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How Do Cats Clean Themselves? Grooming Explanation

Cats are ardent self-cleaners, spending between 30 and 50 percent of their day doing so. If you're a cat owner, you know that you don't need to bathe your cat frequently since they do a fantastic job of cleaning themselves.

It's natural to ask how these creatures maintain their cleanliness. "How Do Cats Clean Themselves? Grooming Explanation" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) examines how cats clean themselves, why they do it, and under what circumstances their grooming may be reason for worry.

Why Do Cats Groom Themselves?

Their mother grooms the kittens. The mother cat licks and cleans her kittens after birth and teaches them how to clean themselves. When kittens are old enough to leave their mother, they are able to groom themselves.

This licking activity has purposes beyond keeping the cat clean. By licking their hair, humans stimulate their sebaceous glands to generate sebum, an oil. In addition, they apply sebum to their coats to maintain them healthy and glossy. Their coats are kept sleek, tangle-free, and velvety via grooming.

Additionally, grooming helps maintain a cat’s body temperature. As the saliva on the coat dries, it cools off cats that are feeling too warm.

How Do Cats Keep Themselves Clean?

Self-cleaning is performed by cats with their tongues, claws, and paws. Cats can deposit a considerable amount of saliva on their coats via their papillae, despite the fact that humans would never be able to lick that much hair for so long.

Papillae give the feline tongue a sandy texture. They are small, backward-curving, keratin-based spines. These hollow spines allow the cat to retain additional saliva for grooming purposes. The papillae operate as scoops to remove loose hair, debris, and dander from the coat.

Cats often begin grooming with the face, but each cat has its own preferences, thus the sequence might vary between individuals.

The front paw is initially licked to deposit saliva. The saliva is then massaged in a circular, upward motion on the face. Before moving on to the remainder of the face, the cat cleans the nose by depositing saliva on one paw to reach behind the ear and across the eye on one side of the face. The cat then cleans the opposite side of the face in a similar fashion.

After cleaning its head and face, the cat continues on. The cat grooms the front legs with as much of the chest region as it can reach. The cat then grooms the shoulders and stomach before moving on to the flanks and genitalia. The tail and rear legs are washed last.

It is a complete bathroom. Sometimes this sequence is adhered to, but other times the cat performs a brief grooming session in which the order of the body parts cleaned varies. If your cat does not believe a thorough wash is required, you may skip some procedures.

Cats, like most other animals, are exceptionally adept at cleaning themselves. They will groom themselves for innumerable hours. You may assist them by combing their hair, so they no longer have to spend their days licking their stray fur.

When Does Grooming Become a Problem?

Grooming is a natural action, therefore if your cat suddenly stops grooming, there’s a reason for it. A sick cat may not be in the mood for grooming. If your cat is overweight or suffers from arthritis, it may not be able to reach all the necessary areas for a thorough grooming. Contact your veterinarian if you do not know the cause of your cat’s lack of grooming. If your cat is ill, you may want to use grooming wipes to keep them clean until they are able to brush themselves again.

Overgrooming occurs when a cat brushes itself excessively for reasons other than cleanliness, such as stress. The act of licking, biting, chewing, or sucking the coat can result in bald areas and inflamed skin. In severe circumstances, open sores on the skin may result in infections.

When there is no medical basis for excessive grooming, a diagnosis of anxiety or stress is made. In such situations, it is advisable to determine the cause of the stress and work to alleviate it. In rare instances, your cat may require assistance with stress management through the use of drugs, vitamins, and pheromones.

Final Thoughts

How Do Cats Clean Themselves? Grooming Explanation” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has made it clear that cats are meticulous groomers and adore cleanliness. This is natural behavior and is not reason for alarm unless you observe your cat leaving bald areas and sores on their bodies.

This behavior indicates disease or stress. If you see that your cat is grooming itself to the point of injury, call your veterinarian for assistance in managing the condition.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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