Yesterday, I was doing the second shift in a pet shop and I overheard two of our customers talking about canines and felines. Sorry, I just love using these words. To put it simply, one of them asked: “Why does my cat lick my dog?”, and I wanted to jump in so badly.
I didn’t, of course, but they continued talking, and I was praying that they would ask me something about it. As someone who’s helplessly in love with animals, I’m constantly learning more about them, and I consider myself a walking Petipedia.
A couple of years ago, my friend had the same “problem” and I had to explain to her that there was nothing wrong with that cat’s behavior. Au contraire, it’s pretty cute. Do you want to know the reason behind it? Here’s the tea!
Why does my cat lick my dog?
I guess you’re pretty used to your pets licking you, but what happens when they start licking each other? Are they showing affection toward one another that way too? Should you start considering yourself as one of those lucky owners whose fluffs are best buddies?
To put it shortly, you’re right – your feline is licking your other fur friend because she likes him. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are a couple of reasons why this is happening, and I personally find them wholesome. If you’re ready to read them, here they are.
1. She’s showing affection
Tell me, how do you know your fluff loves you? When she wants to show her affection toward you, she’ll lick you, spend time in your company, and snuggle with you. Is she doing the same with your dog now?
Well, she actually is! By licking your dog, your kitty is showing affection. Forget about the fighting between pets because that’s obviously not happening in your home.
Of course, they’ll probably annoy each other from time to time, but that’s how siblings or besties behave, right? Your fluff will show other signs of affection too, like kneading their paws, purring, or snuggling with them.
Normal body temperature for both of them is from 101.0 to 102.5 °F or 38.3 to 39.2 °C, and cats like cozy and warm, right? If she snuggles with him, it means that she trusts him unconditionally and that she’s ready to share her love with him.
There is something called social grooming or professionally said allogrooming. This means that the same species of furry animals will keep each other clean. However, if you live in a multi-pet household, you may ask yourself, “Why does my cat lick my dog?”
Cats are social creatures, and they enjoy spending time with other animals. They absolutely love creating bonds, but they have to do that on their own terms. That’s why your feline will start grooming your canine as soon as she feels comfortable around him. She may even nibble on his ear or bite him a bit.
3. She’s marking her territory
Cats are marking their territory in different ways and licking is one of their methods. When you get a dog, your cat will want to mark him as well, in case he decides to hang around with other animals from the hood.
These extremely territorial beings want to have everything under control, and they don’t want intruders trespassing on their land. So, your fluff will do anything to let other cats know what belongs to her, including your canine.
Your feline will rub on him, caress him with her head, or you’ll catch your cat licking your dog. Either way, she’ll leave some of her scents on him, so others know not to mess with him.
4. She’s cleaning your dog
Who’s the cleanest fluff in the animal kingdom? That’s right, your kitty. Your dog, on the other hand, needs some help staying fresh and hygienic. That’s why your feline will gladly jump in. Her tongue has a lot of papillae that have a similar texture to sandpaper.
For that reason, it’s easy for her to clean all the dirt from her and your dog’s fur. Perhaps your canine was particularly smelly today, so your fluff decided to intervene.
You should consider helping your fluff and clean that dog. I know that she has a stronger sense of smell than you, but it’s quite impossible to ignore that weird scent.
5. Your dog smells interesting
Okay, both of these furry buddies are extremely curious beings, so they’ll explore their surroundings all the time. Perhaps he was in your garden while you were having a barbecue with your friends and some grease got stuck on his fur because he was a bit mischievous.
It could also happen that he passed by a plant that had a really pleasant smell for cats, so she’s going to lick your dog simply because he has an interesting scent. Your feline’s nose is her most powerful tool, and even if you can’t smell something, she surely can.
Also, if your doggo was somewhere close to the smells that are deterring her, your cat will avoid him. But don’t worry, they’ll be best buddies as soon as he starts smelling like his normal self again.
6. She’s welcoming him into the pack
If you’re a first-time pet owner, you have to keep in mind that cats are creatures of habit. They don’t like changes and new fluffs in the household. So, one of the reasons your feline is licking your doggo is because she wants to welcome him into the pack.
Cats usually have a hard time accepting new animals into their household, and there are some rules on how you should introduce a new cat into your home. So, if your cat just met your dog, and she’s licking him, you can relax. She likes him a lot, and that’s her way of welcoming him into the pack.
Is it possible that my cat confused my dog for another cat and that’s why she’s licking him?
Even though some people do believe that this is one of the reasons why your cat licks a dog, it’s quite impossible. These species are very distinct and they can perfectly say who does or doesn’t belong to their tribe.
It’s reasonable to assume that both cats and dogs can easily adapt and pick up the behavior from one another, but they surely know that they are different. That being said, they can love and take care of each other because they are parts of the same family and see one another as such.
Should I allow my cat to lick my dog?
To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with this kind of behavior. Yes, you can let your cat lick your dog because that’s the way they actually communicate. This is also the way they are strengthening their bond, and I guess that’s not a problem for any pet parent. We all want peace in our households, right?
You shouldn’t let your cat lick your dog only when he has problems with fleas. Some of the products that are used to treat canines, in this case, are toxic to our felines. So, better to be safe than sorry. I know that they may be a bit disappointed and sad even, but it’s for their own good.
Also, if you have a long-haired breed, you shouldn’t let your cat groom your dog too often. This is only to prevent hairballs and possible problems with ingesting them. She has enough hair on her own, it’s not like she needs more, right?
Why is my cat licking my dog’s ears?
As you know, cats have a really strong sense of smell; and whether you like it or not, they are attracted to the smell of earwax. I know this sounds gross, but this oily protection actually has some nutrients that are essential for cats (proteins and fatty acids, to be precise).
You shouldn’t be surprised if your feline starts licking your ear, or a used cotton swab. This doesn’t mean that you should allow her to dig into your garbage, but it’s surely nothing to worry about if she ingests a bit of earwax while she’s grooming your dog or herself.
Does my dog like it when my cat licks him?
I’m not going to lie, at the beginning your dog may think of it as something bad. He may be a bit afraid that the cat will do something harmful to him, but as soon as he realizes that she’s just expressing her love, he’ll go with the flow and even start kissing her back.
Usually, if you have a bit older cat, and you just adopted a puppy, or you got them both when they were little, I guarantee you that their bond will be unbreakable. They will spend a lot of time grooming each other and expressing love in many ways.
Why is my cat biting my dog and licking him?
Don’t worry, she’s not being aggressive. In fact, when grown-up female cats bring little kittens into the world, that’s how they take care of them. She’s actually grooming him properly, and it’s the same when your cat licks you and nibbles or bites you afterward. That’s her way of expressing love.
However, if you notice that something weird is happening, separate them as soon as possible. Sometimes cats get overstimulated even though they were the ones who initiated the cuddling session. It’s pretty rare, but this can lead to aggression and your cat may start scratching and biting your dog with the intention to hurt him.
What are other ways my cat shows affection?
As you could conclude by now, if your cat licks your dog, it’s pretty obvious that she likes him. There are other ways that she’ll express her affection towards him, and those almost completely match her behavior toward you.
She’s going to start kneading or “making biscuits” on his back, tummy, or legs (if he allows it, of course). This is her way of showing that she feels safe and well, at the same time she’s marking her territory because of the sweat glands on her paws.
If your cat is really fond of your dog, she’ll follow him around the house all the time. This may annoy bigger dogs a bit, but that shouldn’t worry you much. It may also turn into a playtime and cuddling session afterward.
Your feline will also rub her face against your dog simply because she likes him. That sort of behavior is nothing strange because she does the same with you, right? This way, she’s leaving her pheromones on both of you and saying to other animals that you’re her family.
In general, when your feline likes her companion, she’ll groom him and snuggle with him most of the time.
So, you shouldn’t worry about the licking, unless she starts showing signs of aggression. In that case, you should separate them and consult your vet or animal behaviorist because they can give you valuable advice on how to handle the situation.