Your Cat’s Grooming Habits – Defined

4 10 2010

Look for your cat right now and it’s very likely that she is in one phase or another of her grooming routine: just started, just finished or somewhere in between.  If you’ve ever wondered what their grooming habits mean, please read on.

Cats are notorious for their grooming habits. It serves many functions and is an important part of their lives. But do you ever stop to wonder why they groom so much or groom in a certain way? Hopefully this post will shed a little light on the subject.

  • The constant licking of the coat is an important part of keeping dust and dirt out of their fur.
  • If you see your cat grooming a lot on a hot and humid day or in an extremely warm environment it’s because they only have sweat glands on their paw pads and the most efficient way for them to prevent overheating is evaporation.
  • Think there’s no reason for their rough little tongues? Wrong! That “sandpaper” tongue is helpful in removing dead hairs from their coats. One problem: the little barbs on their tongues that give it that sandpaper feel face backwards, which means all the dead hair is swallowed. This leads to, you guessed it, hairballs. You can help decrease hairballs for your kitty by regularly brushing your cat.
  • You may find that your cat grooms immediately after eating. This helps to remove the scent of food from their fur.
  • Grooming is a social activity for your cat, as well. In fact, if you have a multi-cat home, you will find they engage in mutual grooming as part of their socialization. Having familiary scents is an important way for helping cats recognize each other. You may find after you’ve had one of the cats at the vet, the other cats may seem anxious around the recently-vetted kitty. This is because your cat has taken on the smell of the vet office and the other cats don’t “recognize” him or her. You’ll find that things settle down after the vetted kitty has time to groom.
  • If your cat is nervous or anxious, you may find his grooming habits will increase. They groom to help displace the anxiety but this can also lead to baldness if not discovered right away. If you notice this, you’ll need to contact your vet right away and then try to discover the source of the anxiety.
  • When your cat has an injury or parasite or other health problem, she may groom more, particularly in the spot that’s agitated. If you notice, you’ll need to get her to the vet immediately.

We’d love to read your comments about your cat’s grooming behavior. Do you have a “kitty kontortionist?” Does your cat go to a certain spot in the house to groom?

Cat Fun Fact: Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the principles of gravity, also invented the cat door!

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