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Why Do Cats Groom?

Bet you never wondered, why your cat grooms itself. More than likely you thought "the silly cat does not have anything better to do." Not true! There are some very good reasons for the whole cat grooming process.

First of all, have you ever watched the ritual a cat follows when grooming?

No? Well, there is almost a universal way cats groom themselves, meaning most cats follow it to the letter. First the paws, then the sides of the face, behind their ears and then their chest area, the next time you see your cat sitting down to start grooming, watch it.

A normal adult cat will spend up to 50 percent of its waking time grooming itself. Some cats will do less (like overweight cats) and some will do more (longhaired cats) and if they get into some sort of a mess, a cat will even spend more time cleaning up.

Yes, cat do like to be clean and grooming gives them something to do, but there is a method to their madness.

Many of the things a cat does as part of its ritual grooming process has been instilled in its genetic makeup for centuries, as part of its survival mechanism.

Cleaning up after eating is nature's way of protecting the cat from predators. We feed our cats processed cat food, but in the wild they ate birds, mice and other small prey, as a result they would get blood on their fur and in order to remove the scent, washing was necessary.

A mother cat cleans her kittens and cleans up very well after giving birth as natures way of protecting her and the kittens from predators. The scent of blood would attract others that could kill them. Kittens learn to clean themselves within a few weeks after birth.

Grooming is also a form of temperature control. Cats do not sweat as we do in the heat of summer, they sweat a little through their paws and by breathing, but grooming does most of the cooling off. The saliva on their fur evaporates and thus cools them. In the winter, grooming spreads around their natural oils and thus insulates them from the dampness and cold.

Licking is a way to reduce stress, should a cat feel stressed, reduce anxiety (like when they are scolded) and help to calm them, if they are in pain. Licking a wound may prevent infection, as it is believed that the saliva contains enzymes that act as an antibiotic. Licking also removes parasites a wound and other parts of the body.

Cats express friendship toward other cats by licking them. Kittens will groom their littermates after they have learned to groom themselves as an act of affection.

Adult cats for some reason know the exact spots to lick on their friends. They will lick the head, neck and face of their friends, knowing that these are the hard spots to reach when self grooming.

It has been often thought by us humans that cats lick us because they are enjoying the salt on our skins, but that is not the truth. If your cat decides to give you a lick, it is a sign that you are a friend and that you are accepted into their family, regardless of the fact that you are not furry.

I have lived with cats most of my life and today we have four entirely different cat companions. Each one has its own personality and behavior patterns, each one possesses characteristics we absolutely love and some we love to hate. Everyday I learn something new about them and I am constantly amazed and amused, along with being grateful that I have them as they have touched my life in so many wonderful purrfect ways.

Cats are amusing and cats are irritating, sometimes all at once. If you love being kept on your toes, fall in love with a cat. If this article has been of benefit, please visit my web site and blog at

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