Why Is My Dog Licking My Cat?

Dogs and cats are known to have unique and sometimes complex relationships. One peculiar behavior that dog owners may notice is their furry friend licking their feline companions. While it may seem strange, there are several possible reasons behind this behavior. In this article, we will explore some of the common explanations for why your dog might be licking your cat.

1. Social Bonding: Licking is a common way for dogs to establish and strengthen social bonds. By licking your cat, your dog is expressing affection and trying to establish a closer relationship.

2. Grooming Instinct: Dogs have an innate grooming instinct, and they may view your cat as part of their pack. Licking is a way for dogs to groom themselves and their pack members, including cats.

3. Sign of Submission: Licking can also be a submissive behavior displayed by dogs. Your dog may be showing deference to your cat, acknowledging its higher rank within the household hierarchy.

4. Stress Relief: Dogs may lick other animals as a way to relieve stress or anxiety. If your dog is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it may seek comfort by licking your cat.

5. Taste and Smell: Dogs are naturally attracted to the taste and smell of their feline friends. Cats groom themselves regularly, leaving scents and flavors that dogs find intriguing.

6. Attention-Seeking Behavior: In some cases, dogs may lick cats simply to get attention from their owners. If your dog notices that you react positively or give them attention when they lick the cat, they may continue the behavior for reinforcement.

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7. Maternal Instincts: Female dogs, especially those that have recently given birth or are in heat, may exhibit maternal instincts towards young animals, including cats. Licking can be a way to care for and nurture them.

8. Boredom or Lack of Stimulation: Dogs that are bored or not getting enough mental and physical stimulation may engage in licking behaviors as a way to occupy themselves and release excess energy.

9. Playful Interaction: Dogs often use licking as a form of play. If your dog and cat have a friendly relationship, licking may be a way for them to engage in playful interactions.

10. Health Issues: Sometimes, excessive licking can be a sign of underlying health problems, such as allergies, skin irritations, or gastrointestinal issues. If your dog’s licking becomes obsessive or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult a veterinarian.

11. Learned Behavior: Dogs are observant creatures, and they learn through observation and experience. If your dog has seen other dogs or animals licking each other, they may mimic this behavior with your cat.


1. Is it normal for dogs to lick cats?
Yes, it is normal for dogs to lick cats. It can be a sign of affection, grooming, or social bonding.

2. Should I stop my dog from licking my cat?
If both animals are comfortable with the behavior and it doesn’t cause any harm, there’s no need to intervene. However, if the licking becomes excessive or one of the animals shows discomfort, it’s advisable to redirect the behavior.

3. Can my dog make my cat sick by licking?
While it’s unlikely for dogs to transmit diseases to cats through licking, it’s always a good idea to keep both animals’ vaccinations up to date and ensure regular vet check-ups.

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4. How do I discourage my dog from licking my cat?
If you want to discourage the behavior, redirect your dog’s attention to an alternative activity or provide them with interactive toys to keep them occupied.

5. Why does my cat tolerate being licked by my dog?
Cats have different tolerance levels for social interactions. Some cats may enjoy the attention and grooming, while others may tolerate it but prefer to be left alone.

6. Should I separate my dog and cat if the licking becomes excessive?
If the licking becomes excessive or causes distress to either animal, it may be necessary to separate them temporarily and seek professional advice to address the issue.

7. Can dogs get hairballs from licking cats?
No, dogs cannot get hairballs from licking cats. Hairballs are more common in cats due to their grooming habits.

8. Is licking a dominance behavior in dogs?
Licking can be a submissive behavior in dogs, indicating deference to a higher-ranking animal.

9. Can dogs lick cats to assert dominance?
While dogs may lick cats as a display of submission, it’s not necessarily a sign of asserting dominance.

10. Can I train my dog to stop licking my cat?
Yes, with consistent training and redirection, you can teach your dog to stop licking your cat on command.

11. Should I be concerned if my dog suddenly starts licking my cat excessively?
If your dog starts excessively licking your cat out of the blue, it’s advisable to monitor their behavior closely and consult a veterinarian if there are any signs of distress or health issues.

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In conclusion, dogs licking cats can have various explanations, ranging from social bonding to grooming instincts and stress relief. As long as both animals are comfortable, there is usually no cause for concern. However, if the licking becomes excessive or causes discomfort, it’s important to address the issue and seek professional advice if necessary.