Cleaning is an essential part of every animal. However, cats took this part too seriously. Cats like cleaning themselves so much that they tentatively spend 50-60% of their hours grooming and cleaning themselves.
And if your cat seems to be cleaning and licking herself incessantly, then this might be an alarming sign of any underlying condition, and it may be time for a visit to the vet.
However, cats clean themselves often not only to keep clean but also for other reasons.
“Cats clean themselves for fur maintenance and warmth. Their tongue is actually like sandpaper. By licking itself, the tongue acts like a comb. So they de-tangle and remove mats in their fur as they bathe. Also, Cats spread a natural oil that’s in their skin. It kind of acts as an insulator and can keep them warm in the winter. In hot weather, spreading the saliva all over their coats helps them stay cool.” According to Dr. Anthony Brooks, DVM.
Now, let’s look at the reasons — why do cats clean themselves so often!
1. To Get Rid of Dirt
The face and paws are the most groomed and cleaned parts of a cat. She doesn’t like having dirt particles on the paws as a result, cats clean the paws often.
While using litter, doing a certain outdoor activity, or having playful adventures, dust particles tend to stuck on the paws. It passes on the face when she scratches or pats her face with the paws.
To get rid of that dirt, she will start cleaning her body by licking herself.
2. To Tackle Allergens
If your cat senses any small particles that can cause allergies or irritation, then cats will start grooming and cleaning themselves to get rid of the allergens.
As cats hate bathing, they will try to clean themselves as soon as they detect any allergens on their body parts.
3. For Cloaking Their Smell
Coming from a predator family, cats know well when and why to hide their smell. If your cat finds a potential threat from any animal or a distressing situation, she will clean herself.
She will hide her scent thoroughly by cleaning the scenting glands.
4. To Maintain the Hygiene of Coat and Fur
Cats like to keep themselves clean as much as possible, tentatively cats spend most of their time cleaning themselves through their tongue as it can help to clear the dirt easily.
The cat’s tongue also works like a comb, therefore it helps the cat to maintain the flow of fur and sweep the dead skin or extra hair on the coat.
5. Clean the Wounds
Whether it’s cats or any other pets, open wounds are like a party for all the unwanted bacteria and germs. To seal them away, cats lick to clean the wound through her saliva.
The saliva of cats has natural enzymes in them, which work as an ointment that will soothe her pain and will help in getting a speedy recovery. Thus, they like to clean the wounded area often.
6. To Keep Cool
As per their body type, cats are homeotherms, meaning they have to regulate their normal body temperature constantly.
To maintain their natural body temperature, cats constantly clean themselves through saliva. As saliva works as water, and by spreading by cleaning process it absorbs heat and evaporates keeping the cat’s body temperature cool.
7. To Spread Natural Oils Through Their Body
Cat’s tongue is a type of sandpaper, it has a texture of skin exfoliant. Furthermore, cats produce a form of oil to keep them moisturizing.
The cleaning technique of the cat helps these natural skin oils to spread evenly all over her body. There are hundreds of little barb-shaped spines on the tongue of your felines that can help the natural oils to reach the fur and skin.
8. Sake of Self Satisfaction
Most of the cat time goes into grooming herself, in fact, experts say cats groom themselves up to 50-60% of their time. In addition, waking hours grooming helps cats find a form of relaxation.
Cats like to make sure that their fur is luscious and shiny, to acquire, this cat keeps cleaning herself. It is a form of satisfaction she feels from this ritual.
9. To Eliminate Fleas and Mites
Fleas and mites are one of the common problems seen in cats. They are the small creatures that are on the fur and ears of cats.
Fleas and mites cause itchiness and irritation. As a result, cats clean themselves through their tongue to remove mites and fleas from their fur.
10. In Order to Sidetrack Her Mind
Whenever a cat comes to face a situation that might be uncomfortable or unsafe according to her. So, to calm herself, the cat starts cooling herself through cleaning.
Self-grooming can be a sign of displacement behavior or anxiety.
11. Issue of Habit
Cats tend to learn weird habits throughout their life. Grooming and cleaning herself is one of the most common habits found in cats.
Whenever cats get bored, anxious, or stressed, you’ll often witness them cleaning themselves by licking or scratching.
Cats are social animals, they like to maintain their bond with their species. They express their love and affection by cleaning each other by licking.
The act of cats grooming themselves is an indication of respect and mutual trust. It includes an exchange of scent which makes them feel safe and secure.
13. Regulate Blood Stimulation
As the cat’s tongue plays the role of a skin exfoliant that helps to clean their fur and skin. Moreover, it also helps the cat to regulate the blood flow in her body.
Just like a light massage on the head advantages in blood circulation, a certain type of licking helps the cats in proper blood stimulation.
14. To Get Rid of Other Odors
Being sensitive to smell, cats hate unusual odors. Like smell from the food stuck on the whiskers, the smell of humans lingering on them after petting or, smell from their paws after using the litter box.
As a consequence, cats clean themselves to get rid of these odors.
15. For Motherly Instincts
Cleaning themselves is a form of technique that cats learn while growing up. Thus, most kittens learn from their moms or adult cats to nurture themselves.
Hence, a new cat mom or pregnant cats loves to clean themselves via licking to practice nurturing or teaching young ones the cleaning part.
Cats hate bathing, hence, this habit of cleaning themselves is more common in cats. There is no that doubt cats are clean, and as you can see, there are several reasons to — why do cats clean themselves so often.
Felines cleaning themselves is beneficial, but practicing this act aggressively or in excessive amounts has its own downfall.
Cleaning and grooming are some of the habits which are healthful, so there is no reason to stop her from practicing these habits. Just make sure you are providing a healthy and safe environment for your cats.