Why Do Cats Groom Each Other and Themselves: 9 Common Reasons

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Cat Names ending in ie

Why do cats lick themselves? Why do cats groom each other? This article will look at the grooming habits of cats!

Cats are very clean animals, they groom themselves to keep their coats healthy. It may seem like every time you look at your cat, she’s washing yet again. Why do cats constantly lick themselves? Grooming is essential for cat health because it removes dirt, debris, and loose hair. It also helps to remove any ticks or fleas that may be living on the cat’s body. Cats also lick their fur to get rid of food particles, and they will wash after each meal. It’s thought that cats spend approximately 50% of their waking life grooming their fur.

Cats also use licking to communicate with other cats, and new mothers scent mark their kittens by licking them. Let’s look at why cats groom each other. This article will look at cats grooming habits in more detail.

Why do cats groom each other? These cats are bonding during a grooming session, this is known as allogrooming.

Why do cats groom each other?

When cats groom each other, the behaviour is known as allogrooming. Allogrooming is common in many animals, including humans, and refers to grooming between two or more individuals, usually in the same family. This instinctive behavior helps members of the cat colony bond and allows them to maintain a social hierarchy. 

Allogrooming between cats is mainly concentrated around the neck and head area. It’s a social behavior rather than being used for cleaning purposes. Here are some of the most common reasons that cats lick and groom each other.

1. Grooming is a way for cats to bond with each other

Mother cats will lick their kittens to help get rid of amniotic fluid, stimulate breathing and help improve blood flow. Licking also allows the cat to scent-mark her kittens, which makes them easy for her to identify. If the kittens aren’t licked enough in the first few hours of life, the mother is more likely to reject them. The mother licks her kitten to comfort them and offer protection. Licking also helps to warm up the newborn kitten.

Kittens start licking themselves and their littermates from a few weeks of age. They groom each other to bond with their mother and the rest of the litter. The mother cat will continue to lick her kittens throughout the kitten’s life to keep them clean.

Allogrooming is very common amongst kittens, and they will often groom hard-to-reach places on each other. Cats are very flexible but will find it hard to reach certain areas, such as the backs of their heads or their inner ears.

2. Grooming allows cats to share social information through scent.

Grooming is a way for cats to show affection; family members will often groom each other before curling up and sleeping side by side. When a cat grooms another cat, it can mean that they think that cat is higher in social status than themselves. Allogrooming and, in particular, who initiates the behaviour, will depend on a cat’s confidence levels and the position in the colony’s hierarchy.

Licking each other can also be seen as an act of appeasement between two animals who want peace but are unsure how to achieve it without conflict. A cat can show dominance over another cat by licking them to leave a scent on the fur. Most dominant or confident cats will allogroom younger, less-dominant, or less-confident members of the group.

3. Boredom

Sometimes cats will excessively lick themselves or pair up with another cat and groom each other due to boredom.

4. Protection, acceptance, and making friends

Cats will lick new members of the feline household to reassure each other and offer protection. If you’ve recently brought a new cat or kitten home, you may find that your pet starts grooming the newcomer once they’ve got used to each other.

5. Wound cleaning

If you have multiple cats and one is in pain or has been wounded, the others will lick the wounds. Cat saliva is beneficial for wound healing as it contains the compounds opiorphin, lactoferrin, and peroxidase. These have antibacterial properties and help to relieve pain and stop bacteria from infecting the wound.

cats grooming habits

Why do cats lick themselves?

Cats’ tongues contain small, sharp barbs, which are very useful when it comes to grooming. The barbs are known as papillae and will smooth and clean the fur to keep the cat’s coat healthy. They also help to clean deep into the fur to get rid of accumulated dirt.

There are many feline health benefits associated with cat grooming. Cats lick themselves to help keep their coats clean, relieve stress, and get rid of loose hair that may have come out during the day. Here are some other common reasons that cats constantly lick themselves:

1. Stress relief

Have you ever noticed that a cat will lick itself if they are stressed? Grooming can be a way to self-soothe and release stress when the cat is in danger or feels threatened. Grooming releases endorphins in the brain that reduce pain and stress.

2. Pest and allergy irritation

Some cats may lick themselves because they have fleas or an allergic reaction to something in the environment around them. Cats who do not spend enough time grooming their fur can develop skin problems because dirt gets trapped in their coat. Grooming helps prevent skin infections by removing any dangerous particles from a cat’s body before it has a chance to cause damage or irritation.

3. Grooming after catching prey

Cats will also clean their paws with their tongue before catching prey and after handling a kill to remove any traces of blood from their mouth or paw pads that could attract predators. 

4. Temperature Regulation

Cats groom themselves because they have no sweat glands on their skin, so they need to lick regularly to maintain a comfortable temperature. Grooming can help to stimulate the blood flow, which allows cats to stay warm in cold weather.
They also lick themselves to remove moisture and stay cool and dry.

Why do cats lick people

Why does my cat lick me?

It’s been shown that when cats groom their humans, they’re often rewarded with treats and pets. This behavior has been passed on through generations of domestication.

Another reason may be that you’ve recently handled food or touched something smelly and haven’t washed your hands. Your cat may lick you because they like the taste.

Grooming your cat

It’s a good idea to groom your cat regularly, especially if you have a long-haired cat. Most cats can groom themselves, but it’s common for older cats and long-haired cats to become matted.
Regular grooming will prevent matting, reduce shedding and allow you to bond with your cat. It can also help prevent hairballs as you’ll be removing loose fur and preventing it from collecting in your cat’s throat. 

If you’re feeling stressed out, try grooming your pet – it will help relieve some of the tension in your body.

brushing a cat

Why do cats groom each other? Final thoughts

Cats groom themselves for hygiene reasons and because it is pleasurable and reduces stress. Grooming helps to prevent skin infections by removing dangerous particles before they have a chance to cause damage or irritation.

Cats also lick their fur to communicate with other cats; grooming can be a sign of affection, dominance over another animal, or as a way to restore social bonds and hierarchy after an argument.

Check out our grooming article to find the best brush for a long haired cat!

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends!

Recent Cat Care Articles