Why Do Cats Groom Themselves (All Day Long!)?
11 March, 2016
Anyone who owns a cat knows they spend hours grooming themselves throughout the day (not that we’re complaining!) It may right after eating, before taking a nap, or after they’ve finished playing. Cats spend a fifth of their day grooming themselves! How and why cats groom impacts their physical, emotional, and social health.
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. Cats don’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.
Cats don’t sweat so grooming themselves is a way to cool themselves down in warm weather and 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. Grooming helps an outdoor cat create a “raincoat” and keep their skin dry even. And, an indoor cat is usually clean as a whistle!
If you have two or more cats, they may groom each other from time to time. It’s a way to express friendship and more of a social activity 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! 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, take your cat to the vet
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. On the other hand, if your cat is excessively grooming and pulling out his or her fur, this can be a sign of stress and create inflamed spots.