Grooming one another is completely natural behavior for cats, and it even has a name: allogrooming. Cats keep each other’s coat clean as an altruistic deed and make it a relaxing activity to bond over. Often, the allogrooming, however, comes to an abrupt halt when one cat sinks their teeth into the other one’s fur. So, where does this aggression suddenly come from?
Biting vs fighting
Cats have many ways of communicating, biting being one of them. Contrary to what you probably believe, one cat biting another does not necessarily signal aggression. While grooming, it can for example mean “hold still” or “stop it, I’m done”. You probably have experienced this typical cat behavior first-hand when petting your feline friend. One minute they are enjoying the affection, purring loudly, and the next they suddenly bite your hand for no reason. Sounds familiar?
When a cat feels it’s being pet or groomed for too long, they gradually become overstimulated. All the energy that has been built up needs to go somewhere, so after one cat bites the other, a fight often ensues. Since cats only groom people and fellow cats they like, it will rarely be a real fight. Instead, your cats will engage in a so-called ‘play fight’ to burn off excess energy.
Should I worry?
Play fighting can look scary – both cats will bite and bunny kick, perhaps even letting out a few cries. If you know your felines well, you will immediately notice that these are not cries of pain, but rather sounds your cat produces to let their furry buddy know they are annoyed. There is no need to break up a play fight, as your cats need a way to get rid of pent-up energy anyway. Only when growling or loud crying ensues, you should probably separate the two.