Why Do My Cats Lick Each Other?



As a cat owner, you may have noticed your furry friends engaging in a behavior that might seem peculiar at first – licking each other. While it may seem strange to us humans, this behavior is actually quite common among cats and serves several important purposes. Understanding why cats lick each other is essential for cat owners, as it helps us better understand our feline companions and their social dynamics.

If you’re curious about why cats engage in this behavior, you may also be interested in learning about other cat behaviors. For example, have you ever wondered why cats like the humidifier? Check out our article on why do cats like the humidifier? to find out more. Additionally, if you’ve ever wondered why your cat licks your face, we have an article on why does my cat lick my face? that you might find interesting.

Reasons Why Cats Lick Each Other

Cats licking each other is a form of social grooming. It is a behavior that helps strengthen the bond between cats, especially those that live together or have a close relationship. Social grooming serves several purposes, including stress reduction and hygiene maintenance.

During grooming sessions, cats not only clean each other’s fur but also exchange scents. This scent exchange helps cats recognize each other as part of the same social group and promotes a sense of belonging. It also helps cats establish a familiar scent within their shared environment, which can reduce conflicts and territorial disputes.

Establishing Hierarchy and Dominance

In addition to strengthening social bonds, cats licking each other can also be a way to establish hierarchy and dominance within a group of cats. Dominant cats may initiate grooming sessions with subordinate cats as a way to assert their authority. This behavior is more commonly observed in multi-cat households where cats need to establish their positions within the group.

During grooming sessions, dominant cats may display behaviors that indicate their higher status, such as positioning themselves in a more elevated position or grooming the subordinate cat more vigorously. These behaviors help establish and maintain the social order within the group.

Scent Marking and Territory

Cats have scent glands on their tongues, which they use for scent marking. When cats lick each other, they are not only grooming but also spreading their scent. This scent marking behavior helps cats establish and maintain their territory.

By exchanging scents through grooming, cats create a unified scent profile within their social group. This unified scent helps them recognize each other as part of the same group and reduces the likelihood of conflicts over territorial boundaries. It also serves as a form of communication, conveying information about the cats’ social status and group affiliation.

Alleviating Stress and Anxiety

Another reason why cats lick each other is to alleviate stress and anxiety. Grooming releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good hormones that help cats relax. Engaging in mutual grooming can be a comforting and soothing experience for cats, especially during stressful situations.

Cats may seek comfort from each other through grooming when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This behavior helps them feel secure and reassured, as they receive physical contact and attention from their feline companions. Mutual grooming can also help strengthen the bond between cats and promote a sense of security within the group.

Medical Reasons for Excessive Licking

While cats licking each other is generally a normal behavior, excessive licking may indicate an underlying medical issue. If you notice that your cats are excessively licking each other to the point of causing irritation or hair loss, it is important to monitor the situation closely.

Excessive licking can be a sign of allergies, skin conditions, or other medical problems. If you suspect that there may be a medical issue causing the excessive licking, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian. They can evaluate your cats’ health and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

Is Cats Licking Each Other a Form of Grooming or Affection?

Cats licking their nose can be seen as a form of grooming and affection. When cats groom each other, it not only helps in cleaning their fur but also strengthens their bond. Licking stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins, promoting a sense of closeness and trust between feline companions. So, this seemingly simple act of cleaning their noses holds deeper meanings for cats.


Cats licking each other is a natural and instinctive behavior that serves multiple purposes. It helps strengthen social bonds, establish hierarchy and dominance, spread scent for territorial marking, and alleviate stress and anxiety. As cat owners, it is important to observe and understand this behavior to ensure the well-being and harmony of our feline companions.

By understanding why cats lick each other, we can better appreciate the complex social dynamics of our furry friends. So the next time you see your cats engaging in this behavior, you’ll know that it’s their way of showing affection, maintaining social order, and keeping themselves clean and content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats groom each other?

Cats groom each other as a form of social bonding and to maintain hygiene.

Is it normal for cats to lick each other excessively?

Excessive licking between cats may indicate an underlying medical issue and should be monitored.

How can I encourage my cats to groom each other?

Providing a stress-free environment and ensuring each cat has their own space can encourage mutual grooming.

Can cats groom each other if they don’t get along?

Cats may still groom each other even if they don’t get along, as grooming can help reduce conflicts and establish territory.

Should I intervene if my cats are grooming each other too roughly?

It is important to monitor grooming sessions and intervene if it becomes too rough or aggressive to prevent injuries.

What should I do if my cats stop grooming each other?

If cats suddenly stop grooming each other, it may indicate a change in their relationship or a medical issue, and it is recommended to consult a veterinarian.

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