Originally Posted by twofatcats
I haven't read this from any vet or anything, but from the appearance of it, it seems to me that licking one another among unrelated adult cats may be related to dominance behavior. I took in both Purdy and Red Cat as adults, about two years apart. After they got over the first several months of active fighting and it was settled that Red Cat was dominant, RC would often lick Purdy's head. One could see that Purdy did NOT like this. He assumed the ears back defensive pose. This still continues occasionally, about five years later. Purdy NEVER licks Red Cat's head.
WOW, this makes total sense!! When Geisha tries to groom Kuri, there are times when he'll sit there and let her, but other times when he resists and moves his head away. When we first got Kuri, he was SO little but he never backed down from Geisha, so I guess they both wanted to be the dominant kitty! And sometimes even now, when they are tumbling around with each other, after they finish their scuffle, they will sit up but neither will leave the scene. Kuri will try to bite her feet, and Geisha will bat him on the head or push his head down with her paw. It looks like she's trying to put him in his place.
Geisha used to get groomed a lot by Sumo, and she never resisted. Maybe that's why they were close and they even slept next to each other and had a more peaceful relationship. But later on, I'm not sure at what point this happened, but Geisha got bigger in size than Sumo (even though she was 3 months younger), and she would groom HIM. And he didn't always seem to like it. He also got sick and then she would always be grooming him.
Now a lot of things are coming to light.... Someone told me that grooming each other was a sign that they had welcomed another kitty "into the fold," but I always wondered why only one of them did it and they didn't do it to each other. All of my kitties have been from different litters, so this makes so much more sense. This is so interesting and I think that you have found the answer I needed, TFC!
Oh, and also, I met someone today who said her mama cat always grooms the daughter, but not vice versa. That ALSO makes sense now!! The mom kitty is the dominant one, after all.
Now, do you know why cats who live together always sniff each other's behinds? My Geisha recently sniffed Kuri's bottom after he got back from the vet. He DID have to get a temperature check, but they sniff each other at other times, as well (when they've been home all day).