Many cats spend up to half of their waking hours grooming themselves. But why?
From Then to Now
A mother will lick her kittens very shortly after giving birth. This is to stimulate her kittens but also to clean and comfort them. Kittens will be groomed by their mother the first 3-6 weeks of their lives but will slowly start to do it on their own. Although momma cat may still continue to occasionally help out. As you can see, grooming is imprinted into a kitten’s mind pretty quickly as something of importance!
Keeping it Fresh
Not only does daily licking keep your kitty looking fresh, it also has important health benefits. Daily grooming is key for healthy skin because it stimulates the production of sebum (an oily secretion produced by sebaceous glands at the base of each hair) and removes dander and loose hairs from the coat. This also causes your furry friend’s hair to have a presentable, beautiful glow!
Just look at Captain Miller keeping his fur fresh! Have I mentioned how adorable a grooming cat can appear?
Ever notice how after returning from an outdoor adventure, a trip to the vet, or an extended duration of pets from you that your kitty will begin a grooming fest? You are not alone if you have observed this! Many cats will groom themselves after such activities solely for the purpose of maintaining his or her scent. Many believe this behavior comes from their instincts in the wild to distinguish themselves among their cat colony.
“Hey, Mom! I am mid-groom here!”-Gandalf
Unlike us hoomans, cats don’t sweat all over. In fact, they only sweat through their paw pads. Cleaning their little paws with their determined tongue allows kitties to cool down their overall body temperature. Think about how much you can control your own temperature by just taking off or putting on a pair of warm socks!
Ever see one of your cats walk up to the other and begin licking his head? I know it happens in my house often. Mutual grooming may take place among 2 or more kitties. Typically mutual grooming is out of love and respect, not necessarily for a hygiene benefit. However, cats may recognize the need to help their friends reach a hard-to-get spot and respond with mutual grooming.
Although your kitty could start their own licking business, don’t forget the importance of brushing and petting your feline friends. Many pet parents have found masses on their kitties’ skin while performing routine grooming or during regular snuggle sessions. These pesky lumps could be serious or not but the sooner a vet takes a look, the better! Additionally, a kitty who once groomed himself well and no longer is taking pride in keeping clean and tidy could be a cause for concern. This may be a sign of illness in any age and/or arthritis in older aged kitties. Be sure to see a vet as soon as you can!
As you have learned, grooming is a large part of your kitties’ lives! And your life too if you share your home with a groomin’ feline!