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13 Reasons Why Do Cats Lick Themselves Most of the Time?

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Whenever someone asks you about your cat, or you suddenly remember them on a busy day at your workplace, we bet the image any cat parent would get is of his/her cat either licking its paw, nose, or any other body part!

Now, you may ask yourself, why do cats lick themselves! Is it because of hunger or anything else? well, there are many reasons behind this behavior of your cat, let’s have a look at them and try to understand our cats in better ways.

13 reasons why do cats lick themselves:

why do cats lick themselves

1. Cats Are Meticulous Groomers

There are various reasons why do cats lick themselves, take it for grooming, or anything else. You will find them spending 50% of their time licking themselves! It is because they are me1ticulous groomers. They use their uniquely designed tongue to keep the body clean.

cats are meticulous groomers

You will find your cat licking herself around the meal times, and after, she won’t stop unless and until her idea desire of being clean is fulfilled.

2. To Stay Spotless

Cats in the wild have the natural instinct to remain clean and leave no track behind for the predators, and that’s why even domestic cats have this instance to stay spotless. Even kittens start grooming themselves within a few weeks.

cats lick themselves to stay spotless

This is basically a combination of learned behavior from the mommy cat and natural instinct. The average cat sleeps 15 hours per day, which means they spend 4 to 5 waking hours grooming and licking different parts of their body. You can also include biting and chewing behavior with licking.

3. Saliva Helps Them Cool Off

One of the greatest reasons, Why do cats lick themselves is also because they use their saliva for a cooling effect.

saliva helps cats to cool off

Because cats have a thick coating of fur on their bodies, they are unable to sweat like humans. Excessive heat is expelled in humans by sweating, which is also known as ”thermoregulation” since the heat evaporates from the body through sweat.

Thermoregulation is a self-regulating system that allows cats to maintain their body temperature regardless of external temperatures.

Temperature regulation is a form of homeostasis that allows an organism to maintain a constant internal temperature in order to survive.

4. To Reduce Anxiety

Just like us humans, our cats can also suffer from fact, cats are more prone to suffer from stress and anxiety, one of the reasons why they hide away from you.

cats lick to reduce anxiety

To distract themselves from this feeling, they often get engaged in such licking activities, which helps them to reduce anxiety.

It is also known as displacement behavior.

5. To Remove Fleas and Skin Parasites

You never know what fleas or parasites are residing in your cat’s body, but your cat surely does! We know how annoying it can get when a mosquito bites you! Just imagine, the condition of our poor cats. They can bother your cat too much!

cats lick themselves to remove fleas and skin parasites

What our clever cats do, they start licking themselves to remove the fleas or parasites. Especially if you see your cat biting herself and then licking on it, it’s only because of the fleas.

6. Allogrooming

Sometimes you might just wonder, why do cats lick themselves? Who teaches them to do so? Well, this question has a combined answer, licking is both learned behavior and natural instinct.

cats lick themselves to remove fleas and skin parasites

Mother cats lick their kittens after birth to clean them, stimulate them to release urine and feces, rouse them to suckle, and provide comfort. Kittens learn this behavior, and they also start grooming their littermates as well as the mammy cat.

This mutual licking is known as allogrooming, kittens will carry this licking activity till adulthood. To serve a special bond, the cat family performs this social activity known as allogrooming.

7. Socializing

One of the most common reasons why cats lick themselves is that they want to socialize. Your cat can come and lick you as a way of showing her love and affection.

cats lick themselves to socialize

In the same, she shows a positive or friendly. Some vets would suggest that to know if your cats want to be groomed. If you live with many cats, you might notice them using licking as a greeting behavior. Which indicates friendliness among adult cats.

8. To Make a Washcloth of Their Paw

This is so far the most interesting reason why cats lick themselves! So as you know by now that how many cats are obsessed with cleaning themselves through licking. Their sandpaper-like tongue can definitely reach their paws and at least some parts of the body.

cats lick to make a washcloth of their paw

So, how can they clean their whole body if they can’t reach their tongue to other parts of the body? Cats lick their paws to make them damp with their saliva, this converts the cat’s paw into a washcloth and that’s how our clever cats reach the unreachable parts of their body.

9. To Stimulate Their Kittens

Cats lick their kittens, for better blood circulation, which helps them to maintain their fur and skin health.

cats lick to stimulate their kittens

10. To Remove Irritation Causing Allergies

Cats are prone to get irritation causing allergies, they might lick themselves to get rid of this type of irritation. There are two types of skin allergies your cat could get, airborne allergies and skin allergies.

cats removing irritation causing allergens

Airborne allergies are caused if your cat comes to you after rolling into irritation causing plants such as pollen, give her a good bath after inspecting.

11. Increase Blood Flow

The only process in which a cat is able to groom herself is by licking, which helps to increase the blood flow. It also helps your cat’s fur and skin to remain healthy and shiny.

cats lick to increase blood flow

Well don’t worry if your cat is not that much into licking herself, you can always groom her on your own with the help of brushes and combs.

12. To Eliminate Their Scent

Did you know the fact that cats have a smelling sense 14 times stronger than humans, which is why they are more sensitive towards it also, cats like to leave their scent on the desirable objects, humans, and other pets! Why do they do it? To make things familiar.

cat licking to eliminating scent

Now they use the same way, which is licking, to eliminate a particular undesirable scent smell.

For example 1: Your cat recently had her meal, and you catch her engaging in licking activity, this is because she’s trying to clean herself by eliminating the food odor.

Example 2: Cats in the wild lick themselves to remove any scent from their body so that no wild animals could trace them.

13. Soothe Injuries

We guess almost every cat parent has experienced this in their life, if your cat has a cut or any other kind of injury, she will mainly focus on that particular area by licking it. Why is she doing it! Why do cats lick themselves when they are injured?

cat licking injuries

The answer is very simple, to create a soothing effect.

This is useful for them as the cat’s saliva contains enzymes that have antibiotic properties that help to keep injuries clean and safe from catching any kind of infection. However, don’t just depend on this, if your cat is suffering from big cuts or injuries, give her proper medical attention.

How to Know If It’s Over Grooming?

What is over-grooming?

Over-grooming means when a cat engages in excessive licking, biting, nibbling, chewing, or sucking the coat or skin, with no underlying medical cause, is typically indicative of stress.

What causes stress in cats: Fear, lack of stimulation, isolation, new pet in the household, move to a new household, separation anxiety, or in some cases early weaning.

In such a situation, you need to visit your vet.

How to Know If It’s Under Grooming?

Now that you know why do cats lick themselves, it is because of the natural grooming instincts which are completely normal behavior of cats, cat owners who might be just worried that why their cat is not engaging in such licking behaviors! Is she fine! Or do I need to do something about it?

If your cat is under-grooming herself, then it represents joint problems or dental problems which is making it hard for her to lick.

Here are a few characteristics of cats who under groom themselves:

  1. Greasy coat
  2. Dull coat
  3. Matted fur
  4. Paws full of stain
  5. Smelly fur
  6. Food leftover on mouth


So, now you know why cats lick themselves, in fact, they spend half of their time engaging in licking and cleaning’s important for you to realize that this kind of grooming behavior helps them to fulfill more than one function in their lives.

However, look out for excessive licking behaviors as they can result in, thinning of hair or missing hair in the hair coat, including redness on the skin and/or even bald patches. In such a case, visiting a vet is the best decision you could make as a cat parent.


  1. Ever wondered why cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves? — The Washington Post
  2. 7 Reasons Why Cats Are So Clean — Reader’s Digest
  3. Cats that Lick Too Much — Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

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