Why Do Cats Groom Themselves? (Not That We Are Complaining)
14 November, 2011
Anyone who owns a cat knows they spend hours grooming themselves throughout the day. It may be for a few minutes after eating, before taking a nap, or after they’ve finished playing with their favorite toy. How and why cats groom impacts their physical, emotional, and social health. As kittens, they learn to lick themselves and will copy their mother’s grooming habits.
By the time a kitten is weaned, they will know how to wash themselves and start spending more time keeping their fur free of dirt, debris, and tangles. Each cat’s regimen may vary but more often than not, a good ‘grooming’ will happen after a meal, before a nap, and after using the litter box.
WHY DO CATS GROOM ?
Cats usually groom themselves to remain clean. Their tongue is used like a comb and removes old fur, loose fur, and dirt. Cats are naturally clean animals and this helps maintain a healthy coat and is sign of health. It’s estimated that a cat will spend about one fifth of their day grooming themselves. They won’t always do a complete bathe in one sitting. You may catch your cat licking its paws and then taking a nap and later cleaning its tail. (You’ve gotta love this!)
Cats don’t sweat so grooming themselves is a way to cool themselves down in warm weather and it keeps the fur closer to their skin to retain heat in cold weather. When a cat licks and tugs at its fur, it stimulates the follicles to release oils that can also help waterproof your cat. So if your cat is an outdoor cat, grooming helps create a “raincoat” and keep their skin dry even if their outer coat gets wet. And, an indoor cat is usually clean as a whistle!
I love staying clean!!
TYPES OF GROOMING
If you have a house with two or more cats, they may groom each other from time to time. It’s a way to express friendship and community among cats. It is a social activity more so than a hygienic one. Mutually grooming usually expresses comfort, companionship, and even love among cats. Your cat may even groom you, but don’t worry, it’s not for cleaning purposes! If your cat licks your arm, leg, or head, it’s a sign of affection and trust.
This type of grooming helps a cat feel better emotionally. If your cat was just frightened or feels tense, grooming is a calming mechanism. Emotional or displacement grooming helps them deal with stress.
If your cat stops grooming, this could be a sign of a health issue and it might be time to take your cat to the vet. In contrast, if your cat is excessively grooming and pulling out his or her fur, this can be a sign of stress and create inflamed spots.
We love our feline friends and how they keep themselves clean, a definite advantage in owning a cat. Create a profile today!