Evidence that cats see us as cats!

Cat allogrooms baby

Cat allogrooms baby

I have always said the obvious, that cats see us as giant cats. All the signs are there: kneading us for milk, licking us, then we stroking them back, scent exchanging and so on.

John Bradshaw who wrote Cat Senses agrees with me (I am pleased to say). This little, cute video supports that view:

In the video the cat is allogrooming another cat in her/his mind. Allogrooming means grooming a cat friend. What makes it more like a cat-to-cat encounter and friendship is the baby-to-cat size ratio. The baby is not vastly larger than the cat so it looks more like a cat grooming a cat.

What is interesting is that the baby gets up from time to time to stop it. Why is that? My answer is that a cat’s tongue is quite harsh. The keratin papillae are hard and the cat licks in the same place over and over. As the baby has thin “fur” (hair) the cat is licking the skin rather than what should be fur. The baby feels that and it becomes uncomfortable so she gets up.

I think the baby likes it, though, as she readily lies down again for more. What the baby could have done with her mother’s encouragement was to stroke the cat in return to make it a session of mutual allogrooming. This would have further bonded the two species (human+cat).

Cats are good for babies. They teach baby to respect animals provided mother instils that in her baby and it can help with developing a better immune system and prevent allergies in the future when adult. It also desensitises baby to the cat allergen.

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Evidence that cats see us as cats! — 32 Comments

    • I love licking 😉 Sloppy kisses you mean, don’t you! Seriously, that sounds fine. Where do cats lick other cats the most? Which part of the body? And why?

  1. Marvin is the kneader of all kneaders. I have to keep an extra garment or towel handy so I don’t have to stop him. His claws are monstrously long. I wouldn’t dream of trimming them. He needs them for battle. Both out in the real world, and battling his rug! I have a video of that somewhere. He is not much of a licker. Though he can head butt you into tomorrow.

  2. Michael- I LOVED this piece. It is so true. Sir Hubble Pinkerton LOVES to groom my hair.. he must think that he is solely responsible for the hygiene of my tresses.. (wish I had tresses). But seriously, it feels so good and so relaxing, actually. When he is grooming my hair I am often lulled off to dreamland.

    And he purrs and purrs and kneads my scalp. I love it..

    I think I have to agree with you that our kitties must view us as very large “two-legged” felines.

    • I’ve promised Michael a new article on cat lickers. I hope to have it by Monday. I even have videos of my cats grooming each other.

  3. Yuppers, we’re cats. I might be lowest in the order, but I get plenty of grooming and kneading. If I purse my lips and make kissy sounds, I get mouth after mouth to kiss. If I stick out my tongue, I get ears to my mouth.
    I loved the video.

  4. Firstly how lovely to see that the baby’s mother is happy to let baby and cat snuggle up together, that little girl is a cat lady in the making. I loved watching the cat licking the baby’s head, but every time she lifted her head and looked at the cat I was waiting for her right arm to rise up and whack the cat one, I was relieved when it ended. The tongue must have felt rough on her head, I think she liked it mostly but maybe after a while it rasped a bit much. I love it when one of the boys gives me a lick with his tongue, and when they’ve been washing and they suddenly look up at you with their tongue still out.

  5. Shrimp firmly holds my forearm down while he grooms the back of my hand. If it hurts a little too much and I try to move, he “slaps” my forearm, pressing down even more firmly. (I love it.) 😉

  6. Maybe the cat who is dominant does the grooming and never the other way around. Monty will lick my hand when I am petting or playing with him. My husband says Monty seldom licks him. Monty perceives Jeff as dominant, next Monty, then me. I come last in the hierarchy. Monty licks me the most and Jeff seldom, so it could have something to do with dominance.

    • I agree the desire of one cat to lick another may be linked to dominance and submissiveness. In my comment above I suggested it could be the other way around – a submissive cat wanting to please a dominant cat.

      Monty might not perceive Jeff as dominant. You probably get more licks than Jeff because (as I understand it – if I am wrong, sorry) you engage more with Monty and are more connected and so are closer friends. It is between cat friends that allogrooming takes place.

      • My Mandy is the licker in the family. She even washes our dog Cujo. Sealy does lick her her head every now and then. And our youngest Jubi and Oozy never have to lick themselves. All of the cats keep them groomed. Then again we have an unusual family here.

          • It’s always been that way with the cats that come in as kittens. Maybe they taste better? Giggles…I’ll have you an article on this over the weekend. Guaranteed to have everyone laughing.

            Here’s a “taste” of whats to come!

      • It could be that Monty perceives me as a closer friend. I’m home alone with him all day quite frequently. But Monty does perceive Jeff as dominant. Jeff can tell him to “drop the mouse and get in your house” and Monty does it.

  7. Love this story. Somewhere here at POC there is a video of my Yellowcat grooming Shadow the same way. I watch her do this almost daily. I only wonder why the gesture isn’t reciprocated? Any ideas?

        • I hope you feel better soon, Elisa. This winter has been a terrible one for nasty viruses. I thought all this sub zero weather was supposed to kill them off. That is the conventional wisdom around here– we need a really cold winter to kill off the germs. But when it’s really cold we’re all stuck inside together and the germs love that. Even Monty’s been sneezing, but I think it’s dust. My house is a disaster, but then as I start to dig in and clean it up it initially raises more dust. His eyes are clear, no snotsnboogers, so it must just be dust. I love your term snotsnboogers, by the way.

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