I have used the word “allogrooming” a lot. I discovered the word many years ago in writing articles for this website. You would not normally use it because it’s rather an unusual word. As you probably know it describes the grooming of one cat by another. And sometimes domestic cat groom each other simultaneously or one immediately after the other. This is allogrooming. It is the cousin of the word ‘autogrooming’ which means to groom oneself.
Allogrooming most often describes the vigorous licking and cleaning of kittens by their mother. And when siblings or unrelated cats grow up together and are familiar and friendly with each other they may well engage in allogrooming because it is a friendly process. And therefore, it helps to cement the friendship. There is also, of course, a functionality to the process; it helps to clean the other cat.
And importantly, in allogrooming the cat delivering the licking can approach those areas of the receiving cat that they can’t reach themselves. This is normally at the back of the neck. Or on top of the head and as seen in the photo: the side of the face. You often see allogrooming cats grooming the other cat’s head. This is certainly a part of the anatomy that cannot be reached. Although cats autogroom the side of their mouths and the area around their eyes by depositing saliva on the inside of their forelegs below the hock and washing themselves with their leg.
The origin or etymology of the word is as shown in the diagram above. Both originating words are English words. The first is ‘allotropy’ which means “a property, exhibited by some elements of existing in multiple forms with different atomic structures”. That doesn’t seem to have any connection to cats grooming other cats ?. However, it appears to me that the phrase “multiple forms” is the one to latch onto because when two cats groom each other there are multiple cats i.e. two.
The word has been shortened and it is the first four letters of the word which have been attached to the word “grooming” to form “allogrooming”.
We all know what grooming means because humans do it or should do it regularly. In case you don’t (❓?) it means to care for one’s personal appearance, hygiene and clothing!
This is the etymology of the word ‘allogrooming’. For the sake of completeness, “etymology” means the history of a word shown by tracing its origin and going back as far as you can. Many English words have origins in foreign languages. That is why, in the chart, the chart maker has included ‘eng”.
Here is a video of allogrooming.
Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.
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