Have you ever wondered why cats groom each other?
If you ever do some Google research on allogrooming (cats grooming each other), you’ll probably come across an often-cited 1998 British study, called The Function of Allogrooming in Domestic Cats
This study looked at 89 grooming interactions between 14 male and 11 female domestic cats and came up with the following conclusions:
As a result of these observations, the study’s authors have hypothesised that cats grooming each other may be a way of redirecting potential aggression in domestic cats. Like a displacement behaviour.
I don’t disagree with the study’s findings. I’ve seen this behaviour occurs thousands of times with my own cats as well as client’s cats. I often found it interesting that a third of the interactions resulted in some sort of antagonistic behaviour. Lots of cat guardians even report their cat grooming them personally then suddenly biting. This may indicate a “bubbling over” of that pent up-ness that the grooming is meant to redirect.
Though in my experience I think there’s more to the story. I can’t see that such a socially facilitative behaviour can only have one function.
I would suggest that allogrooming may also serve the following functions:
What I’m really interested in however, is hearing about what you see with your cats. Do they groom each other? Is one in particular mostly the groomer or groomee? Does this fit in with the whole social hierarchy view of allogrooming?
Let me know your stories and thoughts in the comments!
Here’s to happy and healthy cats