7 Facts About Why Cats Groom Themselves

by May 17, 2022Training

Self grooming is a natural characteristic in cat’s. You might notice your cat licking it’s body, chewing it’s paws, infact you might notice them do it to other cats as well. It often concerns new pet owners to see cats doing these things. It might seem unhygienic or unsafe but it is completely natural. Cats learn to self groom right after their birth. It starts with the mother cat licking her kittens and as the kittens grow a bit they start licking themselves.

Top 7 Facts About Why Cat Groom Themselves

After the age of 4 weeks kittens start to lick their mother and littermates too. The habit of grooming continues all their life. Although it is normal in cats, humans don’t seem to take it easy. Especially new cat parents think it might harm their little feline friend. However, stopping them from doing these things can be harmful. On the other hand, excessive grooming can be a sign to take them to a vet.

Overgrooming and under-grooming both can be harmful to your cat. Due to several concerns from cat parents, we came up with a well-researched analysis of facts about cat’s self-grooming habits. There are multiple reasons behind cats’ self-grooming other than just keeping themselves clean. Understanding these simple facts regarding your cat’s characteristics or habits can help you in several ways such as if your cat isn’t licking its body much, it’s called under grooming. Under grooming is a red flag for your cat’s overall health, it might cause loss of fur, fragile health, and many more issues. Whereas over-grooming can be a sign of stress which can affect their health and behavior.

Why Cat Groom Themselves

When Cats Lick Themselves, Do They Really Get Clean?

If you see your cat licking or biting or nibbling itself several times a day, it’s perfectly alright because cats groom themselves almost 30-50% of the day. It is often said that cats clean themselves by licking, which may not sound much convincing to cat parents. So, here is what we would like to inform you about this topic –

– Licking their body effectively cleans their body. Although it might not seem to be the same to humans it’s easier for cats to keep their bodies clean. Moreover, licking is a hygienic mode of cleaning themselves. Cat tongues are not the same as humans, the texture of cat tongues is similar to sandpaper which keeps their coat moisturized. Their teeth handle persistent dirt on their body while the paws function as loofah.

– Every one of us who is blessed to have a precious feline friend in our family has learned that cats keep licking themselves for most of the day. However, excessive licking can cause trouble. It might cause them intense itching, loss of fur, etc. More of it, cats do lick their coat to keep themselves clean but sometimes they might overdo it due to stress. It’s vital to observe your cat’s grooming habits to keep them healthy.

– Cats do not require or like human intervention for the cleaning process as they are self groomers. the combination of their teeth, tongue, and paws is enough to clean their body which means licking really does clean a cat’s body. However, you should give them a nice bath sometimes. Especially, if your cat likes to play outside, it’s good to give them a bath. 

What Causes Cats To Lick Themselves?

Cats are self-grooming animals, licking is the first and the most effective way for them to keep themselves clean. It’s not only effective but hygienic and convenient for them as well. The mother cat starts to lick its kittens right after giving birth. At the age of 4 weeks, Kittens start grooming themselves and within a few more weeks they start licking their mother and littermates, which is called mutual grooming. These grooming patterns continue to their adulthood and the rest of their life.

Although the first and major purpose of licking themselves is to keep their body clean, there are a few more reasons why cats are self groomed or mutual groom. Here are the reasons why cats lick.

1) Skin And Coat Health:

Cleaning body is easier for cats than us. All it takes is their teeth, tongue and paw to stay clean and hygienic. To describe the process, cat teeth are persistent to dirt and their tongues have a sand paper like texture as mentioned earlier in this article. They lick their body to keep their coat and skin free of dirt, moisten it and keep it healthy. Right grooming resists fur loss, open sores and other issues. They also keep parasites like fleas out of their body by licking their coat. Licking helps them keep their coat and skin lubricated and healthy. They also lick on their injuries to get rid of dirt and excessive blood from the injured area. However, licking wounded area excessively can lead to infection.

2) Friendship:

The licking process starts in a cat’s life with its mother licking it after birth. As cats grow up they start grooming their mothers and littermates as a sign of friendship or trust. They lick their loved ones to show their affection towards them. Sometimes they might lick you to show their affection and bond with you. 

3) Relaxation:

Cats love pleasure. They enjoy being relaxed. Self-grooming feels good. It will be better to say that one of the many reasons cats lick themselves is because they enjoy doing it. Not only on themselves but also to their friends, as licking is a sign of a cat’s affection towards other cats or a human, they feel relaxed while grooming those they bond with. Grooming shares a positive sensation with cats. 

4) Cooling Down:

If you observe cats closely you will see they groom themselves in summer more than other seasons. It’s because licking their body helps them to cool down. They cover their entire coat with saliva and as the saliva evaporates it releases heat from their body which provides cooling effect. Since cat’s don’t sweat from all of their skin and only paws, it’s not enough for them to cool down. That is why they use their saliva to evaporate and release heat.

Is Cat Saliva Clean?

Why Do Cats Lick Their Paws After Eating?

Licking paws after eating may seem to be a similar habit to humans cleaning their hands after eating. However, the case is not that. If you don’t know it already, one of the reasons why cats clean themselves is to keep predators away. Licking helps them get rid of smells. Cats lick their paws after eating to get rid of the scent of food from their body so that predators can not track them. You can say that it is a survival strategy for cats. Indoor cats especially use this tactic to keep themselves and their kittens safe.

Why Do Cats Lick Their Faces After Eating?

Cats like to maintain their general hygiene. The constant habit to keep themselves clean is a reason why they lick their face after eating. However, hygiene is not the only reason they do it. They lick their face after eating to remove the scent of food that predators may use to track them and attack them.

Why Do Cats Lick Their Mouth After Eating?

The first and the basic logical answer to this question would be to keep themselves clean. By this line of the article, it has been clear to all of us that cats are born hygienic animals. They care about their hygiene a lot and grooming is not just a regular habit but a characteristic of felines. It is true that they lick their mouth after eating to maintain hygiene but there are a few more reasons why your cat may be licking its mouth. The possible reasons for a cat to lick their mouth can be :

  • They want to keep themselves clean.
  • They are removing the scent of food from their body. Preys often track cats using the smell which is another reason cats keep cleaning themselves. Especially if you see mother cats they clean themselves after nursing their kittens to ensure prays can’t track them or their kittens. When it comes to food prey can scent the smell and come after the cat so they clean their mouth and get rid of the smell. It is a survival tactic for cats.
  • There may be some injuries in their mouth.

Do Cat Needs Bathe?

Now, this is a tricky question. Most of the cats we might meet in our life will hate bathing. Cats don’t really enjoy being in the water. Some cat parents might think their cats need bathing to be clean as it’s normal for humans to think water is the best way to clean anyone. However, it’s not the same with animals. Especially when we talk about cat hygiene. Cats’ self-grooming habits make it easy for them to clean themselves without the use of any outer source. 

Everything that your cat needs to keep itself clean is within it. They clean themselves with their tongue. Cats don’t really need to bathe to be clean. However, once in a month or in particular circumstances you might have to give your feline friend a nice bath.

Final Verdict On Why Cat Groom Themselves

Cats are very cautious about their self-hygiene. They don’t like much human intervention in their personal space. As we all know that cats have different personalities and most of them like to be alone most of the time. One thing that you’ll find common in cats is their self-grooming habit. It’s a characteristic they have within. They use their saliva, tongue, and teeth to keep themselves clean, relaxed, and happy.

However, as an owner, it will be helpful to monitor your cat’s licking habit to ensure you don’t need to take them to a vet. You can bath them in extreme circumstances, otherwise, they will be fine with themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are multiple reasons why you might see your cat licking it’s lips frequently. The basic reason is their general characteristic of cleaning their lips. Another reason could be them licking their lips is that they are getting rid of the smell of food so that no prey can track them down with that smell. Apart from these two, another reason could be that they have some oral injuries, or pain that might causing pain.

If you have a indoor cat who never really goes out, it will probably never need a bath. But for outdoor cats you might need to give it one.

No. Never use human or dog shampoo on cats as it might be toxic to them.

It’s an effective way to brush kittens before bathing to ensure there are no tangles.

Well. The only way you can help yourself from scratches is by wearing full sleeves and gloves.