After sleep and rest, grooming is the most time-consuming activity for cats during the day. Maintaining hygiene and a true posture of relaxation are essential for the balance of our little companion. However, you can’t explain why they spend so much time grooming. In fact, you’ll see, it’s not just “clean”.
Why is grooming important for cats?
Cats groom themselves to keep them clean, but not only that.
If the cat spends so many hours licking every day, it is for aesthetic reasons, even if he does not know that it becomes more beautiful in this way. It eliminates all dust and parasites that may accumulate on the hair. They use their mouth like a curry comb, to pull their hair out and untie any knots.
The cat spends nearly a third of its waking hours licking and rubbing itself. It does this on all parts of its body and turns to reach the most inaccessible places. The area between the shoulder blades is the most difficult to reach. From head to tail it’s the same ritual every day. It starts at the head, uses the front legs as a washcloth, and then uses the forelimbs. Then it goes to the shoulders, sides, down to the genitals. The hind legs and tail are never forgotten. Every square inch of hair is thoroughly cleansed, licked, untangled and dried. The time a cat spends licking is very important to him. It is a way of being clean, but also of good health.
Cat hair care involves the removal of dead hair, which has several functions. First of all, it provides furs with natural protection for animals. Licking stimulates the glands at the roots of the hair, thereby helping to protect the hair. Grooming also helps to stimulate blood circulation, absorbs vitamin D and improves muscle tone. It is also useful in thermoregulation: licking can cool the body surface through evaporation, because cats rarely sweat! Finally, it acts as a regulator and then constitutes an alternative activity. Sometimes, we can observe cats licking themselves carefully before a storm, or under stress…
Can I help my cat with the grooming?
No, not really. The cat needs to wash quietly and calmly, as we have already explained. Treat this moment as a ritual, a ceremony. The slightest noise can disrupt the proper conduct of the ritual and be a source of anxiety for your cat.
However, you can help in your own way by brushing occasionally. This action is even recommended and very necessary for some longhair breeds. Brushing removes dead hair from the fur, so your little friend won’t have to swallow it. Indeed, this dead hair form balls by accumulating in cat’s stomach which he sometimes tries to vomit and which can be dangerous. For more information on how to help your cat with its grooming, see the following article: Cat Grooming: The Key Points To Remember.
When should i worry about my cat?
As we already mentioned, grooming is an important ritual in a cat’s daily life, and you can know its habits by observing it. Therefore, any change should alert you.
If your cat washes too much, it is very likely that he is trying to express pain or iritation.
Excessive licking of the forelimbs and lower back is usually a sign of stress or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). It is important to find the source before the situation escalates.
If, on the contrary, your cat is not washing anymore, it could be an illness that makes washing painful or a problem in the mouth that makes licking difficult. But it can also be a sign of aging as older cats are less flexible and find it difficult to wash, especially when they have osteoarthritis or bone and joint pain.
In any case, if in doubt, please do not wait and consult your veterinarian.