Food for Thought: A Look at Cat Grooming Practices
Cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day, but there are many that get upwards of 20 hours! When they aren’t dreaming of chasing mice, fighting rivals, or licking their chops for a taste of tuna, cats are highly alert and keenly aware of themselves. To that end, they spend up to half of their waking lives grooming themselves.
What is this fixation on grooming all about? More importantly, what can owners do to help their cats stay clean and encourage healthy grooming? Let’s take a look at cat grooming practices to get a better understanding of this important social instinct.
Staring Right at You
A healthy cat has a healthy-looking coat. You should notice a lustrous sheen on their coat that is free of mats, tangles, dead hair, dander, and debris. It’s soft because their main grooming tool, the tongue, is covered with small barbs called papillae. These easily remove loose hair and dust to give their coat a beautiful appearance.
The Advantage of Flexibility
Cats also lick their front paws in order to clean their eyes, ears, and other hard to reach spots. You might also notice that they use their teeth to nibble on thick patches of fur, spots where plant matter got stuck, or areas that bugs have latched onto. They also use their teeth to trim their growing claws.
Why Are Cats So Obsessed?
Cats are fastidious self-groomers for the following reasons:
- To keep them safe from predators
- To regulate body temperature (cat grooming accounts for ⅓ of their body’s cooling process, but spreading out the fur’s naturally occurring oils also helps seal in body heat during colder weather)
- To increase the circulation of blood
- To keep wounds clean
- To relax and soothe any nerves
Cat grooming also comes in handy between cats that live together. Allogrooming, or social grooming, hinges on mutual trust. Doing so also establishes a communal scent that communicates to other animals that they belong to a group. This is also why cats groom their special humans.
Professional and At-Home Cat Grooming
Cats are often perceived as self-cleaning pets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from occasional human intervention. Aging seniors, those suffering from arthritis or dental pain, and overweight or obese cats may require a routine that includes bathing, brushing, and trimming.
At home, aim to brush your cat’s coat as frequently as every single day. This can be a fun activity and one that promotes bonding.
Professional groomers not only take care of the aesthetics, they also look carefully for parasites, lumps or bumps, skin issues, matted fur, and more. They typically bathe cats, trim the claws, clean the ears, and bring attention to any health concerns like swelling, bald spots, odor, and more.
Healthy = Happy
If we can assist you with questions about cat grooming, Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is always here for you.