Some dogs seem to lick everyone and everything. Others are more subdued and don’t seem to lick often, if at all. While this licking behavior is most often reserved for self-cleaning or for its human family, some dogs will lick other animals in a household, especially cat family members.
The smallest of these is most often the target, as larger cats often have made it known they don’t like the extra attention. Let’s take a look at the behavior in further detail.
Why does my dog lick my kitten?
Dogs use all their senses when trying to get information about something. When a new kitten comes into the household, your dog may want to find out what this creature is, especially if it’s never been around a cat before.
Dogs have scent glands inside their mouths and they can lick something and then “smell” it. This allows the dog to get a taste of the kitten to make sure it isn’t food and it gains sensory information from the scent.
Another reason your dog may lick the kitten is that the smaller animal has awakened a mothering instinct within. This is not limited to female dogs. Some male dogs also have a strong parental instinct. Licking is their way of cleaning the kitten and grooming it.
Some dogs who have strong mothering instincts will also carry the kitten around like it is a puppy. As long as your kitten doesn’t mind, there is no need to stop the behavior. As your cat grows, it will let the dog know when it is no longer tolerant of either the licking or the carrying.
A third reason the dog may lick the kitten is to show its acceptance into the pack. Your dog is giving the kitten the message that it now belongs there and will have your dog’s protection. Kittens aren’t the only animals that may be subject to this licking behavior. Some dogs have been known to lick pet rats, rabbits, and other small animals that will tolerate the behavior.
Why does my dog lick my kitten’s bum?
Dogs often greet each other by sniffing their hindquarters. This is because the scent glands located there give off a lot of information about the health, gender, and even age of the other animal. The same is true with cats. Many dogs limit their behavior to merely sniffing, but others will lick. This behavior is done for one of three reasons.
Earlier we mentioned the presence of scent glands within a dog’s mouth. Have you ever noticed a dog making a chuffing sound with his nostrils flaring slightly immediately after licking something? This is him taking in the scent and gathering information from it.
Much in the way a dog can smell changes in human physiology, it can also do so with a cat. Your dog is making sure the cat smells the same as it always does or if there is something to be concerned about.
Another reason is a lot less pleasant. Some dogs like to eat cat droppings. This is because they contain protein and other things your dog may find appetizing. By licking your cat’s bum, the dog gets a fresher taste of what he considers a treat.
Your dog could also be exhibiting its natural maternal instinct. Both dog and cat mothers need to stimulate the bowels of newborns and your dog may still believe the kitten needs this done. Your dog could also be cleaning the kitten as a mother would.
Why does my dog lick my kitten’s face?
There are several reasons a dog will lick a kitten’s face. This is his way of showing affection. He may also be trying to send the message that he is harmless. In the wild, a dog will lick the face of a dominant member of the pack to show he means no harm. Your dog could simply be trying to reassure the kitten that it is in no danger.
Dogs will also groom other members of their pack, especially those they are bonded to. Licking your kitten’s face could be your dog’s way of practicing this grooming ritual with a member of the pack he feels bonded to. The last reason is that your cat may have remnants of food on its face or whiskers and your dog is enjoying what has been left behind.
Why is my dog so obsessed with my kitten?
It is normal for a dog to be overly obsessed with any new animal coming into the home. This obsession becomes less once the novelty wears off. In some cases, however, your dog may continue to obsess over the kitten. Some of the possible reasons are harmless and others will need to be addressed. It is important to try and determine which cause pertains to your situation.
If the obsession only seems to occur when someone is paying attention to the kitten, your dog may be jealous of the kitten. By taking time to give your dog extra attention or including him in the interaction, you may be able to reduce the jealousy.
Strong Prey Drive
Many breeds of dogs have a strong prey drive. They will chase anything that runs. This doesn’t mean they will harm your kitten but it is important to try and redirect your dog and make sure your kitten has safe places to run to that the dog can’t reach. Until you know exactly how the dog will react, don’t leave the kitten alone with it.
Your dog may be trying to show the kitten that he is in charge. This can be a dangerous one. If your dog growls, keeps the kitten from its food, or in any way seems threatening, you may have to permanently keep the two separated.
This is often the case with young dogs. He has found a new toy that can play back and he wants to have fun. If the kitten doesn’t mind, then let them play. The kitten will soon find ways to let the dog know if he doesn’t want to play.
If the obsession is a new thing, your dog may sense that something is wrong with your kitten. If none of the other reasons seem to fit, a visit to the vet to have your kitten checked out may be in order.
How to get my dog to stop licking my kitten?
Often a dog licking a kitten will stop on its own. The novelty of a new pack member wears off or the kitten grows bigger and makes it clear that it doesn’t like the behavior. In some cases, the grooming will be a mutual thing between the dog and cat and is actually a sign they are bonded.
In this case, there is no need to stop the behavior. In cases of the kitten not liking the behavior or the dog getting involved in the litter activities, there are a couple of things you can do.
One of the first things you should try is distracting the dog. Whenever you see him licking the kitten, try to entice him to play, get a treat, or take a walk. All of these will appear to be more enticing to him. If the behavior is only during litter time, make sure the litter box is where your dog can’t have access to it. If it is also outside his normal territory, he won’t notice and the kitten is free to potty in peace.
Whether the licking is something the kitten enjoys or not, make sure he has access to some places that the dog can’t reach. An elevated bed or cat tree often works wonders. In most cases, there is not a problem with this behavior so take cues from your kitten as to whether or not there is actually a problem.