Why Does My Cat Lick My Dog? Should You Worry?

a cat licking the ear of a small super cute puppy

If you own a dog and a cat, you’ve probably seen them snuggling up on the couch or even grooming each other. Cats licking dogs isn’t new, but you might wonder if it’s safe. Furthermore, you might be curious why they do this in the first place.

Your cat may lick your dog as a sign of affection, to assert its authority, or to provide comfort. The good news is that it is generally regarded as safe and helps strengthen the bond and attachment of your furry children.

In this article, we will explain in further detail why cats lick dogs, if this type of interaction is safe, and why it is pretty normal for most feline-canine friendships. So stick around, as you’ll find that you have nothing to worry about.

The Cat Is Showing Affection

Cute cat sleeping and laying on top of a sleeping dog

Cats are naturally affectionate, and they like to lick things as a way of communicating that affection. They usually lick their owner’s hands and arms when they want to show their love.

If your cat is licking your dog, it’s probably because it also wants to show the dog how much it cares about them. Dogs are usually quite expressive as well, so it’s easy for them to understand what the cat is trying to say when it licks their face.

Other Ways Your Cat Shows Affection

If you’ve ever had a cat, then you know that they’re capable of showing affection in ways beyond licking. Here are some of the most common ways cats show their affection:

  • Kneading: Cats show their affection in the most adorable way possible by kneading. This behavior is called “making biscuits,” which means that your cat is happy and content. If you see your cat doing this, it means you’re doing something right.
  • Showing their butt: Cats are sometimes known to show their butt as a sign of affection. This behavior can also be referred to as “presenting.” It’s also their way of greeting you.
  • Bringing you “gifts:” Cats often bring home dead animals to show affection for their owners. While this sounds like something straight out of a Halloween horror movie, it actually means that your cat thinks very highly of you and wants to show it by bringing home something from the outdoors.

Your Cat Likes Your Dog and Considers It As Family

Cat rubbing against a larger dog showing affection

Cats have strong bonds with their owners, so if they consider you part of their family, then it’s likely that they will also feel comfortable around your dog or any other pets you may have in the house.

If your cat has been around dogs for most of its life, it may also consider them part of the family. So if she starts licking your pet pooch, don’t worry, as it’s probably because it sees the dog as another family member.

Other Ways To Know Your Cat Likes Your Dog

You might be curious as to whether or not your cat genuinely likes your dog and thinks of them as family members. The following is a list of other reasons aside from licking and some subtle signals that your pets are good friends.

  • Your pets sleep and cuddle. If they do things together, like sleeping, then it means they get along well.
  • Your pets play together. They enjoy each other’s company when they play. But it’s important to know how animals communicate with their bodies because sometimes what looks like “playing” is not what it actually is.
  • Your pets know how to comfort each other. When going to the vet or one of them is sick, they rely on each other for comfort.

Your Cat Is Asserting Dominance and Authority

It is important to remember that cats are naturally territorial and frequently mark their territory with the scent of their saliva or urine. 

All cats have glands that make the scents they use for marking.

If your cat feels threatened by your dog or feels like the dog is trying to take over its territory, licking may be a way for the cat to assert dominance over its canine companion and let everyone know who’s boss around here.

It’s a Way of Comforting Your Dog

Licking other animals is a way for cats to show affection and comfort them. They are extremely sensitive to the feelings of other animals. They will lick them to comfort them and reassure them that everything will be alright, especially if you’ve had visitors over who have made your dog anxious or agitated, such as new people, children, or other animals.

Your cat will also lick your dog if it is injured or ill. 

The next time you take your dog to the veterinarian, bring your cat with you so that your dog can get some comfort from its feline companion.

The Dog Needs Grooming

Cats are naturally attracted to animals with thick furry coats. They like to groom them by licking their fur and cleaning up any loose strands of hair so that nothing gets caught in their own coat while they move around during playtime together. 

If your dog has gotten into something sticky or stinky, he might also need some serious grooming. Cats are specialists when it comes to hygiene, so they will know precisely what to do to make him smell better as quickly as possible.

If you want your cat to stop feeling the urge to groom your dog, consider purchasing this GOOAD Dog Grooming Kit from Amazon.com. This comprehensive package for grooming pets comes with 15 different tools. 

Your cat may give up licking your dog if it sees that it is always well-groomed.

Motherly Instincts

If you’ve ever seen your cat clean her babies, you know what I am talking about. Cats are natural nurturers and often take on the role of mother to other animals in their household, including your dog. 

If she’s giving the dog some extra love, she just might be doing it because she thinks the dog needs it, and because it smells like her baby. The smell of nursing puppies can trigger a maternal response from cats.

Cats Licking Dogs Is Generally Safe

Cats licking dogs are generally considered safe. They are naturally immune to most dog diseases, so the risk of a cat catching something from a dog is low.

However, there are some exceptions:

  • If your cat has a weakened immune system or an underlying illness, it may not be safe for your cat to lick your dog. For example, if you have an older cat with kidney disease, and you bring home a puppy who has been exposed to parvovirus, that can be very dangerous for your older cat. 
  • Some medications can also make it unsafe for cats to lick dogs, such as those used to treat heartworm or flea infestations. Let your pets wear a recovery collar like this TIALOVE Soft Pet Recovery Collar for Dogs & Cats from Amazon.com. If you have any questions about whether it is safe for your pets to interact while on medication, kindly check with a veterinarian.


I hope this article has provided you with some much-needed relief and given you a better understanding of why your cat licks your dog. As long as licking doesn’t result in any wounds or rashes and does not become obsessive in nature, then it’s perfectly normal for both species. 

Now that your concerns have been addressed, you are free to carry on filming videos of them showing their love for each other!

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