It is said that if you mess up a cat's hair, it will spend the rest of its day grooming itself. Well, it is because cats want their fur to be cleaned and will normally spend 30-50% of their awake time grooming themselves. Ever wondered why cats are so clean? Or why they lick themselves so often? Well, this blog will explain everything!
Cats learn their grooming behavior from their mothers when they are just 2 weeks old. Mother cats clean their little ones. But how can licking function as cleaning? Well, by licking, cats can remove loose hair, dirt, and flea. For hard-to-reach areas of the body, cats will first lick their paws or forelegs and then rub their face and chin. Grooming can stimulate the production of sebum, produced by glands at the end of each hair. It can further lubricate and protect the fur, so grooming is good to maintain healthy skin and fur.
Cats don't just lick their fur to clean it but can also help them cool down during hot weather. You'd be surprised to know that cats do not sweat like humans. Besides, while dogs can pant to cool themselves, cats aren't that lucky! In short, cats can put saliva on the fur and rely on its evaporation to regulate body temperature and cool themselves down. If a cat is panting with its mouth open, it may be too hot for it to handle. In such a case, take it to a vet right away!
Grooming can be done out of social purpose. Mutual grooming is easily seen among cats. It can help cats with those hard-to-reach areas and also establish friendly relationships. With exchanging saliva, mutual grooming means showing affection and mutual trust. In addition, licking can leave a scent on other cat's body which is pretty important for recognizing each other, especially in the wild. If your cat grooms your hair or licks your hand/arm, it is showing its affection to you and trying to clean you.
Just how humans bite fingernails, a cat will show its grooming behavior when it is stressed out. It helps it to cope with stress or fear, and it's also known as one of the most common forms of displacement behaviors in cats.
Additionally, it is not necessary to regularly bathe your cat since most of them are afraid of it. In fact, through self and mutual grooming behaviors, they can clean themselves. When your cat is licking you or grooming you, please pat it gently and say "thank you."