Here is a subject if there is one, which leads to many interpretations very often erroneous! Most of the time, we see a sign of tenderness or affection between cats. It must be said that it is touching to see them do it! The explanation is not so romantic, however. Submission, domination, exchange of smells … Licking can have many different meanings.
It’s hard to say exactly what mutual grooming is in cats. The motivation of the cat is different depending on the way of licking, as well as the area licked.
There are several reasons for cats to lick each other. It can convey feelings of submission or dominance, just as it can simply be convenient for each to have their coats cleaned by the other. Likewise, cats can exchange their scents by licking each other or even strengthening the scent imprint of the group. Everything is possible!
When your cat licks your hands, it may be recovering mineral salts, the salty taste of which is very popular with the tomcats, in addition to avoiding a possible deficiency in trace elements.
Why do cats lick each other?
- Submission: when the licker does a favor for a cat higher up in their hierarchy. This concerns an area that is not often easily accessible by the cat itself, but which does not present a risk of approaching a sensitive area.
- Domination: when on the contrary we lick a sensitive area of a subordinate as if to remind him of the hold we have on him. This is a way of reminding the submissive cat that the dominating cat could hurt them if they wanted to.
- Practical reciprocity: when you take turns grooming areas that are not easily accessible to a friend. Everyone takes their turn, or both cats lick each other at the same time if possible.
- Odor exchange: when cats lick each other before giving nods to first clean the area and then spread their own scent on the buddy.
- Strengthening the olfactory imprint: it’s pretty much the same, and that includes all the cats in the house. This creates a unique scent which serves as a sign of recognition, and which is an assembly of the scents of each member of the clan.
It is this last point that causes cats to often spit when the vet returns. The imprint has been altered by antiseptics and other numerous olfactory elements that can be found at the veterinarian and which act as disruptors on this unique imprint.
You just have to watch closely how your cats lick each other to try to decipher what kind of licking it is!