that cats groom each other to express friendly relationship.

Showing bonding and family relations

showing bonding and family relationsCats from the same family tend to groom each other more comfortably. If the kittens derive from the same litter, grow up together, they will develop a strong familial bonding. Licking and grooming each other might be a sign of affection for the family members.

Protecting the the fellow

A new cat may come to live with a old gang. Sometimes they engage in a fight but the opposite also happens. If the new comer feel unsafe or uncomfortable, any of the old ones may come forward and take a protective stance beside the fellow cat. This licking activity conveys the message- “I’m here to protect you.”

Practicing motherly love

There are some commonalities among every species in terms of motherly love and affection. Mother often licks and grooms its kittens and protect it from any potential harm. This creates a bonding between mother and kittens and contribute to the development of a smell distinctive to the kittens. This smell helps the mother recognize its own kittens.

Manifesting dominance

Not everyone is a leader. The same thing goes with a group of cats. Sometimes cats groom and licks each other to exhibit their dominance over the peers. Male cats are more prone to this behavior trait. In most of the cases, dominant cats initiate this sort licking and grooming.

Reacting to diseases

Grooming and licking is very common and a natural habit of the cats. Theres nothing to worry about it. but there might be some underlying reasons of unusual painstaking grooming. Be watchful about that. Check your pets before it gets too far. Find out if it is reacting to any disease or displaying the natural grooming activity. Keep reading to know signs that tell cats aren’t really doing well.

Signs that tell cats aren’t really doing well

Grooming and licking is very natural in cats but not licking too much. If you see a cat licking another cat at the same spot continuously, there might be some real problems. Cats also lick and groom themselves due to stress and anxiety. Sometimes parasites, food allergies, wound abscess and cystitis can cause the cats to spend a great deal of time grooming and licking each other.

Stress/ anxiety

Cats may overgroom themselves being affected by stress and anxiety. It may also be caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder. Humans tend to bite nails when they are tensed, cats tend to groom and lick themselves. A cat may get stressed due to a sudden move, boredom, abuse etc.

What can you do?

Don’t change your cats routine or living place drastically. You can provide it with toys and more attention to help reduce the stress. A cat behaviorist also can suggest you some additional activities to help the cat overcome stress and anxiety.


Fleas and mites are common parasites of any animals. Theses parasites cause sheer irritation. And some animals are allergic to fleas and mites. Constant licking and grooming may indicate the presence of fleas to a great degree. and, a cat may develop secondary bacterial infection if the skin become sores.

What can you do?

Monthly flea preventative can help a cat get rid of too much fleas and mites. Don’t allow your cat to go out frequently. Cats who stays outside are more susceptible to fleas.


Some cats might have allergic reaction to certain foods. Food allergies can cause serious itchiness and scratch on the skin. This may lead a cat to lick and groom more than usual. Beef, seafood, soy, lamb, corn, wheat and dairy products are the most common allergic foods for the cats.

What can you do?

Its tough to determine which food causes your cat to have allergic reactions. If you ever understand that, avoid that particular type of foods while feeding the cats.


There are good chances of a cat getting wounded by a fight or a blow from the human. A wound may intrigue the cats to lick the wounded spot more often. Wounds abscess is caused by animal bites. A cat may face this unpleasant thing and delve into more licking and grooming.

What can you do?

If your cat gets wounded, take extra care of it. clean the wounds meticulously. If the wound seems serious, consult a veterinarian. Try to prevent an abscess.

Don’t let them pick a fight

You might be wondering why do cats groom each other then fight? Well! The exact reason is yet to be discovered. This is a weird behavior treat commonly seen among cats. They engage themselves in friendly mutual grooming, all on a sudden, within a minute, the friendly grooming and licking turn into a full-blown fight. And its not rare that they bite each other losing the patience. You shouldn’t stop them if it’s a light fight indicating a play fighting. If the fight seems to get serious, don’t let them go on. But, before that, consider your safety. Stay away if the cats are in a vicious mood.


It will give you sheer pleasure if you see two of your cats are licking, grooming and cuddling each other. This is a bliss to watch for the pet lovers. Specially, when the senior cats groom the younger kittens, it creates an amazing ambience. The expression of love and affection is beautiful as always. But this beauty may take a bad shape if the cats engage in fight and harm each other. That’s why knowing why do cats lick each other is important. It will help you to understand the potential danger and become cautious and caring toward the cats so that one doesn’t become the reason of problem/death to another.



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