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Why is Grooming so Important to Cats?

Grooming: If an animal can do it, it does it.

Cats take it to the next level, grooming is like their heartbeat. Cats will spend around 30% - 50% of their waking moments grooming.


None of us like feeling dirty, but they’ve taken it to an OCD level. Inventor Cat is going to find out what it is about licking yourself that’s so good.


Cats are introduced to self-grooming immediately after birth. The mother licks their kittens to remove the amniotic sac. Licking with their rough tongue helps stimulate their kitten's breathing…I mean we’ve all heard of the kiss of life.


From then on the mother would lick her kittens in order to provoke urination and suckling, on top of keeping them clean. Grooming also provides the kittens with the feeling of comfort and it increases the bond between them – I mean if someone starts licking me they’ve reach a pretty high level of intimacy.


By the time they’ve reached four weeks they are already capable of grooming themselves, they have learnt to do this through copycat behaviour. Not only that but shortly after, they will also participate in allogrooming which is the grooming of themselves and others. Lucky for us this continues onto adulthood.


So cats are introduced to grooming pretty much from birth and grooming is also something cats are born to do. You can tell by looking at the way they are built; they are like a grooming machine.

inventor cat meme grooming

Their tongue is rough due to the vast number of papillae on its surface which helps to grab onto any matt fur they may have developed. They are very flexible which mean they can reach pretty much anywhere on their body. They have sharp teeth and curved claws for that stubborn grime and they have a solid strategy, a good, meticulous approach on how to groom themselves making it very effective.


So much more occurs when a cat self-grooms, this low key blew my mind. The cat’s lick is an activity with the goal of stimulating sebum production. Sebum is an oily secretion produced at the base of each hair follicle, its purpose is to lubricate and protect the fur to make it shine. When cat’s groom themselves they are spreading this sebum all over their body and essentially making a shield for their fur against the world's elements. As a bonus it also removes any dirt or parasites that might be on their fur and prevents matting hair and hairballs.


Grooming is also used to cleanse injuries. This is done to fight infection and the papillae removes any dead skin cells that might be on the wound. Cats also groom for pleasure; it makes them feel good and can be used as a method to calm them – which goes back to the mothers protecting embrace – therefore grooming could also mitigate the stress of having an injury.


I’m sure you’ve never seen your cat sweat. Even an after long play session, you're probably drenched in sweat but your cat stays dry. This is because cats can’t sweat. One way they cool down is by grooming, the evaporation of their saliva on their fur regulates their body temperature.

Building on this, grooming also improves their circulation, hence why mothers use it on their kittens to provoke internal body mechanisms.


It’s incredible how what seems like one simple action has a myriad of benefits to the cat. You can tell why they do it half the time they’re awake.

inventor cat meme grooming

Sometimes the most simple things have so much beauty and meaning behind it.


Consider petting your cat. Petting is our way of grooming our cat. This is reserved for companions who have a strong bond with their cat and is shown to be one of the ways cats demonstrate cohesion in colonies.


If you can pet your cat, you are a lucky one, your cat has placed their trust onto you. Your actions can reflex the feelings they would get from their mother who was their provider. Use this time to check for any issues that may develop on the skin and strengthen the bond between you two.


If you can't pet your cat, don't worry, respect their decisions and don't pressure them to be petted. Sign up to Inventor Cat monthly e-books. One of them is on breaking down those barriers to petting.


The ultimate sign of trust and affection is your cat grooming you. So if this happens feel free to cry tears of joy.

 

Grooming is a barometer for feline health. An unthrifty appearance can signal illness in a cat, and older cats with arthritis may be unable to pretzel themselves enough to stay pristine.


Nothing in excess is good…comment if you find something that is. That goes the same for grooming. Excessive grooming will be triggered from emotional or physical illness. This would track back to using grooming for pleasure. It is an instinctive way that cat’s deal with pain, be that emotional or physical.


I noticed that my Lilo was grooming a lot his genitalia, thankfully I was able to spot this signal and took him to a vet. Turns out he was doing this because he has some small crystals in his urinary system. We changed his Purina diet to a veterinary specific one and that was it. All better!


Other physical reasons for over-grooming could be ringworm or flea bites, these can be fairly common so much sure to rule them out.


In some cases it is more difficult to treat, especially when it comes to emotional pain. Over-grooming usually occurs due to stress and grooming is the human equivalent of biting your nails. This can be triggered from a death, a new person living in the home, or even a home make over. Ultimately, cats don’t like change, so if change is inevitable, introduce the cat slowly to it to avoid this over-grooming.


By keeping your cat in a safe, stimulating and predictable environment your can prevent over-grooming and stress. There are also certain drugs you can use in extreme cases. Always speak to your vet beforehand.


Regular self-grooming will help your cat look good and feel good, but if they become ill, this may cause them to stop cleaning themselves. This could be a sign of arthritis, pain, or dental problems.


Cats who are taken away from their mothers too early may also not know how to properly clean themselves.

Watch for these warning signs of under-grooming:

  • A harsh or greasy coat

  • Small mats of fur on her body or tail

  • Staining on the paws from urine or residue

  • Foul smell

  • Food particles on her face or chest after meals

To encourage your cat to begin grooming, start by brushing them daily. Brushing stimulates the skin and blood circulation and rids their of fleas and ticks, if they have any. Some cat's do not like brushing so make sure you choose a time when the cat is more receptive to touching and keep the sessions brief.

When they start grooming, try not to interrupt them. It’s important for your cat, so let them make the most of it.


Grooming is like a swiss-army knife. An important tool in the cats arsenal and one that will dictate there overall health.




This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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