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Mutual Grooming Is A Sign Of A Cat’s Affection

Have you ever wondered why cats groom each other and then fight? Mutual grooming is actually a sign of affection!

Cat Grooming

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other and Then Fight?

To us humans, cats are interesting creatures. We often find our feline friends’ behavior puzzling, but there’s always a good reason behind why cats do what they do!

Bathtime Rituals 

If you have more than one cat in your household, you may have noticed a cute bath time ritual. One cat might approach the other and gently start licking him or her. Typically, they will lick areas that are difficult to reach when self-cleaning, such as the head, face, neck, or ears. Coincidentally, these places are also most cats’ favorite areas to show affection!

True cat lovers will melt at such a sweet moment, whipping out the camera to capture it forever. This moment is especially endearing if the two cats are not particularly close to each other, or, better yet, they are not “related”; it’s definitely more common to see kittens that were brought up together to share this kind of affection. So why is it that even the most estranged cats decide to clean each other?

Mutual Grooming

Mutual grooming is most definitely a sign of affection and a clear indicator that, overall, your cat companions enjoy being in each other’s company. It’s a sign that these two cats love and trust each other. Mutual grooming may be related to a couple of different social scenarios:

  • Motherhood: Typically, cat moms clean their kittens. When the kittens grow up, that bathtime ritual turns into social bonding. Usually in groups, the higher ranked cat or the older one does the grooming.
  • Welcome: If you’ve recently adopted a new cat and your other cat companion begins to lick their face, this may be a sign of the original cat welcoming the new cat into the household. Mutual grooming helps to spread the household smell to the new cat, identifying them as part of the family and protecting them from outsiders.
  • Disease: Unfortunately, mutual grooming could indicate that something is wrong. If the other cat is focusing on a specific area for a long period of time, they may have noticed a health problem. In this case, bring your cat in for a checkup.

As a general note, if there are any existing open scars or damage, it is beneficial to keep the cats apart to avoid damage and hypersensitivity.


While your feline friends are grooming each other, they may start to bite or nibble. This is typically to get a deeper cleaning. Don’t be alarmed if this turns into playtime! It is simply part of the feline instinct. The groomed cat may have lost its patience, or it may just be a playful fight! If it develops into a real fight, be careful to separate the cats and keep them apart. If real fights become a regular issue, we recommend seeking the advice of a veterinarian.

At time, it may turn out that you’re the one being groomed by your cat! Typically, their scratchy tongue is a sign of affection. Your cat companion is showing you that they love you and want you to be part of the good smelling cat family!

We also would like you to be part of ours! Join our cat lovers community @MyCatsEssentials. We 
treat our cats like family and we care about the environment. 


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