Why Do Cats Lick Each Other?

Cats groom one another to show affection and to clean those hard-to-reach spots. It’s kind of like saying, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

By: Shutterstock
Ah, that’s the spot. By: Shutterstock

Our feline friends love to groom. They groom themselves. They groom each other. They even groom people sometimes.

So why do cats lick each other? Here are a few reasons:

1. To Remove Ick After Birth

Mother cats begin licking their kittens from the minute they are born. They do this grooming to remove all the debris and fluids associated with the birth as well as to get the kittens breathing.

It is an inherent behavior, meaning they do this without even really thinking about it.

2. To Show Affection

Cats treat grooming as a pastime. They can spend hours cleaning themselves and each other. They show their love and affection this way.

I once had a tortoiseshell kitten who loved to groom my husband. She would sit on the back of the couch and comb his hair with her claws for what seemed like hours. (My husband drew the line at the “licking his head” part.)

3. To Reach Those Difficult Spots

Cats might clean each other because there are certain spots that are hard for them to reach on their own.

I’m sure you’ve seen your cat wetting her paws and then washing her face. The face is a hard place to wash. The 2-cat home makes it easier. Feline friends don’t let feline friends walk around with dirty faces.

Cats will often clean each other’s ears. Again, this is a hard-to-reach spot for the lone pet. Dual-pet households make this chore simpler. One kitten will wash the other’s ears inside and out. As gross as it sounds, it’s actually a good thing because it removes dirt.

So, those cats who spend the time and effort to clean each other are truly showing that they care.

They could also be saying “Yo, dude. You can’t be seen looking like that!”

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” If that’s true, then all cats must go to heaven.

Additional Resources

Roseann Lahey

View posts by Roseann Lahey
Roseann Lahey has been researching and writing about pet care and behaviors for many years.

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