It’s never a surprise to see your cat grooming itself. Many people feel that cats are the cleanest animals because they are constantly grooming themselves. But have you ever wondered why cats groom and lick themselves so much? If so, we have the answers.
Cats groom themselves for many reasons, and it’s not just an act to keep clean. Read on to learn the reasons for this behavior so that the next time you see your cat grooming itself, you can guess why!
The 4 Likely Reasons Why Cats Groom and Lick Themselves So Much
1. It Starts From the Beginning
Kittens come into this world being groomed by the mother cat. The mother cat licks her newborn kittens right after birth to clean them. She also licks the hind end to promote urination and defecation, provide comfort, and to create an immediate bond.
Kittens start grooming themselves at 4 weeks old; they also groom their littermates and mother soon thereafter, and this is referred to as allogrooming. Self-grooming and allogrooming continue on into adulthood.
2. To Regulate Body Temperature
Cats may regulate their body temperature by grooming themselves. Grooming themselves in hot weather is especially helpful because the saliva spreads across the coat and then evaporates, cooling off the cat.
If it’s hot outside or even hot inside your home, odds are you’ll spot your cat grooming away to cool off, and your cat may do this for a while until it feels its body temperature is at a more suitable level.
Grooming also helps and supports good circulation, as well as distributing natural oils through the fur that seals in heat.
3. To Keep Clean
Cats are clean animals, and they love to be clean. Scientists state that cats have tiny cones on their tongue that allows deep cleaning of their fur. Have you ever noticed how rough and sandpaper-like a cat’s tongue is? What you’re feeling is all those tiny cones, also referred to as papillae. These papillae allow the saliva to penetrate deep into the fur and onto the skin for a full-on cleansing.
When cats groom themselves, they keep their coat in tip-top shape by stimulating and producing an oily secretion called sebum. Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands located at the base of each hair, and when your cat licks, it distributes this secretion that aids in keeping the fur healthy and shiny.
4. To Keep Predators at Bay
After your cat eats, you’ll notice your cat grooming itself, but why? Cats do this to remove any scent from its body after consuming a meal. In the wild, they do this to remove the scent of their prey, which, if left unattended, prey can sniff them out and attack.
A cat grooming itself after eating is a survival instinct that carries over to domestic cats too. Cats also clean themselves after eating to return to their normal smell to allow their family or colony to recognize them.
Can a Cat Groom Itself Excessively?
If your cat is excessively grooming itself, it could be that your cat has some sort of allergy, skin infection, parasites, or even fleas. Overgrooming could also be a sign your cat is in pain. Overgrooming can also lead to hairballs. Most times, the hair will exit through the stool, but sometimes, it can accumulate in the stomach, which is when cats vomit up hairballs, complete with bile and saliva.
Cats are masters of hiding pain, and if your cat grooms excessively, a trip to the vet is warranted. Stress or boredom can also be a reason your cat grooms itself.
How to Stop Your Cat From Overgooming
If you feel your cat is overgrooming, there are ways to stop it. Try creating a stress-free environment for your cat and ensure you’re not feeding a cat food that may cause a food allergy. Introduce more interactive toys or scratching posts to keep your kitty occupied, and most of all, have your veterinarian do an examination to determine the cause. Also ensure your cat is on a flea preventative if there is any chance of flea exposure, as this is one of the most common reasons for feline overgrooming!
It’s a fact that cats love to groom themselves, and now you know some of the reasons why they do it. Grooming may seem like your cat is just cleaning itself, but there could be other reasons why your cat is licking away at its coat and paws.
Most of the time, it’s just what cats do; however, take your cat to the vet if you suspect your cat is overgrooming to rule out any medical issues and ensure you provide plenty of interactive toys that offer mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay.
Featured Image Credit: Rapeepan Chamnong, Shutterstock