Your senior feline isn't very active these days so you decide to get her a pet. Almost instantly, Misty and baby Tiger bond. Misty plays with him, shows him where to eat and even licks him. Your older kitty grooms her new friend for a variety of reasons, so it's nothing to worry about.
Cats are very meticulous cleaners. Everything has to be neat and in order, especially their fur coats. Your elderly furry family member probably licks your newly adopted kitten simply to clean him up. After she finishes her own ritual morning bath, she may curl up with little Tiger and lick him, even if he has already bathed himself, just to pick up anything he may have missed. She's helping out the baby feline and showing him the ropes by removing dirt and debris from his fluffy outer shell.
Bringing a new cat into a one-cat household isn't always an easy transition. The new kitten smells funny to Misty. As soon as she feels comfortable with your new addition, she'll want to make him smell more familiar to her. Misty will lick the tiny furball to spread her scent. She's marking little Tiger so he smells like part of her family and also so he becomes more accustomed to her scent. He'll probably lick her in return, exchanging his own aroma. This exchange of scents helps kitties bond.
As your two felines continue to bond, they'll lick one another to show affection. Older Misty licks her new fuzzy family member to show him that he is safe and she adores him, much like a new mother kitty would do for her newborns. They'll most likely purr during this bathing session to signal to one another that each one is calm and at ease. This signal lets you know that your kitties are perfectly happy and have a strong relationship.
Think of all of the behaviors you have that are self-soothing: biting your nails, tapping your finger, shaking your leg. Cats have similar mannerisms. Some felines are compulsive lickers and have their tongues out all the time because it seems comforting. Misty used to sit and lick your forehead when you were trying to sleep, but now she has a new friend to lick. If she's stressed, feeling hyper or just plain bored, she may stand right next to pint-size Tiger and lick him to soothe herself.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.