I would suspect that the other cats know that Sully's ear/face is dirty by the smell. Since cats groom themselves to wipe away any scent that a predator might smell I imagine that cooperative grooming evolved because if a predator smells one, they are all at risk.
But it's really cute the way they take care of each other. With all of her fur, Holly has a tough time keeping herself clean and Kobi is always helping her out.
On comforting humans....many years ago, I was having gall bladder problems. I went from no symptoms to having something like 6 attacks in the 2 weeks it took them to figure out what was going on and get it out of me. The attacks would come on in the middle of the night and the only way I could even remotely get comfortable was to sit in the recliner in the LR. Onyx was not a lap cat by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was having those attacks, she would lay in my lap for hours just purring away. It was just the sweetest thing.
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Holly, Misty & their friend, Jake, the dog.
Onyx, Callie May, Maggie & Kobi forever in my heart.
Yes, I know I need a new signature pic...someday...