Why do cats groom each other? Cats have unusual and unique behaviors that make them a fascinating species. From kneading your lap (‘making biscuits’) to purring, cats have their own manners of expression that encourage us to love them even more. Your cat is adept at self-grooming, and they spend hours doing it, don’t they? But cats in the same household will often groom each other. Have you ever wondered why? The team at Union Lake Pet Services is here to tell you all about it.
Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?
Grooming is a necessary behavior in all cats because it keeps their skin and coat clean and healthy. It removes dead skin cells, dirt, and other debris, as well as possible parasites. In the wild, it is also a way to erase any scents that can give away the cat’s location and is a defense against predators.
Why do cats groom each other? The answer starts with motherhood. Mama cats groom their kittens to keep them clean. This is true of most mammals. Because of this, grooming between bonded pairs of cats and colonies of felines seems like a normal expression of affection. When cats groom each other it is called allogrooming.
According to a 2016 study on sociality in cats, in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, it was found that allogrooming was one of the three primary ways in which cats create a colony, or bonded group.
Speaking about grooming, one of the other chief reasons for allogrooming is to help each other get clean. There are certain areas of focus during mutual grooming, such as the head, neck, and face, which are hard for each individual cat to attend to on their own. This is where their feline friends come into play, to help them clean those hard to reach spots.
The Order of Things
Another interesting observation among cat colonies is how allogrooming establishes hierarchy. Higher ranking or socially dominant cats do more of this type of grooming than those deemed lower ranking or subordinate cats within their society. Lower ranking kitties will often sit beneath or lie down around the cats that have more authority in their colonies.
Cats prone to fighting or other aggressive behaviors will groom each other to redirect a possible fight. This is good for the individual cat but also the colony because injuries will be avoided, thereby keeping everyone healthier. Allogrooming reduces aggression and encourages social bonding.
Have you noticed your cats allogrooming? This is a social function that also keeps every kitty clean and tidy, as well as gaining them ample affection. Your cat may even try to groom you, as many felines like to lick their owners hands, arms, and face.
Do you have any questions about your feline friend? We’d love to hear from you! We hope we have answered the question, “Why do cats groom each other?” Call us to schedule an appointment or to ask any questions about feline health and behavior.