Why do cats care for other animals
Grooming: Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?
Do you have two (or more) cats? Then you have probably already seen how one cat licks the fur of the other. A sign of love? In fact, cats groom each other for a variety of reasons.
In technical jargon, mutual grooming is referred to as allogrooming. And the question of why cats actually lick each other's fur clean has occupied even scientists for several years. For example, in 1998 a Dutch researcher studied the function of this behavior in domestic cats. The result of his study is probably astonishing for many cat owners.
Cats groom each other as a sign of hierarchy
Because on the basis of his observations, the researcher concludes that the supposedly loving licking is not always so lovingly motivated. Rather, his analyzes suggest that cats divert their aggression towards another cat into grooming, so to speak, if an open confrontation could be disadvantageous for the cat. He comes to this conclusion, among other things, because in 35 percent of the cases the cat that cared for the other also showed fighting behavior.
In addition, the hierarchy between cats plays an additional role in grooming each other. Higher-placed cats licked the fur of lower-placed cats more often than the other way around. In addition, they assumed a higher body position, for example while standing or sitting. Grooming can also be a consolidation of the position of power. Instead of reminding the other cat of their position with a fight in which one of the two could be injured, cats also use allogrooming for this.
In contrast, a 2004 study examined the social behavior of cats living in the wild. The researchers found that only cats groom each other that had previously had a social relationship with each other. Cats outside of the group did not enjoy grooming until they became part of the group.
Mutual grooming as a sign of solidarity
In a study published in 2016, a scientist from the University of Bristol compared the current state of knowledge about social behavior in cats. Among other things, he notes that mutual grooming is a sign of solidarity within a group. Another behavior that serves this purpose is the mutual rubbing against each other.
And: Many researchers agree that cats clean each other's heads and necks in particular. So for areas that are difficult to get to yourself, they get help with grooming. Pretty smart, right?
Cats learn to groom each other from their mothers
When kittens are born, their mother usually licks them off properly. Opposite side grooming is one of the earliest experiences cats have. In this way the cat mom shows that she loves and protects her young. And it serves a very practical purpose: in the wild, the smell of birth could attract enemies. According to the magazine "Catster", kittens can only look after their fur themselves when they are four weeks old.
Why is that so important?
You may be wondering why you should know all of this. After all, that's an inter-cat behavior, isn't it? It is not quite that easy. Because when cats live with people, they too become part of the social fabric. Perhaps you have already noticed that your cat particularly likes to be petted on the neck and back of the head. In this way we basically take over the behavior of other cats.
So by knowing how cats interact with each other in a group, we can learn a lot about how to best treat our cats. Because much of the relationship between cats can be transferred to that between humans and cats.
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