Why Do Cats Groom Each Other? Excessive Licking In Cats

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 If you are the proud owner of several cats, you have probably already been able to observe this amazing phenomenon: your two favorite felines licking each other and conscientiously. However, you thought that the cat was rather a solitary and autonomous animal that did not need anyone to wash. So why do cats groom each other? What does this behavior mean? Is it a sign of affection?

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other :

Strengthen Social Ties

For cats, grooming each other is a way to express their group cohesion, to strengthen their bonds. This is the first answer to the question of why do cats groom each other. Indeed, cats do not wash just any feline! They must know each other well and even live together. This act of grooming another cat is therefore reserved for close friends or even family.

In addition, it can happen that a cat (most often a cat) sees his maternal instinct reappear in the face of a younger cat. He will then naturally begin to groom him as he would with his own little one.

why do cats groom each other

Get Help

One of the answers to the question of why do cats groom each other is gel help. Cats find it difficult to reach certain areas of their body when grooming. This is particularly the case of the neck, the head, or the nape of the neck. Thus, grooming a congener is an excellent way to help him stay clean everywhere.

We can also notice that, generally, cats that are groomed are particularly cooperative by tilting or turning their heads as they are licked. Some even go so far as to purr during their grooming session. Thus, this shows that being groomed is a particularly relaxing feeling, a bit like a massage. It may also explain why cats love to be stroked around the head and neck, the sensation reminding them of being groomed by a fellow cat.


 Avoid The Fight

Studies have shown that it is often the dominant cats who lick the dominated cats, and not the other way around. The reason? Our feline friends prefer to use the toilet to ease tension rather than provoke a fight. In other words, the licking cat shows his dominance over the licked cat to make it understand that it is useless to go as far as confrontation.

This allows the dominant cat not only to redirect aggression but also to avoid being attacked while maintaining its hierarchical position. It is, therefore, also an excellent way to maintain cohesion in the group.

why do cats groom each other


My cat licks itself all the time, why?

 "To clean itself constantly, the cat is the only animal which is clean, and therefore worthy of being caressed." said Louis Pasteur. But between the reasonable and the excessive, some cats quickly go beyond the line of grooming.

Meticulous Cleanliness

Grooming behavior allows your cat to maintain the cleanliness of his coat and to expel parasites and foreign bodies.

This is an important and fragile behavior. Important because it occupies a significant part of the cat's activity time, between 10 to 30%. Fragile, since it deteriorates very easily during changes in the environment. It is very often one of the first symptoms of affections, behavioral or not, of the cat.

Generally, licking, performed with the tongue and the forelimbs, is distinguished from scratching, performed with the hindquarters.

Grooming is almost systematic upon waking or after a period of rest. It affects many areas of the body, usually the face first. Then a slow and systematic licking of the body, from head to tail.

The most licked areas are around the mouth (after each meal, especially with wet food), neck, chest, shoulders, and forelegs. Other body areas receive less attention.


From Head To Toes

The washing of the head is the subject of an actual ritual. The cat is still in a sitting position, he stretches his front horizontally, then licks the medial face of its member; he then passes his front, from back to front, over his nose in a circular motion, which gradually extends from the nose until reaching the ear (three passes are necessary to reach the ear) ; the cat licks its paw at each pass, and uses it a bit like a washcloth. Once the ear is reached, the anterior passes successively behind the ear, over the forehead, and the eyes.

When licking, the cat also uses his teeth to catch parasites. The incisors are mainly used to clean the interdigital spaces and to disentangle clumps of clumped hair.

You can trigger licking movements or a scratching reflex by passing your hand over your cat's loins or around the ears.

why do cats groom each other

A Soothing Function

But, besides its strict utilitarian function, grooming has above all a major neurobiological function. Grooming triggers an endogenous production of endorphins, which gives this behavior an anxiolytic function which explains the appearance of licking sequences in situations of annoyance (when your cat has just missed its prey) or frustration ( he wanted to go out, but through the door, you open for him he discovers that it is raining...). Licking then allows your cat to recover from his "emotions". 

Beyond what is expected - regular maintenance of its coat and his morale - it happens that your cat frantically licks himself simply because it is in pain, or under fire from an inflammation (eczema, allergy), or under the offense of flea bites. By his unusual licking, your cat is trying to relieve irritation or pain, as is the case if he spends much more time than usual doing his hygiene, including his stomach. In an attempt to soothe the pain caused by cystitis, some cats manage to no longer have hair on their stomach. Think quickly to consult your veterinarian.

The fact that licking is accompanied by the production of endorphins obviously relieves your cat, but this being accompanied by the release of dopamine, a neuromodulator associated with pleasure, some cats may no longer know how to stop and then adopt what must be called OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or stereotyped behavior. Siamese, the Abyssinian, and Burmese (and Himalayan, to a lesser extent), are the three races most represented in compulsive disorders, self-mutilation, destruction of woolen clothing, etc. 

The mother cat while grooming her litter stimulates her kittens, and envelopes them, with a flick of her tongue, with the smell of the group which will make them unity; it can also, sometimes, break their impulses of independence by cutting short their mustaches, and their prospects for exploration!


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When Everything Gets Tangled Up

It happens, sometimes very suddenly, that the cat's coat clumps together, forming what is called catons. This situation often occurs during molting, in spring and fall, and sometimes when wet weather.

Lack of grooming may be the cause; it most often reflects pain, illness, or depression. Obesity is also sometimes an obstacle to grooming correctly. The catons then form a very unpleasant shell, and only mowing allows you to start on a good basis.

why do cats groom each other


 Excessive Licking In Cats: 6 Things To Know

Excessive licking in cats is a common disorder.  We will give an update on its origin and the means of control.


What causes a cat to groom too much?

“You have just lifted your cat, and you suddenly realize that the hairs on his lower abdomen has disappeared! He now has a rectangle of very smooth skin that extends from the navel to the thighs. Yet you don't see him tearing his hair out! What's happening to him? »

The Cat Breaks Its Hair From Licking Itself

When a cat licks himself all the time, the hair is gradually broken at the root, and large areas without hair appear. The depilated areas are generally symmetrical, it is most often a wholly depilated square on the lower abdomen. In more serious cases, the thighs and flanks can also be completely bare: extensive feline alopecia. In most cases, there are no red patches or scabs, and the skin becomes perfectly smooth and feels cold.


Skin Diseases May Be Involved

Fleas, scabies, lice, ringworm, allergies, skin infections.  Many parasitic or dermatological diseases can trigger excessive licking in cats. Quickly, the dermatological discomfort will affect the character of your cat: he becomes stressed, isolates himself, and makes you believe that it is his stress that causes his compulsive licking the first step is, therefore, to consult your veterinarian for a dermatological examination.

Compulsive Licking Can Be Caused By Anxiety

The cat is an extremely sensitive animal; various events can destabilize it and trigger compulsive licking of anxious origin: 

  • Modification of the territory: move, change of furniture, small jobs, or quite simply a change in the schedules of the owners can trigger stress in the cat.
  • Modification of the family group: the arrival of a baby, a dog, or a new cat, recomposition of the family, and death are frequent causes of destabilization.
  • Insecurity: the passage of stray cats in the garden, deterioration of relations with the masters (punishments), too drastic diet, and traumatic medical care can also be sources of anxiety.

In case of anxiety, the cat tries to calm itself by excessively licking.

A destabilized, stressed, or anxious cat is in an emotional discomfort that invades his daily life. Licking then gives him a momentary relief, in the same way that some people bite their nails in case of anxiety. But if the causes of stress do not disappear, the licking becomes compulsive without the cat calming down for a long time: hairless lesions then appear and are maintained. 

It is always surprising for the guardian to be told that his cat has shaved by dint of licking himself. Indeed, the cat often licks himself in hiding, in one of his fallback areas, and out of sight.

How To Fight Excessive Licking?
  • Step 1: consult your veterinarian to rule out any dermatological disease.
  • Step 2: restore his territory. Try to find out what stressed your cat, and try to reduce (or eliminate) the cause of the stress if possible. Take care of him.
  • Step 3: make the environment soothing. Provide more hiding places for your cat so that it can isolate itself quietly, limit agitation, and use pheromones to make the atmosphere soothing.

Calming Pheromones:

In the event of stress or anxiety, the cat often loses his ability to calm down with his own pheromones because his territorial marking decreases with his anxiety. The use of synthetic pheromones then makes it possible to temporarily overcome this phenomenon and quickly restore a soothing environment.

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