Two of my cats are best friends. They play together, cuddle together and follow one another around. They also groom one another almost every day. But I noticed that my cats were frequently grooming each other and then immediately starting to fight. At first, I thought that was just the growing pains of living together and figuring out their relationship as my younger cat grew up. When the behavior didnt stop, though, I started to worry that there might be more concern causing the behavior. So, why do cats groom each other and then fight?
But if allogrooming feels good, why is it so common for one cat to bite the other after a grooming session? The bite is a way of letting their grooming partner know that they are slightly overstimulated and need to stop.
Your cat might be trying to initiate play through biting if theyre bored or feeling cooped up. You can think of the lick as being a greeting or a way of establishing that the next behavior is meant to be friendly and all in good fun. Generally, the most common reason for cats that have known each other for a while to start fighting is simply that they startled one another.
Cats tend to react to surprise with aggressive body language and behavior. Small scratches should be monitored closely to make sure they dont become infected while healing. If you cant get close without risking an injury, cover your arms with oven mittens, a towel, or a thick coat and separate your cats.
Contact your vet if you find or suspect anything more severe than a shallow scratch. Putting them in rooms next to each other to sniff and interact under the door is an excellent first step.
Why does my cat lick and then bite my other cat?
But cats are notorious for getting overstimulated by petting and grooming. … So when cats are engaged in allogrooming and one cat suddenly realizes they are done, a bite is one signal to let the other cat know enough is enough. And as keen observation shows, biting is a very effective signal!
Why do cats get along then fight?
Fear Takes Over. This might happen if two cats are sleeping peacefully next to each other, then hear a loud noise. … They see each other puffed up and fear the other is attacking. This could lead to unease and fighting until they figure out they’re still friends.
Do cats lick to show dominance?
Dominant cats may also target sick cats in the house. … Passive aggressive mannerisms from the dominant cat, such as excessive licking, standing on, or sitting on the other cat may be displayed, but swatting and even biting may occur if the submissive cat chooses to stand its ground for too long.
What does it mean when cats are licking each other?
Affection. One of the many ways cats show their affection to someone or something is through licking, similarly to dogs. … Moreover, the grooming between two cats is also a bonding experience. They exchange scent, help each other clean out of reach areas and express how pleased they are with each other’s company.
If youve ever had more than one cat under your roof, you may have noticed a feline behaviour crop up where every so often one cat will begin to lick and groom another.
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If you’re a cat owner, you’ll know what we mean when we say that cats seem to spend almost half their time grooming… and the other half napping! But in reality, cats spend 15 hours of the day sleeping and 15 percent of their time grooming.
Also, it’s a form of social bond between cats — it’s like the feline’s version of petting! Yes, grooming can be a form of feline play , especially for younger cats that might have trouble sitting still!
When it comes to cat behavior, perhaps the best summary is its complicated. Cats have mystified, fascinated and beguiled their people for literally centuries and they dont show any signs of stopping.
In the spirit of you scratch my back and Ill scratch yours, cats are known to engage in a behavior scientists call allogrooming. As the Journal of Ethology points out, allogrooming has been identified and studied in domestic cats since at least the late 20th century. Among other benefits, allogrooming confers social status, builds relational bonds, decreases stress, improves health and simply feels good.
This can especially be the case with younger cats that have lots of energy and have trouble sitting still for too long. As cat behaviorists point out, it is easy to tell when it is play-grooming when you see that claws remain sheathed, body hair stays smooth and flat, hissing and growling are absent and any show of teeth causes no harm. This YouTube video of two friendly cats play-grooming helps you get a visual understanding of what the behavior might look like when it is true play and not feline aggression.
But they have plenty of other methods including biting, hissing, growling, moving away, jumping, hiding and similar strategies. And like different people words have shades of meaning, a cat bite can be gentle/teeth-in and playful or it can be aggressive and meant to cause injury. These products can provide your cats with alternate outlets for meeting their grooming needs and finding some much-needed personal space.
Why Would Two Cats Suddenly Start Fighting
There are a lot of reasons for cats to start fighting suddenly. After all, cats can be relatively solitary animals. Even when they do associate with other cats, like the feral cat pods you see in the wild, they only tend to associate with cats that they’ve known for a long time or are directly related to.Generally, the most common reason for cats that have known each other for a while to start fighting is simply that they startled one another. Cats tend to react to surprise with aggressive body language and behavior.Cats can also start fighting if one is pushing the other’s boundaries too far or if they are very excited by something. Sometimes introducing a new toy or treats can temporarily cause fights.
Is Cat Grooming A Sign Of Dominance?
Yes, grooming is a sign of dominance. It’s also a sign of affection since two cats that don’t like each other won’t attempt to groom one other, but the kind of grooming and who gives and who receives grooming are expressions of dominance.In allogrooming, when two or more cats are grooming one another, the more dominant cat is likely the cat that does more grooming. The cat that receives grooming is usually less dominant.In cats where the relationship is incredibly close, like littermates, it may be hard to tell which cat is the more dominant. That may be because closer cat relationships sometimes have less of a social pecking order.
1. Both indoor and outdoor cats allogroom.
While I’m not saying they both allogroom at the same rate or frequency (house cats typically allogroom more since they are in closer proximity to other cats, and that’s a factor in whether there will be more allogrooming), still – both indoor and outdoor cats engage in allogrooming behaviour.
Scientific Studies About Domestic Cat Allogrooming
While there have been a few studies done on the topic of domestic cat allogrooming, the research does seem to be a little thin in this department quantity-wise.Of the research out there, Ruud van den Bos published an excellent paper in 1998 called “The Function of Allogrooming in Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris cams); a Study in a Group of Cats Living in Confinement,” and it’s where I’ve pulled the vast majority of facts for this article from.I managed to find a full PDF version of the study online, so in case you’d like to go over it yourself, it can be found here.The points from the van den Bos’ paper I find most interesting are as follows;With allogrooming, the vast majority of interactions (94%) began with one animal approaching or inviting the other animal – not when animals were already sitting or lying together.The majority of interactions (91.6%) were unidirectional (one cat licked and groomed the other).Allogrooming usually occurred in the head-neck area.In most cases (69.9%) allogrooming ended when one animal moved away, as opposed to the two staying near one another.A few cases (12%) ended with one animal fleeing the other.Overwhelmingly, groomers either stood (43.6% of the time) or sat up (45.1% of the time) during allogrooming sessions, while groomees often sat (46.6% of the time).Cats that groomed themselves (self-groomed) more and for longer periods of time typically also engaged in allogrooming sessions more frequently and for longer periods of time as well.In this experiment there were 14 male cats and 11 female cats (1 female who was rarely present). Of the allogrooming sessions, 54 (65.1%) were two males, 26 (31.3%) were males with females, and only 3 (3.6%) were two females together. Neutering and spaying likely played a part in this, however – especially since female cats typically engage in allogrooming behaviour much more when they are in heat.Male cats nearly always (90.4%) acted as initiators.Male cats were more active groomers, both in allogrooming situations and in terms of grooming themselves.More often (78.6% of the time) higher ranking cats were the ones who groomed the lower ranking cats.Whether cats were blood relatives
What Domestic Cat Allogrooming is Not
Allogrooming in domestic cats is not about hygiene. Or at least, not exclusively and/or primarily about hygiene and cleaning.If it was only about hygiene, there wouldn’t be such enormous differences in behaviour from gender to gender in cats, as well as in terms of social hierarchy.Obviously, there has to be something more important at play here than hygiene.Allogrooming also can’t be about weaker felines establishing a relationship with dominant cats who then may be able to take care of them, since most allogrooming is instigated and carried out by dominant cats rather than those that are lower rank.For these two reasons, allogrooming doesn’t seem to be about affection either.If it was, it would make sense that dominant and submissive cats, and male and female cats would all be relatively equally giving of allogrooming to other cats.The last theory that is unlikely to be true is mentioned in the study I’ve referred to’s discussion.Allogrooming also doesn’t appear to be a tool to reduce stress that may have come about because of conflicts or being in close proximity to other animals, either.The why comes to down many reasons, the most swaying, in my opinion, coming down to the fact that if allogrooming was merely about reducing stress in the group, there should be little to no difference whether dominant or less dominant cats are the ones to instigate and carry out allogrooming.But there is a huge difference – dominant cats are almost always the instigators and the ones to lick and groom lower ranking cats. So again, there appears to be more to allogrooming than stress reduction.