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09-02-2021 · Cat's mainly lick themselves to stay clean, but there are more reasons to lick than the occasional bath. We dive into what causes this behavior.
When you look over to see what your cat is doing, we bet that half the time, they’re sleeping and the other half, they’re cleaning themselves! But why do cats spend so much time licking themselves? There are plenty of different reasons, so let’s explore them all.
1. To keep themselves clean
The most likely reason that you’ll see your cat licking themselves is simply to keep their fur nice and clean. Kittens start grooming themselves when they’re just a few weeks old. It’s estimated that cats spend roughly 50% of their waking hours preening that fur until it’s as clean as possible!
2. To regulate their body temperature
Cats don’t sweat through their entire skin surface like we do. In hot weather, they can sweat through their paws, but that might not be enough to maintain their normal body temperature. By grooming themselves, the saliva on their fur evaporates, which helps keep them cool. Pretty smart!
3. As displacement behavior
Some cats will start to groom themselves to distract from a stressful or unpleasant situation. Compulsive grooming can be a sign of anxiety at a change within their routine or the addition of a new pet.
4. To distribute natural oils
The process of licking helps distribute the natural oils produced by your cat’s skin evenly across their fur. This helps keep their fur looking in great condition and their skin smooth. The oils also help keep your cat’s fur slightly water resistant, as well as warm in colder weather.
If a cat is bothered by fleas or other skin parasites, they may groom themselves in an attempt to remove these annoying parasites. If you see your cat biting their skin at the same time as licking themselves, they may be irritated by bites.
6. To relieve allergies or infections
If your cat has an allergy or infection affecting their skin, they may try to lick themselves in an attempt to remove the irritation. If the allergy or irritation is caused by something airborne, like pollen, or by something that your cat has walked through or rolled in, then giving your cat a bath to wash the irritant off can help. Seek veterinary advice to be on the safe side.
7. To stimulate circulation
Grooming helps increase blood flow, keeping your cat’s skin healthy. You can achieve the same thing by regularly brushing your cat.
8. As a compulsion
Cats do groom and lick themselves frequently, but if it seems like your cat is grooming themselves more obsessively than normal, it might be time for a check-up with the vet. Compulsive grooming can cause lesions and hair loss, so your vet should be able to help you figure out why your cat is over-grooming.
9. To clean injuries
Have you ever noticed that if your cat has a small cut, they’ll concentrate on licking that area? Your cat’s saliva contains enzymes, which act as a sort of antibiotic to help keep injuries clean and free from infection. If your cat sustains a large cut, though, it’s best to take them to your vet for a check-up.
10. To hide their scent
Our domestic cats might not need to worry about too many predators, but they will still clean food or strong odors off their skin to try to hide their scent from potential predators. Depending on where you live, outdoor cats can be at risk from coyotes, snakes, or other wild animals.
11. To bond with another cat
If you live with multiple cats, you might see them licking each other. This is a sign that they’re bonded, as they’re happy to swap scents and pheromones with each other. It also probably reminds cats of being groomed by their mother when they were kittens.
12. Because it feels good
Sometimes cats groom themselves because it just feels good! The routine of licking themselves can help cats feel relaxed and safe. Your cat might groom themselves to relax before starting the other activity that they do so well: sleeping!
Now that we know the main reasons that a cat will lick themselves so often, let’s look at the other end of the scale. What if your cat isn’t grooming themselves enough?
Under-grooming can be a sign that your cat has joint problems making them uncomfortable or dental problems or that they’re in pain. Signs of under-grooming include:
- Matted fur
- Greasy coat
- Dull coat
- Stains on paws
- Food left on the face
- Smelly fur
You can try to encourage your cat to start grooming themselves again by brushing them to stimulate the blood circulation. If your cat is over- or under-grooming, always seek advice from your vet so they can rule out any conditions causing pain or those that need medical treatment.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
If your cat is licking too much, they can lose fur in strips along their back, belly, or inner legs. The affected areas may be completely bare or have very short stubble. Your cat may also have an unusually high number of hairballs. Here are some common reasons for excessive licking in cats and what you can do to help. Why Do Cats Overgroom?
It’s normal for cats to groom on a regular basis. After all, cat self-grooming is an important behavior that helps cats remove loose hair, dirt, and parasites from their coat.
Cats typically spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming, but excessive amounts of licking, biting, chewing, or scratching may mean that your cat’s self-grooming habits have become problematic.
If your cat is licking too much, they can lose fur in strips along their back, belly, or inner legs. The affected areas may be completely bare or have very short stubble. Your cat may also have an unusually high number of hairballs.
Here are some common reasons for excessive licking in cats and what you can do to help.
Why Do Cats Overgroom?
To help manage your cat’s overgrooming habits, you need to understand what’s causing the excessive licking in the first place. Your veterinarian can address the underlying issues.
Here are the most common health conditions that can lead to excessive cat self-grooming.
Allergy or Infection
Irritated skin can be caused by an infection, an allergy to certain foods, parasites, or substances in the environment. Your cat’s fur-loss pattern may even hint at the source of the problem:
Flea allergy: irritation at the base of the tail
Ear mites: hair loss and scabbing on the neck and ears
Allergic response to pollen: excessive chewing of the paw pads
Overgrooming can also indicate that your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort, particularly if she is repeatedly licking one area of her body.
For example, disc disease can cause back pain so that your cat overgrooms a certain spot on their back, while a urinary tract infection or anal sac impaction may encourage excessive grooming of the genitals or perianal area.
Stress or Boredom
Some cats use overgrooming as a way to cope with stress or boredom.
It is thought that licking releases endorphins that help relieve anxiety, so when a stressed cat finds relief in licking, it can turn into a habit.
Compulsive grooming, known as psychogenic alopecia, is usually triggered by a change in the cat’s daily routine or environment, such as moving to a new house or the arrival of a new family member or pet. Cats are very observant and may even feed off of our stress levels.
Cats are also highly intelligent and prone to boredom if their daily routine lacks proper enrichment. This cause of overgrooming is especially common in indoor cats that are alone for a large portion of the day.
In these cases, grooming helps make up for the lack of mental or physical stimulation.
This condition can be seen in any breed but is most common in Siamese, Abyssinian, Burmese, and Himalayan cats, due to their sensitive and attention-demanding dispositions.
How to Stop Your Cat From Overgrooming
The key to managing excessive grooming is to first address the underlying cause. Your veterinarian can diagnose the root cause and provide medical treatment or suggestions for deterring the habit if it’s behavioral.
Look for Medical Issues (Take Your Cat to the Vet)
First, your veterinarian will need to rule out medical problems.
Infections or allergies can be treated with the appropriate medications, which (depending on the cause) may include antibiotics, antihistamines, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Keep your cat on flea medication year-round to help with flea allergies and ear mites.
If your cat is in pain, your vet can determine what’s causing it and how to manage the pain.
Maintain Routines to Reduce Stress
Cats love routine, so if the hair loss is stress-related, try to create a comfortable environment and a predictable schedule. Change the litter box at least once a day, and feed your kitty at the same times every day.
It’s best to incorporate changes gradually, such as the introduction of a new pet or changes in your living situation, to limit the amount of stress for your cat.
Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation
Be sure to provide environmental enrichment for your cat with cat trees, different types of toys, scratching posts, and frequent opportunities for play. This will help your cat build confidence and distract her from obsessively grooming.
Try Cat Calming Medications and Products
Cats with persistent anxiety may benefit from anti-anxiety medications and/or supplements. You will need a vet’s prescription for medications, and calming supplements are available over the counter in the form of treats.
You can also try sprays and plug-in diffusers that disperse synthetic cat pheromones. Talk to your vet about the best course of treatment.
Be Patient With Your Cat
Finally, the most important part of managing overgrooming is to be patient.
If you see your cat licking excessively, don’t punish her or try to interfere. This will only add to your cat’s stress and make her overgrooming problem worse.
After you’ve sought help from your vet, it may take a month or so for an overgrooming behavior to resolve, and even longer for your cat’s fur to grow back.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Konstantin Aksenov
25-06-2020 · All this said, here are six ingenious reason cats lick themselves: 1. Cleaning and Pest Control. Cats are meticulous groomers and yes, they really do get clean by grooming. Their uniquely barbed tongues help to remove detritus from deep within their fur while dispersing sebum, an oil produced by sebaceous glands which lie a the base of each hair.
Being well-groomed isn’t just for us people–cats are experts at looking, and feeling, good too. But, for cats, it’s not just all about looks. Grooming is an innate behavior kitties perform that keeps them looking tidy but also keeps them cool, parasite-free, and even as a bonding behavior. So, what if your cat is performing some strange licking behaviors? Here are some of the ingenious reasons cats lick themselves and some examples of when you might need to be concerned.
Why Do Cats Lick Themselves?
Grooming is just about as important to kitties as sleeping. Cats can spend up to 50 percent of their waking hours grooming. Considering the average cat sleeps 15 hours per day, that means many are spending 4 to 5 hours licking some part of their body. With that much time spent focusing on grooming, it’s likely you’ll notice some strange licking behaviors–including biting or chewing.
Biting and chewing are simply part of the grooming ritual. Cats will bite at their claws in order to remove shedding or broken nails and though it looks a little strange, it’s very normal. “When we see a cat cleaning its paws, it may chew on its nails or around its paw pads to get rid of dirt, litter, or other debris,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa, clinical assistant professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, tells PetMD. “All of these can get stuck in the paw pads, so it is a necessary part of the cleaning process.”
This is the same for a cat’s glorious coat. Biting and chewing are just another way to really get in there and make sure dirt, potential parasites, and hairballs are kept under control.
All this said, here are six ingenious reason cats lick themselves:
1. Cleaning and Pest Control
Cats are meticulous groomers and yes, they really do get clean by grooming. Their uniquely barbed tongues help to remove detritus from deep within their fur while dispersing sebum, an oil produced by sebaceous glands which lie a the base of each hair. Amy Shojai, an author and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, points out to The Spruce Pets, “Licking spreads sebum over the hair coat to lubricate and protect the fur and make it shine. It also removes loose hair and prevents mats, and removes dirt and parasites like fleas.”
The smarties at Science report that studies of cats’ tongues and grooming habits shows that “saliva helps them cool off, according to thermal imaging—an important tool, as cats only have sweat glands on the leather of their paws.”
3. Conflict Avoidance
Over at Petfinder, Barbara Pezzanite, Ph.D., notes, “A cat may groom to temporarily reduce conflict, frustration, or anxiety. Under these conditions, licking becomes what is called a ‘displacement behavior’.” Pezzanite adds, “Displacement behavior can occur when an animal is motivated to perform two or more conflicting behaviors simultaneously. Unable to do so, a third behavior arises that is out of context with the situation. For example, during a social conflict a cat that feels threatened may be conflicted between running from its attacker and fighting. Caught in a bind, the cat decides to groom instead! Grooming appears to calm and reassure the cat.”
If you’ve ever watched a cat groom, you may have noticed the process generally follows a pattern when kitty is focused on getting a full grooming session in. Generally she will start by licking her paws and rubbing them over her ears and face, both sides, before working her way down her body. This process is soothing to kitties, which is probably one of the myriad reasons they get so lost in it.
Your cat may lick you to let you know how fondly she feels about you. If you live in a multiple cat household, you may notice your kitties grooming each other. This behavior, called allogrooming, is something that cats do to strengthen the social bonds between them.
6. Something’s Wrong
If your kitty is licking herself bald or you notice her licking or chewing repeatedly at a certain area, she could be telling you something is wrong. Focused licking can be a sign of pain in that area or of a more generalized condition such as skin allergies. If you notice focused licking or bald spots on your kitty’s coat, it’s time to check in with your vet.
When to be Concerned About Kitty Licking
Overgrooming: If your kitty is licking herself bald or pulling out chunks of hair, you might have an overgroomer on your hands. There are many reasons cats overgroom and most relate to a physical or emotional issue. These include fleas, allergies, stress, boredom, and pain so if your cat is overgrooming, get her to a vet so you can get her, and her luxurious coat, back to their shining selves.
Obsessive licking of non-food things: Sometimes cats lick things other than themselves, from plastic bags to walls. Usually, this isn’t an issue and just one of the ways curious cats explore their environment by sense–in this case, taste. If the behaviors you’re seeing seem like more than the occasional taste test, talk to your vet. Cats that chew or lick obsessively can have underlying medical or emotional conditions, such as pica, that may need your attention.
Licking you: If cat is licking you here and there, don’t worry. It’s a sign of affection. Or perhaps, your kitty just really likes your lotion or the salt on your skin. In the case that your cat is attracted to lotion or perfume, you will want to stop this behavior. Many perfumes and lotions contain essential oils that are toxic to kitties–it’s not likely you’ll be wearing a toxic load but better to be safe than sorry.
Why do cats like licking their owners?Why Do Cats Like Licking Their Owners? 1. A Cat Feels Extremely Comforting During Licks Experts say that many kittens, who are weaned early from their mums or the ones that are orphan, develop oral behaviors like licking and suckling sooner. In fact, they exhibit such babyish habits even in their adulthood.Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
Why is my cat constantly licking his paws?Excessive paw licking can be caused by injury, allergies or anxiety. Treatment will vary based on the cause. Injury. If your cat is excessively licking his paws, first check his paws for any signs of injury. Excessive licking of an area often indicates pain that the cat is trying to treat. Look for stickers, burrs or splinters stuck in the foot.Excessive Paw Licking in Cats
Why do cats randomly bite their owners?The most common reason that cats bite their owners isn’t that they have an aggressive cat, it’s because they are trying to play! While sharp teeth or claws may not feel very “playful” to you, hunting behavior equals play behavior for your kitty. This means stalking, pouncing, biting, and kicking.Why Do Cats Bite Their Owners?
It’s no secret that cats are some of the most aloof creatures around. However, if they are in a particularly affectionate or playful mood, they won’t hesitate to approach and initiate interaction with their owners. Every cat owner knows that felines can be quite clingy and expressive if the mood is right, but why do cats rub against you then bite?
As a general rule, cats rub themselves against their owners and then bite when they are happy or overstimulated. In some instances, it’s a bad habit they acquired when they were just kittens. Cats can sometimes bite while rubbing due to aggression caused by either frustration or pain.
There are many traits that make cats some of the best pets on the planet, from curious to friendly.
One trait of theirs that can leave their owners both captivated and guarded is unpredictability, evidenced mostly by cats biting their owners out of the blue. If you would like to know why your cat likes to bite while it’s rubbing itself against you or doing any other cute thing, such as purring or kneading, read on.
But before anything else, let’s answer this question…
Why do cats rub against you?
Cats rub against their owners to transfer their scent onto them. This act makes cat owners the possession of the cats they own. Cats rub against their owners to make them feel safe and protected, too. If their owners have picked up scents outside, cats erase those by rubbing themselves against them.
Refrain from assuming that your cat is rubbing itself against you because it wants to clean itself.
Cats clean themselves by licking themselves. And when your cat licks you, it wants to either clean you or say to you that it loves you. It’s for the same reason why a mommy cat licks its kittens. Unfortunately, just like when rubbing itself against you, a cat may also suddenly bite while it’s grooming you.
Now that we have established the reason why cats rub against their owners, it’s time to answer why then they bite.
People show their affection for one another in different ways — kissing, holding hands, hugging, etc. Cats may not be able to lock lips or wrap their arms around their owners alright, but they have their own ways of expressing their affection. Biting is one of them, which is what humans fondly refer to as a “love bite”.
It may sound like it’s painful and bloody. However, a love bite is a gentle bite that usually does not break the skin.
That’s because cats deliver a love bite when they are happy and relaxed. It’s nothing like a bite felines make while they are hissing, spitting and growling or with dilated pupils, arched backs and bushy tails.
If you are a new cat owner and you have never experienced a feline love bite before, the first time may leave you surprised and terrified, too. This is especially true if you have yet to completely get to know your furry pet’s personality and its full range of emotions. But worry not because a love bite, like the name suggests, is a sign that it loves you.
When a cat gives you a love bite, remember the following things:
- Do not pull your hand away. Because a love bite rarely leads to an open wound, refrain from yanking your finger or hand out of your cat’s mouth. This may cause your skin to end up scratched, and your cat’s teeth to wind up loose or knocked out. Be still and allow the cat to quit giving you a love bite.
- Do not reprimand your cat. A love bite comes from a good place, and it will break your cat’s heart if you will respond by yelling or hitting or spraying it with water. If you don’t want to receive any more love bites from it, what you can do is walk away from your cat for it to realize that you don’t like it.
Getting a nibble from a cat could mean a few other things, too, which is why we should answer this…
Why do cats bite gently?
First and foremost, cats bite gently to show their affection. It’s more common in cats that have had a litter as gently biting their little ones is a way to make them feel comfortable. Sometimes, cats bite gently to invite their owners to play. It’s also a way of telling they have had enough play.
To minimize being gently bitten by your cat, offer it toys — we will talk more about cat toys below.
Like kids, kittens love to play a lot. They play by chasing, stalking, pouncing, clawing, scratching and biting one another. To humans, it may seem extremely violent and dangerous. But to little cats, it’s absolute fun.
Playtime among kittens is like hitting two birds with one stone — it gives them the opportunity to have some fun and excitement while teaching them hunting skills that will come in very handy when they’re older. One very important skill that they need to develop is biting. Alas, when they’re older and playing with people, they may still bite, too.
Needless to say, one reason why your cat suddenly bites you during playtime is that it’s an acquired habit that it finds difficult to let go of. It’s kind of fine when your cat is just a tiny kitten. It’s a different story if it’s already old and big and its fangs are massive and sharp. Biting during play can sometimes break your skin.
Luckily, there’s no need to stop playing with your cat just to keep your hands free of wounds and scabs.
All you have to do is get your hands on some cat toys, many of which your feline will find more delightful to bite than your different body parts. When shopping for toys for your pet, opt for those that mimic some of the qualities of prey animals, such as those with fur, feathers and noisemakers.
What’s really nice about most cat toys is that your cat can play with them without your involvement. So, in other words, you can have some peace and quiet while your whiskered chum is having a blast.
Kneading is another habit from kittenhood that cats do, which brings us to this question…
Why do cats knead?
Cats knead to make themselves feel relaxed and comfortable, such as before taking a nap. It’s a leftover behavior while they were mere kittens, which they carried out while breastfeeding from their mother cats to stimulate milk flow. Adult cats knead their owners to display their love and affection.
Your cat kneading you can make you go “awww!” However, at times, it can also make you go “ouch!”
Cats rarely extend their claws when kneading. Unfortunately, some felines knead with their claws extended, which can leave whoever they are kneading in a great deal of pain — the happier cats are, the harder they knead. This is when the importance of keeping your four-legged pet’s claws trimmed, which is good for your skin and furniture, too.
Too much of a good thing is bad, and this applies to cats when in a playful mood. If their owners make the mistake of making them feel too excited, it could cause the cats to scratch and bite.
It’s because of this exactly why you should do your best to know when your feline pet is already overstimulated. Usually, it will exhibit the following when it’s time for you to stop tickling it: twitching fur, flickering or flattening ears, swinging tail, enlarging pupils, increasing vocalization.
Keep your peepers peeled when playing with your cat for several minutes. When it seems to be getting overstimulated, stop and then get away. Otherwise, your cat might introduce you to its claws and fangs.
This may leave you thinking that you are causing your cat to feel frustrated for abruptly stopping playtime. Because of this, you may be tempted to resume petting and tickling your cat. Keep in mind that you should avoid this at all costs. Since your cat’s adrenaline levels are still high, playtime could easily lead to wartime.
What you need to do instead is wait for your kitty cat to calm down for a few minutes. Some cats bounce back from overstimulation faster than others. Similarly, some cats become overstimulated quicker than the rest. Before approaching your pet again, check that the various signs of overstimulation that we mentioned earlier are already gone.
And this takes us to a critical question that needs an answer…
Why does my cat bite me when I pet her belly?
The abdomen houses numerous vital organs, making it a vulnerable part. Cats know this, which is why they will do everything necessary to protect it, especially in the presence of a predator. Rubbing a cat’s belly area activates a protective response that could cause the feline to scratch and bite.
Needless to say, you should refrain from rubbing your cat’s belly. This is true even if it’s lying on its back, which felines tend to do each time someone they trust is around.
Besides the abdominal area, you should avoid rubbing your pet’s paws and tails, too. You should also steer clear of touching their whiskers. On the other hand, your cat absolutely loves being petted on the top of the head, around the ears, cheeks and chin. They also love it when you rub the base of its tail.
Since cats are excellent hunters and extremely curious by nature, it doesn’t come as a big surprise why there are many stimuli in the environment that can fire them up. Unfortunately, it’s not always that felines can get what they want, which is why it can be quite easy for them to wind up frustrated or enraged.
This is when a cat may redirect its aggression toward something or someone else, such as its owner.
Cats and humans share more things in common than you think, and one of them is the penchant for redirecting their aggression if they cannot direct it toward the trigger.
It’s not uncommon for a person, especially one who’s terrible at expressing his or her anger in a healthy and acceptable manner, to yell at innocent people, smash things against the wall and slam doors. One may even resort to self-harm or alcohol or drug abuse to deal with his or her aggression.
Well, cats are like humans in that sense. However, the majority of felines choose to redirect their aggression by biting just about anything that’s within their easy access, such as the leg or hand of their owners.
Reducing aggression in your cat is essential if you no longer want to end up with scratches and bites due to its aggression redirected toward you. For instance, if you have several cats and some cannot seem to get along, it’s a good idea to separate your cats that act aggressively toward each other.
In some instances, seeking the help of a cat behavior consultant or specialist makes perfect sense.
Besides aggression redirected toward you, your cat may bite you out of the blue for different reasons. And this is why this question needs to be answered…
Why does my cat bite me unprovoked?
Cats bite unprovoked when they want something from their owners or feel that their owners are not giving them enough attention. In some instances, cats bite all of a sudden due to having an extreme startling reflex. Cats that hate surprises or being spooked can bite their owners unprovoked.
There is one more very common reason behind a cat biting unexpectedly, and we’ll talk about it next.
Cats are known to be affectionate and expressive. Well, except during those times when they prefer to be left alone. It’s also their nature to deal with pain on their own, which is embedded in their DNA makeup — if their ancestors, wild cats, showed they’re in pain, their enemies would take the opportunity to attack and kill them.
Because of this, it’s very rare for domestic cats to let their owners know that they are experiencing pain.
And when the pain is too much for them to bear, they will inform their owners without delay. In many instances, felines will express their pain through a bite.
Immediately check your cat for the presence of injuries, such as cuts, wounds, bruises and swollen joints. If there is no physical evidence that your pet is in some type of pain, the problem could be coming from within. For this, it’s a must that you take your pawed pal to the vet for a thorough assessment.
Was your cat diagnosed by a vet with a health problem in the past? There is a possibility that it has come back or worsened, and it’s causing your cat pain. Felines are vulnerable to an assortment of chronic diseases, or diseases that last for a long time, which require ongoing medical attention and can affect one’s quality of life.
In cats, some of the most common chronic diseases are skin conditions. Others include liver disease, endocrine disorders, cancer and obesity, which can cause many serious complications if not managed.
Besides biting you when in pain, a cat may also vocalize. And this brings us to this question…
Why do cats purr?
Cats purr when they are in a positive and relaxing mood. They purr when they are chilling out, nursing and grooming themselves or their kittens. Cats purr, too, when their owners stroke them. However, cats may also purr when they are stressed or experiencing something unfavorable, such as pain.
Because different cats tend to purr for different reasons, it’s important to understand your own cat.
When cats are in pain, it’s not just biting and purring that they do. These furry creatures also exhibit reduced appetite, decreased interest in playing and socializing, lethargy and hiding away.
Just Before You Play With Your Cat
The so-called love bites rarely break the skin. But from time to time, depending on the mood of cats, love bites can draw blood, too, which can potentially lead to a secondary infection.
When your cat rubs against you, avoid simulating it excessively to keep it from biting you. Needless to say, it’s a must to know some of the telltale signs that your feline pal is already overstimulated. And if it seems like biting while rubbing against you is a habit acquired from an earlier age, it’s a good idea to use toys during playtime.
In some instances, cats rub against you and then bite as a result of aggression. If the cause is frustration, allow your cat to realize that taking it out on you is wrong. Similarly, give it time to cool off.
Take your cat to the veterinary clinic if it seems like its aggression is the result of pain or discomfort from a physical injury or an undiagnosed health problem. Allowing your trusted vet to give your four-legged friend a thorough assessment is necessary for diagnosis and treatment, which can help put an end to unprovoked biting.
Observing your cat’s body language and the sounds it makes can help you understand it better.
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Why do cats clean themselves so much?Why Do Cats Groom Themselves So Much?A Little Bit About Cat’s Grooming. Cats start grooming themselves at the age of 4 weeks. ...Grooming Reasons Apart From Cleaning. Cats like to stay clean all the time but there are some other health reasons why they do so. ...Cat Overgrooming. Most cats spend 30%-50% of their waketime grooming themselves. ...Cat Undergrooming. ...Final Note. ...Why Do Cats Groom Themselves So Much?
09-10-2017 · Cats will lick when an area of their body is itchy or painful, says William Miller, Jr., VMD, a board certified specialist in dermatology and a professor at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. If pain is the issue, the licking is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. With itchy diseases, however, the licking is more widespread.
Some cats are more fastidious than others, but obsessive grooming signals a problem.
Nellie, a seven-year-old female spayed tortoiseshell, rolled over on her back and revealed a bald belly. That's when her owner suddenly noticed she had a cat that licked too much. Licking comes naturally to cats, but sometimes this normal grooming urge crosses the line into obsessive behavior. If your cat's licking seems excessive in frequency or duration, don't ignore the problem. Here's what you can do if you suspect your cat's habitual grooming behavior isn't so normal anymore.
Cats typically spend between 30 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, says Pamela Perry, DVM, animal behavior resident of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "It's a huge chunk of their day," she says. "Because cats groom frequently, owners usually don't notice a problem until they observe significant hair loss or skin lesions," she adds.
Why Cats May Lick
Cats will lick when an area of their body is itchy or painful, says William Miller, Jr., VMD, a board certified specialist in dermatology and a professor at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. If pain is the issue, the licking is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. With itchy diseases, however, the licking is more widespread.
"We call these cats 'fur mowers,' and their problem is common in cats," Dr. Miller says. "The area being 'mowed' gives us a clue as to the cause [which can include anything from parasites in kittens to neurological diseases in older cats], but there is great overlap," he says. For example, compulsive licking at the tail head may indicate a flea infestation, while cats with pollen or food allergies may lick their backs, abdomens or other areas of the body.
Licking that causes excessive numbers of hairballs or hair loss is abnormal, Dr. Miller notes. "Bald skin is more prone to sunburn, frostbite or other environmental insults," he says. "As long as the licking doesn't break the skin's surface, no infection will occur. If the cat gets more passionate about licking and abrades the skin surface [with its rough tongue], infection can occur. Infection will intensify the licking and a vicious cycle will be set up, resulting in a serious infection," he explains.
The solution to "fur mowing" is to identify the underlying cause and correct it. "The owner can check for fleas, lice and fur mats, but beyond that, a veterinarian should intervene," Dr. Miller says.
"Over-the-top" licking does not always stem from a physical health problem; the behavior can occasionally have a psychological cause. Cats like consistency and predictability, and change can be stressful, Dr. Perry says. A recent move, the addition or loss of another pet in the home, or even a change of schedule can cause anxiety in cats. Licking - which in such cases is considered a "displacement behavior" - may calm and comfort a cat, but it can sometimes become habitual if the source of the problem is not properly identified and addressed.
When It's Stress-Related
"If all medical problems have been ruled out, then we normally treat overgrooming as the result of some form of stress in a cat's life," Dr. Perry says. If possible, she recommends making changes or introductions gradually; bringing familiar items (such as bedding) to a new home; adding cat-friendly vertical space - high places where cats can retreat and feel safe; and keeping their environment stimulating by finding a few minutes (ten to 15 minutes daily will do) to play with them each day.
"Most cats really enjoy interaction," Dr. Perry says. "Finding what your cat likes, whether it's cuddle time with you or a favorite toy that is like a security blanket, can relieve stress."
Finally, if your cat is seriously stressed, a form of temporary anti-anxiety drug therapy prescribed by your veterinarian may be warranted, she says.
In addition, like people who bite their fingernails, the repetitive act of licking may involve a stress-relieving pleasure component that reinforces the behavior, Dr. Perry says. Thus, feline licking can become a habit that persists after the cause is identified and resolved. "Usually, the behavior is forgotten [naturally or with the help of medication] in about a month," Dr. Miller says.
Whether the cause is physiological or psychological, solving an overgrooming problem will require time and patience on the owner's part. For Nellie, who had recently endured the loss of a companion animal in her home, the solution required consistent attention, affection and routine. It took a few months, but her hair is growing back and her life has returned to normal.
If your cat is scratching, licking, or chewing themselves compulsively, it is likely you regularly catch them in the act. But if you don’t, your first clue may be the disappearance of your cat’s fur, often in strips along their back or stomach. Cats with self-mutilating behaviors may also cause red, irritated areas called hot spots to form, but they are less likely than dogs to do so ...
WebMD discusses common reasons why your cat might be biting, chewing, or scratching itself.From the WebMD Archives
Most cats are meticulous groomers, but what happens when the behavior goes into overdrive? For a variety of reasons, some cat licking, scratching, and chewing behaviors become compulsive, which can annoy you and damage your pet’s skin and coat.
If your cat is scratching, licking, or chewing themselves compulsively, it is likely you regularly catch them in the act. But if you don’t, your first clue may be the disappearance of your cat’s fur, often in strips along their back or stomach. Cats with self-mutilating behaviors may also cause red, irritated areas called hot spots to form, but they are less likely than dogs to do so.
Although compulsive cat scratching, licking, or chewing behaviors can develop in any animal, they are more commonly observed in Siamese cats and other Oriental breeds. Female cats are more likely than males to lick, chew, or pull on their fur.
Because there are a number of medical problems that may result in scratching and licking behaviors, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to help determine the cause and the best course of action.
Parasites. Fleas are often the culprits behind compulsive cat scratching or cat licking behaviors. Because cats are excellent groomers, they may actually remove all traces of fleas. If you notice your cat licking their lower back obsessively, with or without scabs on the neck, it is a sign that fleas might be causing the problem. Other parasites, including ticks, mites, and ringworm, can also prompt scratching, licking, or chewing.
Allergies. Just as some people develop skin irritations in response to certain foods or environmental triggers, cats may have itchy, irritated skin if they are allergic to something in their environment.
Dry skin. Dry winter air or nutritional inadequacies can contribute to dry, flaky skin that gets your cat started licking or scratching in search of relief.
Pain. If you notice your cat licking or biting at the same spot over and over again, it could be that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in that area.
Boredom, anxiety, or compulsive disorder. Compulsive cat chewing, scratching, or licking behaviors often develop in cats who are bored, stressed, or anxious. These mental disorders are more likely to occur in indoor cats, which may be due to the fact that they receive less exercise and excitement than outdoor cats. Compulsive disorders often begin when there are changes in a cat’s environment, including a new animal or baby in the house or a move to a new location. Also, behaviors that started in response to a medical problem sometimes persist as compulsions after the condition is resolved.
Eliminating parasites. Because it can be difficult to diagnose flea infestation in cats, some veterinarians recommend trying reliable flea control products purchased from a veterinary office for six to eight weeks to see if it reduces the incidence of licking, scratching, or chewing. Similarly, treating mites or other parasites, if present, can eliminate your cat’s discomfort and the problem behaviors.
Changing foods. Putting cats that arescratching or chewing on a 6-week exclusion diet is a good way to find out whether food allergies are the problem. You may have to try several diets before you find one that works. Veterinarians may also prescribe the addition of certain fatty acids or other nutritional supplements if dry skin is to blame for your cat’s incessant scratching and licking. No other foods or treats should be offered during an exclusion diet trial.
Using medication. Depending on the extent of skin damage your cat has caused by licking, chewing, or scratching, your veterinarian may prescribe the use of steroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics. Additionally, some compulsive cat behaviors caused by psychological factors can be addressed with clomipramine, an anti-anxiety medication, or amitriptyline, which helps fight anxiety and also functions as an antihistamine.
Addressing anxiety or boredom. If you and your vet determine that there is no physical cause for your pet's behaviors, there are things you can do to improve your cat’s state of mind. Making sure your cat feels safe, loved, and comfortable in your home is important, as is providing adequate stimulation and exercise. You may find that desensitizing your cat by slowly and carefully exposing them to things they fear can be beneficial. Be careful to take baby steps if you try this so as not to overwhelm your cat and make the compulsive licking, scratching or biting worse. Counter-conditioning, by training your cat to associate something pleasurable, like a treat, with something they fear may also help reduce stress and anxiety. Many times, boredom licking (also known as psychogenic alopecia) is improved by adding another cat or pet. But, there is always the risk that the second cat could be a new stress in your pet's environment that could make the hair loss worse.
Why Do Cats Lick Themselves When You Touch Them? Cats lick themselves when you touch them because they want to wipe off your human scent from their body. If you’re gently scratching a region of your cat’s body that she can’t reach, it’s possible that it’s unclean or itchy because it’s evaded her meticulous cleaning. This is more frequent on the back end and tail-head regions of ...
Cat behaviour will always be a mystery to humans, but their numerous paradoxes will keep people on their toes. When you’re spending a relaxing day caressing your cat, you might be perplexed when your cat begins grooming itself after you stop touching.
Cats lick and groom themselves after you groom them, even if it appears that you were grooming them because they are super concerned about their self-grooming.
You’ve certainly seen your cat grooming before, but why do they groom themselves after you’ve just petted them? As is typical of cats, there are a plethora of possibilities.
Why Does My Cat Clean Himself When I Pet Him?
Cats clean himself when you pet him because they do not like the cleaning that you offered.
The most straightforward explanation for your cat grooming after you pet them is that they just want to. Cats spend a lot of time grooming and cleaning themselves. Grooming can take up to 50% of a cat’s time.
Cats are intended to groom themselves, whether it’s by licking their front paws, their backs, or the rest of their bodies. Thousands of tiny spines called papillae cover their tongues.
These teeny-tiny spines are made to comb through their thin hair. Grooming also aids in the removal of parasites and other foreign objects from cats’ fur, as well as the distribution of their natural oils throughout their coat and skin to maintain their coat healthy.
So, while your petting session may be quite relaxing, it may be interfering with your cat’s grooming routine.
Another explanation for your cat’s behaviour is that he or she is attempting to engage in the grooming ritual. Cats are trained to groom themselves at a young age, generally by their mothers. Their mother cat grooms them and teaches her kittens how to groom each other, a behaviour known as reciprocal grooming.
There’s plenty of evidence that cats regard people as a large cat, such as a mother or sibling role. So, if your cat starts grooming themselves after you’ve petted them, it’s possible that they’re attempting to replicate that relationship.
They’re demonstrating that they care about you and consider you a member of their feline family.
Petting your cat typically makes you feel nice. It might even be soothing and delicious. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your cat. However, some cats dislike being petted excessively. Some cats may get overstimulated as a result of petting.
Some cats may respond by attempting to bite or fleeing. Grooming is another way your cat could react. You’ll probably cease touching them if they’re grooming. So, if your cat reacts as if they don’t like someone touching that region when you pet them and then starts grooming it, you might want to give them a break.
Why Do Cats Lick Themselves When You Touch Them?
Cats lick themselves when you touch them because they want to wipe off your human scent from their body.
If you’re gently scratching a region of your cat’s body that she can’t reach, it’s possible that it’s unclean or itchy because it’s evaded her meticulous cleaning. This is more frequent on the back end and tail-head regions of overweight cats.
When you touch that location, your cat may instinctively want to brush it, but because she can’t reach it, she licks the air or a section of her body she can reach instead.
If your cat has fleas, mites, or allergies that produce itchy skin, your petting might scratch an itch or make her feel uncomfortable. Although she may instinctively begin licking, some cats will bite or scratch the person providing the caressing, so be cautious.
Some cats appear to find human-provided petting and scratches distressing. They may not want to be touched in general, or they may prefer not to be petted on select portions of their body.
Other cats suffer from feline hyperesthesia syndrome, which causes their skin to be very sensitive, making even a minor pet or scratch unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Friendship cats frequently groom each other at the same time. When you pet your cat, she may lick herself or the air, which might be due to a reciprocal grooming need.
If your cat starts licking herself or the air when you pet or scratch her, take her to the doctor to be tested for skin problems.
The Perfect Angle gives your cat a variety of scratching options to choose from.
When this behaviour occurs, it’s critical to assess the rest of your cat’s body language. She’s undoubtedly satisfied with the manner you’re stroking her if she seems otherwise relaxed and joyful, leans into your caressing, and seeks it out again after you stop.
She probably doesn’t like what you’re doing if she looks agitated, leans away, or moves as if she may bite you.
If the activity only occurs when you pet a certain region, think about whether it’s a spot that your cat can’t groom on her own. If that’s the case, you can brush it for her on a regular basis to maintain it clean and comfy.
To respect your cat’s comfort and prevent getting bitten or scratched, avoid caressing certain regions if she appears to detest being handled in particular places.
Why Do Cats Lick Themselves After You Kiss Them?
After receiving human attention, cats clean themselves to get rid of whatever odours you may have left behind, even their own. This is so that when they hunt, their prey won’t be able to detect them by smell because they lack one.
It’s possible that your cat licks you to form a social relationship with you. A cat’s mother would lick them from the time they were a kitten, not just to groom them but also to demonstrate affection. Cats will then imitate this behaviour with you as a method of expressing their own devotion – it just happens.
Kissing is like to hugging in that cats don’t always reject it, but they also don’t always comprehend it. Any sort of physical love is usually the same to a cat, and if he tolerates one, he will most likely tolerate another.
It might be for a variety of reasons that your cat cleans itself after you pet or pick it up. They may be irritated that you touched them for whatever reason, and they’re trying to get rid of the scent—in most cases, this is an insult to you. It’s also conceivable that you’re wearing a smell that they dislike.
Why Does My Cat Bite The Air When I Pet Her?
Your cat grows more upset the more he is petted, and his licking activity might develop to him biting at the air around him.
This behaviour may appear amusing at first, but it soon becomes clear that the cat is angry. Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome is the name of the condition (FHS).
Although your cat’s grooming behaviour is usually entirely natural, it can occasionally be an indication of a health condition that you should address.
Psychogenic alopecia is one of these issues. Hair loss caused by emotional or psychological over grooming is known as this ailment. If you’ve observed that your cat grooms themselves not just when you’re touching them, but also throughout the day.
It’s also time to take your cat to the clinic if you detect hair loss or other signs. Hypersthesia is a condition in which your cat’s skin becomes excessively sensitive as a result of emotional or psychological stress.
If your cat becomes twitchy, has rippling skin over their back, or exhibits other unusual habits, he or she may require the services of a veterinarian or behaviourist. A specialist can assist you in reducing stress in your cat’s life, which is the source of their odd behaviour.
Why Do Cats Lick Themselves While Playing?
Cats lick themselves while playing to express their pleasure.
Self-grooming activates endorphins, making it a simple method for cats to relax, release tension, and calm down. Eating, pursuing prey, snuggling with their owner, play-fighting with another cat, and so on can all be disrupted by an abrupt licking session.
Frequently Asked Questions
Grooming is a way for a cat to momentarily relieve tension, frustration, or worry. The cat looks to be calmed and reassured after grooming. Over-grooming, such as licking, biting, nibbling, chewing, or sucking the coat or skin excessively without a medical reason, is usually a sign of stress.
Cats comprehend your devotion for them when you kiss them, since they exhibit their affection and love by bumping or brushing their heads against the other cat.
Grooming is a powerful expression of affection. If your cat licks your mouth or face, he or she is expressing true love and devotion for you. Your cat is letting you know that it is looking out for your best interests in its own special manner. Consider perhaps your cat has a sense of smell that you don’t.
It’s totally natural for your cat to groom themselves after you’ve finished caressing them. They might just be going through their normal grooming routines or connecting with you.
However, if their grooming is accompanied by other unusual or aggressive actions, they may be agitated or overstimulated. As with any unexpected or changing behaviour, see a veterinarian to ensure that your cat is happy and healthy.
Leave your questions in the comments section below.
09-03-2021 · Licking while being petted could mean a number of things for your cat. Find out what they are telling you with our complete guide to this cat behavior.
Cats engage in many behaviors that can leave us scratching our heads and wondering what’s going on. If you’ve found that your cat is doing something you can’t explain, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong, though it could be an indication of an underlying issue. Really, the only thing for sure is that we don’t always understand the subtle signs our pets are giving us.
One behavior that often throws cat owners off when is licking during or shortly after petting. If your cat tends to lick itself or the air while you pet it or immediately after, you might be worried that your cat doesn’t like your attention or that something else is wrong. In truth, you might not be far off, but it depends on the cat. In reality, there could be several explanations for your cat’s behavior. Once we explore them, you’ll have a better understanding of why your cat is licking when you pet it.
1. Mutual Grooming
We’ll start with the most satisfying possibility first. If you have multiple cats, you may have noticed that they tend to groom each other simultaneously. It’s quite possible that your cat is simply trying to return the favor when you groom it by grooming you at the same time.
2. An Itch You Can’t Scratch
Another common reason for licking during petting is that you’re triggering a reaction by petting or scratching an area they can’t reach during self-grooming. Your cat has a deep desire to groom all over. Those areas they can’t reach are generally the dirtiest and itchiest areas since they don’t get cleaned regularly. When you touch one of those areas, your cat might simply lick at whatever part of its body can be reached since it can’t get at the part you’re touching.
3. Underlying Skin Conditions
Your cat might be feeling uncomfortable with your touch because of some type of underlying skin condition. Several causes could be the culprit, including mites, fleas, or even allergies. If your cat reacts very harshly to your touch, it might be something as serious as feline hyperesthesia syndrome. This condition causes your cat’s skin to be incredibly sensitive, which means petting them could be quite painful.
4. They Might Not Like It
The final option is that your cat simply doesn’t like it when you pet them. This is probably not what you want to hear, but it is a possibility. Not all cats like to be touched, and you might just have a finicky feline who doesn’t want to be pet. Or, it might be that your cat doesn’t want to be touched in certain places. Petting in other areas might not induce the same response.
What to Do if Your Cat Licks While You Pet It
It may not be an indicator of anything bad, but you do want to know what it means when your cat displays this type of behavior. So, you need to do some detective work. First, check your cat’s body over gently and ensure there are no signs of any skin conditions that might make them uncomfortable. A veterinarian check-up might be necessary.
Also, try petting your cat in different places and see if the reaction is the same. It might just be the area you’re petting. If your cat leans into while petting in a different area, they probably like it. So, look for the subtle signs that can clue you into what your cat is feeling.
It can be alarming when our pets start exhibiting behaviors we don’t understand or care for. But these behaviors can often offer us clues into how our pets feel about our actions. They can’t speak to us, so it’s up to us to look for these signs and glean what information we can. If your cat is licking you or itself when you pet it, it may not mean anything is wrong. But it’s worth looking into to ensure your cat is healthy and happy and you’re not doing anything accidentally that’s causing it discomfort.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
17-01-2021 · Licking is a normal part of a cat’s grooming routine but it can be a cause for alarm when she is licking and biting herself too much. Cats may lick and bite themselves if they have fleas or allergies. They can also behave that way if they have obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress or dry skin.
Licking themselves is part of any normal cat’s life especially since they are meticulous groomers. They may also lick their nose, bum and genitals. However, if your cat is excessively grooming herself and licking but also biting her fur and body parts, it could be a cause for alarm.
Cat licking and biting self: What are the reasons?
These are the possible reasons why your cat is licking and biting herself:
1. Your cat has fleas.
If you notice your cat licking a particular spot in her fur profusely and chomping or biting at it, your cat may have fleas. This behavior is often accompanied by low growls and could indicate discomfort and pain because of the flea bites. Prevent your cat from having flea allergy dermatitis and other related conditions by treating her with flea medication like Frontline or Revolution which is also effective against ear mites, deer ticks and heartworms. Cheristin is another potent flea treatment especially if you live in a bad flea region where most fleas are resistant to medication.
2. She has allergies.
Your cat may also be licking and biting herself because she has allergies. She could be allergic to food and cleaning products. Her allergies could be giving her considerable discomfort. Here are the common signs of allergies in cats:
To relieve your cat’s allergy try to give her fatty acid supplements and medication like Benadryl or Cetirizine. Consult your vet first.
3. Your cat could be suffering from a mental health condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.
Cats also experience mental health problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder that may result in them licking and biting themselves excessively. It is characterized by repetitive and exaggerated behavior that seems to be without a purpose such as vocalization, compulsive pacing, sucking, chewing on fabric and excessive grooming. This disorder could become a fixed behavior and tends to reinforce itself due to the release of pain-relieving chemicals in a cat’s brain.
Some of the causes of OCD may include stress due to changes in a cat’s environment and confinement and and mental disorder. Do not punish your cat if she manifests compulsive behavior and consult your vet if you notice behavioral changes.
4. Your cat is bored or stressed.
Are you always away during the day? If your cat is left alone and has a sedentary routine she may get bored and stressed. Not having an enriched environment makes your cat lick and bite herself as well as overgroom to burn excess energy.
Stress could also lead cats to lick and bite themselves. Causes of stress include home relocation, a sudden change in a cat’s environment or routine and new family members or pets at home. To avoid stress and anxiety, allot playtime with your cat and maintain her health.
Provide a litter box in strategic areas at home and create a peaceful mealtime. Pheromones like Feliway can also help alleviate cat stress.
Your cat could also be licking and biting herself because of feline hyperesthesia syndrome, she has dry skin due to weather or nutritional inadequacies or because she is experiencing pain and discomfort in a particular spot of her body. She may also seem to be licking and biting herself but your cat is actually just pulling her fur through her teeth like a comb to remove mats and dirt.
Why does my cat lick himself until he bleeds?
If a cat licks himself until he bleeds due to overgrooming she may have an anxiety problem. Felines tend to manifest stress and anxiety when there are sudden changes in their environment, a recent move to a new home, loud noises, a new family member addition or if you moved her litter box or furniture in your home. When a cat licks itself until it bleeds, it may result in hair loss and skin sores.
Have you noticed your cat compulsively licking his tail until it bleeds? It could be a sign of flea infestation while cats with allergies may lick their backs, abdomens and other areas of the bodies excessively.
Why does my cat act like something is biting her?
Your cat acts like something is biting her because she is feeling discomfort and pain. The culprit could be something that is not easily noticeable. Your cat may suddenly bite her fur on her back, belly or tail for no obvious reasons at all. This could also be attributed to obsessive-compulsive disorder as well stress and anxiety. Without fully knowing it, your cat may be suffering from skin problems due to inhalant and food allergies or bacterial yeast infection.
What does it mean when a cat licks itself in front of you?
A cat typically licks itself in front of you to clean off scents which can happen right after you pet or pick her up. She may also be annoyed that you touched her and she is licking herself in front of you because she does not like the scent you left on her fur.
Licking is a normal part of a cat’s grooming routine but it can be a cause for alarm when she is licking and biting herself too much. Cats may lick and bite themselves if they have fleas or allergies. They can also behave that way if they have obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress or dry skin.
Image: istockphoto.com / Konstantin Aksenov
Nausea, pain, or discomfort can lead to licking. In Bambu’s case, we discovered that inflammatory bowel disease was the cause of her licking. If your cat’s licking is excessive or just started recently, take them to be evaluated by your …
When I adopted Bambu, my adorable orange kitty with arguably the world’s poofiest tail, I was immediately taken aback by the extent of her licking. I left all of our snuggle sessions with my hands, arms, and face covered in kitty saliva.
Like many other cat parents, I set out to understand why cats lick us. Here’s some insight on cat licking—whether it means that your cat likes you or there’s an issue that you need to get checked out.
Is It Normal For Cats to Lick You?
Cats spend up to 8% of their waking time grooming (and 50% napping), so licking in general is a normal behavior for cats.1
Anyone who has been tongue-bathed by a cat will agree that a cat’s tongue is less like a soft sponge and more like a sandpaper loofah. This is because your cat’s tongue is covered in hundreds of tiny, firm, backward-facing spines called papillae. These spines help remove dirt and loose fur from your cat’s hair coat and cover the fur in saliva to keep your cat cool.2
Why Do Cats Lick You?
Scientists have not fully figured out the reason why cats lick people, but here are several possible theories.
Your cat is expressing her affection for you.
Your cat’s licking may be an affiliative behavior, which is a friendly, altruistic behavior. Mothers groom their kittens, and cats may groom one another, which is called allogrooming. This grooming strengthens their social bonds, so your cat may groom you to nurture your relationship.
Your cat is seeking attention.
Your cat may have learned very quickly that licking gets attention, as you have likely inadvertently rewarded your cat’s licking by talking to, petting, or in some way interacting with them when they lick you. Some cats even find negative attention, like being reprimanded or pushed away, to be better than no attention.
Your cat is identifying you as part of their group.
Cats communicate by marking objects and other animals with their scents, and one reason why mother cats lick their kittens may be to create a familiar group scent. Similarly, your cat may lick you as a way of identifying you.
Your cat is displaying kitten-related behavior.
Kittens knead and suckle when nursing. If your cat was weaned too early, they may have started licking you as a way to seek the comfort reminiscent of nursing. In this case, your cat may also knead and purr as they lick you.
Your cat likes your taste.
Your cat may lick your skin or hair to investigate interesting scents or odors, like an appetizing lotion, shampoo, or other topical product. Human perspiration also contains sugar and salts that cats may find appealing.
Your cat is anxious.
Licking may represent a displacement behavior, which is a behavior that a cat performs to alleviate stress. Stress more commonly leads to excessive self-grooming, but the licking may be directed toward you, too.
Determine if there are any triggers for the licking, like visitors in your home or loud noises. If your cat’s anxiety is left untreated, the licking may progress to a compulsive behavior, at which point the licking takes over your cat’s life.
Your cat has a medical issue.
Your cat may lick you and/or objects in the environment due to a medical problem. Nausea, pain, or discomfort can lead to licking. In Bambu’s case, we discovered that inflammatory bowel disease was the cause of her licking. If your cat’s licking is excessive or just started recently, take them to be evaluated by your veterinarian.
Is It Safe to Let Your Cat Lick You?
Accepting a bath from your cat is usually safe, but there are some potential risks. Cats carry bacteria in their mouths, which can lead to local or systemic infection if a cat licks an open wound. Immunocompromised people are most at risk. Acquiring a disease from your cat is very rare, but to be safe, don’t let your cat lick your face or any cuts on your skin.
Some medical ointments may also be harmful to your cat when licked. If you apply any products to your skin or hair, inform your veterinarian to determine whether the product may be potentially dangerous to your feline.
How To Stop a Cat From Licking You
Whatever the cause of your cat’s licking, you may find the licking uncomfortable or even annoying.
Never use punishment, including scolding, squirting water, shaking a jar of coins, or applying bitter-tasting spray. This may compromise your bond with your cat and may make your cat more anxious, which may exacerbate your cat’s licking.
Here are some tips to minimize the licking:
Cover your skin with long-sleeved clothing or a small towel when you interact with them, and provide a food puzzle or toy.
When your cat starts licking, get up and walk away. If your cat is licking for attention, ignoring the licking should cause the behavior to subside. Don’t ignore your cat completely, but only when they lick you. If it does not stop after a week, there is likely another motivation for the licking that needs to be addressed, and you should talk to your vet.
Try tossing a cat toy or treat away from you. When your cat follows the toy or food, then you can get up and walk away.
When your cat interacts with you without licking, reinforce the behavior by rewarding them with praise, petting, or play.
Give your cat plenty of environmental enrichment. There is never too much! Purchase a variety of toys, hide all but 5-6 toys, and rotate them every few days to create novelty. Provide vertical spaces such as cat trees and perches, along with other hiding places for your cat, and devote at least 15 minutes to interacting with your cat three times daily.
If your cat’s licking persists or is excessive, then they should be evaluated by your veterinarian to ensure there isn’t a medical or emotional disorder underlying it.
1. Eckstein RA and Hart BJ. (2000). The organization and control of grooming in cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 68(2):131-140.
2. Noel AC and Hu DL. (2018). Cats use hollow papillae to wick saliva into fur. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1809544115.
Featured Image: iStock.com/sdominick
Why Cats Knead
What Does It Mean if My Cat Grooms Me? Cats are social animals. They lick their people as a display of affection and trust, the way they would lick littermates or their mother. …
When it comes to personal hygiene, cats are the epitome of cleanliness. They are naturally equipped with the implements to groom themselves: a barbed tongue with which to lick, forepaws they moisten with saliva and use as a surrogate washcloth, and teeth to dig out tougher debris. Believe it or not, adult cats may spend as much as half of their waking hours grooming themselves, their relatives and friends.
The Onset of Grooming
Mothers begin licking their kittens, right after birth, to clean them, stimulate them to release urine and feces, rouse them to suckle, and provide comfort. Kittens usually begin grooming themselves when they are about 4 weeks old. At 5 weeks of age, kittens also begin grooming their littermates, as well as their mom. Mutual grooming amongst littermates, called allogrooming, often continues into adulthood. Allogrooming is a social activity that serves to strengthen the bond between cats.
If you’ve ever watched a cat groom her face, you’ve probably noticed the highly stereotyped manner in which she does it: first saliva is applied to the inside of one paw, then, using an upward circular motion, the cat begins rubbing her nose with her paw from back to front. The cat will then reapply saliva to that paw and, using semi-circular motions, groom behind the corresponding ear, the back of the ear, the forehead and over the eye. When finished with one side, the process is repeated with the other paw on the other side of the head. After the head is clean, the cat grooms the front legs, shoulders, flanks, anogenital area, hind legs, and tail with long strokes of the tongue. The order of body parts may vary, and not all of these areas are necessarily groomed in one sitting.
It comes as no surprise to anyone that grooming has hygienic benefits. It helps eliminate parasites, keep the cat’s coat clean and smooth, cool the cat down through evaporation of saliva, and stimulate glands attached to hair roots that secrete substances to keep hair water-proofed. However, grooming can also have psychological benefits. A cat may groom to temporarily reduce conflict, frustration, or anxiety. Under these conditions, licking becomes what is called a “displacement behavior.” Displacement behavior can occur when an animal is motivated to perform two or more conflicting behaviors simultaneously. Unable to do so, a third behavior arises that is out of context with the situation. For example, during a social conflict a cat that feels threatened may be conflicted between running from its attacker and fighting. Caught in a bind, the cat decides to groom instead! Grooming appears to calm and reassure the cat.
Over-grooming, in the form of excessive licking, biting, nibbling, chewing, or sucking the coat or skin, with no underlying medical cause, is typically indicative of stress. Common causes of feline stress are: fear, lack of stimulation, isolation, new pet in the household, move to a new household, separation anxiety, or in some cases early weaning. Over-grooming becomes problematic when it results in self-inflicted injury (hair thinning, removal of complete tufts of hair, skin infections), a condition called “Psychogenic Alopecia.” This diagnosis is made when no underlying medical condition can be detected. In some cases, excessive grooming can start in response to a skin irritation (fleas, allergies, infections), but it can escalate into a behavioral problem even though the condition has cleared. It is thought that the grooming behaviors become self-reinforcing by reducing anxiety. The grooming actions become repetitive, called “stereotypies,” that may come and go, depending on the cat’s current level of stress.
What Does It Mean if My Cat Grooms Me?
Cats are social animals. They lick their people as a display of affection and trust, the way they would lick littermates or their mother. They also may lick to taste any substance that is on your skin, such as salt.
Should You Groom Your Cat?
If your cat enjoys being brushed or combed then I encourage you to do so. Grooming your cat can serve to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Grooming can also help you screen your cat for any problems that may be developing on the skin. However, many cats do not take fondly to being groomed by any tools but their own, so if you value your own safety, it’s best to leave these cats to take care of the job themselves! If your cat is prone to hairballs, matting fur, or excessive shedding, you may need to leave the grooming to a professional groomer.
'Why do cats lick themselves?' is a common question raised by most cat owners. When it comes to grooming and cleanliness, cats are undoubtedly the champions. With their barbed tongue, forepaws, and teeth, a cat spends about 50% of its day either licking and grooming itself or another companion. This makes them the masters of cleanliness, and a lot of people prefer a cat over other …
'Why do cats lick themselves?' is a common question raised by most cat owners. When it comes to grooming and cleanliness, cats are undoubtedly the champions. With their barbed tongue, forepaws, and teeth, a cat spends about 50% of its day either licking and grooming itself or another companion. This makes them the masters of cleanliness, and a lot of people prefer a cat over other pets due to this reason. However, some cats tend to take their grooming jobs too seriously until it becomes an obsession.
The Beginning of Grooming
For cats, grooming starts from the moment they are born. Right after a kitten is born, the mother cat licks her kitten to clean her up by removing the amniotic sac, thereby giving comfort. Licking encourages breathing in the newborn kitten and helps in discharging urine and stool. It also stimulates the kitten to suckle. By the time the kitten is around four weeks old, she has already figured out and mastered the art of grooming herself. By the fifth week, the kitten will take her grooming and licking on her mother and her littermates apart from herself. Littermate grooming is also known as allogrooming, which a cat carry with it to adulthood. Allogrooming unifies cats by strengthening their bond.
But why do cats lick themselves so much? The primary reason here is cleanliness. But in addition to cleanliness, there are several factors that influence licking in cats. Let us discuss them below.
When little kitty is injured, she will lick her wounds to clean and stave off infection. The rough texture of her tongue also works well in removing dead skin cells.
Your little kitty's nose is fourteen times more sensitive than a human's nose. Most of their prey is tracked down by their scent. A wild cat will lick herself and her kitten clean after feeding to conceal their scent and keep themselves safe from predators.
Grooming and Lubricating
A cat's tongue acts like a natural comb to brush off parasites and dirt. A cat does not have sweat glands like a human being. The action of licking keeps them cool during summer.
Licking For Fun
Just like scratching, licking is another innate behavior of cats. You will often see your cat licking her body and her face, which we like to regard as bathing. Not only will they groom themselves, but they will also lick their companions or kittens.
Obsessive Grooming - Why Do Cats Lick Themselves So Much?
We have seen a number of reasons why cats lick themselves. How many times do cats lick themselves? If we talk in terms of numbers, your furball typically spends 30-50% of their time licking and grooming themselves. In a day, your cat will sleep for approximately 15 hours. During their waking time, normal cats will spend about 10% of their time grooming themselves, which can equal roughly one hour in total.
Although it is quite normal behavior, sometimes a cat will get obsessed with licking and resort to excessive grooming. Grooming too much can result in hair loss and skin rashes. If you notice your pet licking and grooming herself a little too much, you might want to keep a check on her health. A stressed cat will be more prone to licking just as some stressed humans resort to nail-biting and hair-pulling. A change in situations and environments usually inflicts stress. A cat likes familiarity and will find it challenging to adapt to new changes. Any type of change, such as a new baby, a new pet, or a new house, can trigger stress and cats leading to obsessive licking.
Another reason for excessive grooming is when a kitten is prematurely taken away from its mother. The kitten will try to make up for the deprived weaning period by excessive self-grooming. However, this habit can gradually lessen over time as the cat matures in a safe environment.
The Relationship Between Licking and Eating
You may see your fluffy cat licking their forepaws after meals. But why lick themselves after meals? After all, they did not touch their food with their paws. So why do cats lick themselves after eating?
As mentioned above, cats are the masters of cleanliness. So they are often more clean than their food. Some food, especially wet food, may splatter and leave stains and smell around their mouth, whiskers, face, and even on their forepaws. Your neat and tidy cat cannot tolerate this type of mess, and they will not stop until they are licked clean.
Equipped with natural cleaning gears, a cat will lick itself with its barbed tongue on every part of the body it can reach. While licking, their saliva helps in dampening their fur, which in turn loosens the dirt particles.
Cats are known for their flexibility. Their tongue can reach almost every part of their body, but there are some parts of the body where they cannot reach. These parts include their face, ears, and the back of their head. To reach these parts, they use their front paws as a sort of washcloth to wipe them clean.
It is amusing to watch a cat during its cleaning ritual. First, your cat will lick its paws, dampening it for use. Then she will lift the damp paw on her face or on the area that needs to be cleaned. This is a repetitive process. She will continue this action until she feels it is cleaned enough. When your cat finishes the face washing ritual, she will top it off by licking and cleaning her paws, which she had used to clean the dirt on her face.
Keep a close watch on your kitty when she eats. You may see her licking even before and during eating. So the answer to the question 'why do cats lick themselves after eating?' is that it is washing up after its meal, a good habit that can be followed by their owners.
Feline self-licking or air licking is believed to be the same kind of reaction, particularly among cats who suffer from skin-related allergies, external parasite infestations or other itchy conditions. Cats Who Can Do Without Getting Pets
The first thing we need to keep in mind is that when a cat itches, they are likely to lick themselves. Licking is also a normal behavior, but if your cat is overgrooming, then we need to pay attention. The cat's tongue is very rough which is useful when they need to get rid of tough dirt. When it is used excessively, it can cause damage to their skin and coat.
See files for Cats
A cat scratching itself is a normal and healthy behavior. If we had the dexterity of most cats, we'd be scratching just as much. However, as with any behavior, when it becomes excessive it signals a problem. If your cat won't stop scratching, the first thing we might think of is a skin problem. However, there are many reasons why your cat might be scratching. Sometimes these are minor and will resolve on their own. If they don't we need to see a veterinarian, especially if they scratch their skin raw.
In this AnimalWised article, we explain the possible reasons why your cat is scratching itself raw. This is not a replacement for a veterinary diagnosis, but it can help you know what to expect when your cat scratches too much.
The first thing we need to keep in mind is that when a cat itches, they are likely to lick themselves. Licking is also a normal behavior, but if your cat is overgrooming, then we need to pay attention. The cat's tongue is very rough which is useful when they need to get rid of tough dirt. When it is used excessively, it can cause damage to their skin and coat.
When a cat licks or scratches themselves too much, they can cause hair thinning, hair loss and even skin injury. This is what is meant by a cat scratching themselves raw. The extent of the damage shows the extent of the problem. Localized hair loss may mean one thing, but general skin damage means there is a serious issue.
Itching in cats can be due to various dermatological problems. However, this is not always the case. When the cat has an allergy or intolerance to food, one symptom which can manifest is inflammation to the skin. This leads to the cat scratching themselves. Other additional symptoms will likely included gastrointestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. To treat the problem, we need to identify the food causing the reaction and remove it from their diet.
We provide preventive medicine to our cats in the form of vaccinations and deworming treatment. The latter happens from the beginning of life because they are prone to parasitical infestation. The most widespread are fleas. They are blood sucking insects which bite to feed on the blood. This agitates the skin which makes the cat scratch.
With a severe flea infestation, the cat will keep scratching the skin until it is raw. There are many other external parasites in cats such as ticks which will lead to similar problems.
Additionally, some cats will have an allergic reaction to flea saliva or that of other parasites. In these cases, the bite itself triggers a reaction and causes the cat to itch severely. This can result in flea bite allergy dermatitis. Cats with this problem not only itch, but they develop lesions in the neck and lumbosacral areas. If you see your cat has raw skin in these areas, it could be this problem. After time your cat will have scabs which need attention from a veterinarian.
Fungal and yeast infections
Fungi, such as those which cause ringworm, do not usually cause itching at first. It is only over time once the infection has developed that the picture becomes more complicated. Ringworm is one which causes redness of the skin in particular. The cat will develop round lesions which are typical of the condition. The skin will often become red and flaky. Other fungal infections can cause this problem.
Yeast bacteria such as Malassezia can also lead to itching, as well as lesions, redness, peeling, scabs, bad odor and thickening of the skin. In these cases, injuries can appear anywhere on the body. It is necessary to see the veterinarian to identify the specific pathogens and prescribe the correct course of treatment. We cannot treat this on our own.
Does your cat scratch their face or eye a lot? It is a very common issue, especially with very young cats. Although problems mentioned above can lead to this issue, there are usually some specific issues which affect the head. When a cat keeps scratching their eyes, nose and ears, it can result in hair loss, but also risks damaging these sensitive areas.
If the cat scratches their eye a lot, it is possibly due to conjunctivitis which is one of the most common diseases in cats. In this case, you will see inflammation of the eyes and it may even start weeping. A foreign object will also cause similar problems and it is more likely to occur in the one eye. If the cat is unable to remove the object and/or the problem does not improve, you will need to take them to the vet.
Another sign of the presence a foreign body is when the cat scratches their nose a lot. In these cases, it is possible something has entered their nasal passage and won't come out. This often happens with pieces of plant material, but it can even be caused by dirt. They usually come out with sneezing, but if something is really stuck, we need to see a vet.
If your cat scratches their ear a lot, they may have an infection. In these cases, we may be able to smell a foul odor emanating form the ear. This is due to inflammation from the infection. The problem, is often further down in the ear canal, so we can't always see it at first. The cat scratching their ear a lot may be the first thing which draws our attention to the problem. If the skin becomes raw, it is very advanced. The cause of ear problems in cats is often from ear mites.
In the minority of cases, it is possible the underlying problem is a more serious condition. These could be due to immune realted problems such as feline AIDS or, much less frequently, due to a tumor. With so many different causes of scratching their skin raw, we cannot diagnose the problem ourselves. Often the same symptoms will present for completely different causes. We need to go to a veterinarian to diagnose the problem and provide the right course of treatment. If we don't, we may make the problem worse.
Treatment for a cat scratching their skin raw will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if the problem is due to a food allergy, we need to determine the type of food. This may take a prolonged trial and error process, but a veterinarian may have some better diagnostic tests for some of the most common food allergies in cats. If these are not available or do not find any results, an elimination diet will likely be implemented, depending on the severity of the allergy. Once the food is identified, we can remove it from their diet permanently.
If the cat scratches a lot because they have a parasitical infestation, treatment involves administering the correct antiparasitic products for the specific parasite. These can be administered in tablet, solution, pipette and other preparations.
When something more serious such as an immune disease or cancer is leading to the scratching, we need to visit the specialist. They will provide the right diagnostic tests, set out the treatment program and, importantly, provide a prognosis. Ignoring these problems or self-medicating them can be fatal.
If we see our cat is scratching or licking a lot, but there are no other visible symptoms, it is possible the issue is psychological. This is much less frequent, but it does happen. The veterinarian will usually be able to discern if the problem is psychological once physical possibilities have been ruled out.
What we see when a cat keeps scratching, especially when the skin becomes raw and they don't stop, might be due to compulsive grooming. This a response to stress. In these cases, there is no physical itching, but the anxiety from which the cat is suffering makes them feel like they need to do something. The result might be alopecia (hair loss) or even broken skin. The initial treatment will be for the skin damage. This may include antibiotics for cats to treat any secondary infection. After this, we will need to treat the psychological damage which may require the help of an ethologist.
Cats are animals which are very susceptible to change. Practically any change in their routine can trigger a serious stress problem. In these cases, they may develop constant scratching which eventually will cause skin damage if not stopped. Check out our article on reasons why your cat is stressed to learn more.
As we have seen, if a cat scratches a lot it is necessary to go to the vet. We cannot diagnose the problem, nor are there any magic cures which will make them go away. When these are very serious underlying health problems, we will need to ensure a comprehensive treatment plan.
However, there are things we can do at home which will help prevent the problem of a cat scratching too much and making their skin raw. These include:
- Deworming: even when a cat does not have access to the outside, it is possible they will get parasites such as fleas. This is why a regular deworming schedule is so vital.
- Quality food: when a cat is denied proper nutrition, their general health will suffer. This can most often be seen in the deterioration of their coat. A proper diet of quality food will boost their immune system and help them to naturally fend of diseases which may cause them to scratch too much.
- Environmental enrichment: cats need a space in which they can carry out their daily activities. They also need to be cognitively stimulated regularly. If not, they can become stressed and may scratch themselves as a result. They will also need their cat impulses met. This means hunting, climbing high and scratching their claws. By providing accessories to help them do these things, we can help prevent problem behavior.
- Cat specific products: do not bathe the cat with products for humans and do not give human medication to cats.
- Veterinary checkups: compulsive licking and scratching will worsen over time. Ensuring we go to the veterinarian as soon as we see a sign of a problem is important. However, we should also take the cat for regular checkups to ensure their well-being.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat is Scratching Itself Raw, we recommend you visit our Skin problems category.
- Bars, Juan. (2003). Veterinary Clinical Dermatology .
Videos related to My Cat is Scratching Itself Raw
Cats' over-grooming is often caused by stress and may be likened to humans' habit of biting their nails to the quick. Cats, in general, intensely dislike change of any kind. A new baby, a death in the family, even the rearranging of furniture, could be the trigger for this obsessive grooming. Physical causes might include flea bites or ringworm, so it is necessary to rule those out before diagnosing a …
Quite a few pet owners choose cats over dogs because "cats are so clean." And it's true: a normal cat can spend as much as 50% of their waking time grooming itself (or another cat). As a result, cats are typically very clean animals, though in some cases grooming can become a form of obsession.
The mother cat's first job after giving birth is to remove the amniotic sac, then lick the kitten with her rough tongue to help stimulate its breathing. Later, when the kitten begins nursing, she will give the kitten's anus a "tongue massage" to help stimulate a bowel movement.
Kittens, emulating their mothers, start self-grooming by the time they're a few weeks old. If they are part of a litter, they are likely to lick and groom one another as well.
Outside of simple cleanliness, grooming has a number of purposes. Here are some of the most important.
Cats wash their injuries to cleanse the wounds, and possibly to prevent infection. Licking with a rough tongue can also remove dead skin cell.
Cats' sense of smell is fourteen times more powerful than that of humans. Most predators, including cats, track prey through scent. A mother cat in the wild will try to hide her young kittens by removing evidence of their feeding. She will wash herself and them thoroughly after nursing. For the same reason, cats will bury uneaten dead prey in the wild. You may observe that same instinctual behavior when you see a cat scratching at the floor around the food dish after eating.
When cats groom, their barb-like tongues stimulate the sebaceous glands at the base of their hairs and spread the resultant sebum throughout the hairs. Their self-grooming also helps rid the coat of dirt and parasites such as fleas. Further, since cats do not have sweat glands, their saliva somewhat helps them cool down on hot days.
Grooming feels good, and cats do seem to groom just because they enjoy it. They will also groom one another (and their human friends) out of what certainly appears to be a desire to share a positive sensation
Grooming to excess can become an obsessive-compulsive behavior which can lead to bald patches and skin sores.
Cats' over-grooming is often caused by stress and may be likened to humans' habit of biting their nails to the quick. Cats, in general, intensely dislike change of any kind. A new baby, a death in the family, even the rearranging of furniture, could be the trigger for this obsessive grooming. Physical causes might include flea bites or ringworm, so it is necessary to rule those out before diagnosing a stress response.
Cats who were taken away from their mothers at a very early age were not allowed the normal weaning period, and will often self-groom by licking or sucking. This behavior will usually lessen and disappear over time when the kitten is kept in a safe and predictable environment.
04-03-2019 · Ever noticed your cat closely through the day? Did you check the number of times your cat will be clicking itself? That’s the cat way of taking a bath!
Ever noticed your cat closely through the day? Did you check the number of times your cat will be clicking itself? That’s the cat way of taking a bath!
Many cat owners are confused as to why cats are such clean freaks? Why does your cat bathe itself?
They will stay indoors all the time and yet will lick their entire body at times. But what it is that prompts them to clean their body all over time and again? Today we will take a closer look at this habit of cats that keeps many cat owners bewildered when they think about it.
Why does your cat bathe itself ?
The process of the cat licking its entire body can easily be called as a bathing process. Unlike us humans, they prefer bathing themselves in their own saliva. However gross it might sound, it is perfectly normal for a cat. Moreover, it is also quite an important task as we will see shortly.
Now let us see why your cat cleans itself so much all through the day.
Cat bathe itself reason 1
Cats are extremely neat and clean and licking themselves is a way of maintaining their cleanliness. After all, cleanliness is next to Godliness!
Cats leave their scent on any place they inhabit. It is a way of marking their territory.
And, how do they do it?
Simply by rubbing their body on those areas. In order to do it they will have to ensure that their body carries the scent and licking themselves helps in doing it.
Your cat definitely loves being petted and loved. But once you are done stroking your cat you will find them licking their body. It’s simply to get rid of the human body smell and make sure that their own body smell remains, no offence meant towards you!
Here’s a fun fact, your cat even leaves its smell on you. it sure is possessive about its hooman!
Cats lick themselves to keep their body cool and fresh. It is quite similar to why we take bath. The body becomes clean and as the saliva evaporates it decreases the overall body temperature. It is a great way to make sure that they remain clean as well as cool, even during the hot days.
Do not forget that the cat’s body is covered with fur which will trap some amount of heat at all times. Licking their body helps in maintaining the body temperature.
There is an important property of the cat saliva. It stimulates the root of the cat’s hairs to release a substance that will keep the cat waterproof.
Now if that isn’t a superpower, I don’t know what is! Can you even imagine licking yourself and making your body waterproof? Well, cats are definitely a wonder in that way.
Licking their body helps cat reduce stress. This is quite important for any living being. Stress is a bad influence and reducing stress helps the cat remain in better health.
Cats even lick themselves while they are having a fight. Quite an interesting way to reduce stress I will say! What do you think?
So, do you still think self-licking is a stupid thing to do? I guess not! Wish us humans could do the same!
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01-12-2017 · Reasons why “my cat licks itself a lot” In those cases in which there are reasons behind our grooming above and beyond our personal cleanliness, you should know that the reasons causing us to lick ourselves too much are nothing more than boredom, anxiety or stress, disorders such as a bladder infection or some allergy.
Humans, by now you should know that we cats spend hours and hours grooming ourselves. It’s completely normal for us to lick our bodies to get ourselves good and clean and in good condition. What’s more, you shouldn’t worry if you notice us spending 6 to 12 hours a day on our personal grooming, because that’s what we normally do. You should only devote some special attention to us if you find that our licking is resulting in little sore place on our skin or bald spots on our tummy, legs or back.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard somebody at my veterinarian’s office say “My cat licks itself a lot, is that normal?” Well, yes, it is normal. Besides our being territorial, overbearing, somewhat affectionate depending on the person in question, and independent, we cats are very clean animals and we just love to groom ourselves.
But going back now to the crux of the matter, if you notice us licking what seem to be irritated or balding areas more than usual, besides taking us to the veterinarian to find out what’s wrong with us, there are a number of basic aspects that will help you make us feel better in no time and get us back to being ourselves again.
Reasons why “my cat licks itself a lot”
In those cases in which there are reasons behind our grooming above and beyond our personal cleanliness, you should know that the reasons causing us to lick ourselves too much are nothing more than boredom, anxiety or stress, disorders such as a bladder infection or some allergy.
As far as bladder infections and allergies are concerned, your veterinarian will be the one to tell you what medicines we have to take to get better and how to help us stop hurting and/or itching.
Otherwise, if the only thing wrong is that we are simply bored or stressed, the only thing you should do to get us to stop licking ourselves too much is to pay more attention to us. Don’t make any sudden changes in the furniture in your home, buy us a good cat scratcher that has several levels where we can hole up and feel safe while we keep watch over what’s going on in our surroundings. Play with us a little longer over the course of the day… In short, make us your centre of attention.
So now you know, if you’re one of those humans who’s always wondering whether your cat is licking itself too much, pay close attention and make sure that it’s licking itself just enough to groom itself as it should. Meow!
Cats actually lick themselves for a lot of different reasons, and they start at a young age. Kittens learn to groom from their mothers and begin grooming when they’re only a few weeks old. (If kittens are part of a litter, they’ll start grooming their littermates too.) A mother cat will lick her kittens after giving birth to stimulate their breathing, help them learn to go to the bathroom, encourage them …
Have you ever noticed your cat sitting there grooming herself all day long and wondered what that’s all about?
It turns out that cats actually have a bunch of reasons for licking themselves.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Zay Satchu, cofounder and chief veterinary officer at Bond Vet in New York City, to find out why cats are so obsessed with grooming — and the answer might actually surprise you.
Why do cats groom themselves?
Cats actually lick themselves for a lot of different reasons, and they start at a young age.
Kittens learn to groom from their mothers and begin grooming when they’re only a few weeks old. (If kittens are part of a litter, they’ll start grooming their littermates too.) A mother cat will lick her kittens after giving birth to stimulate their breathing, help them learn to go to the bathroom, encourage them to suckle and comfort them.
And while adult cats are typically very tidy animals, which explains some of the constant grooming, they clean themselves for a variety of other reasons as well.
“Many people think that cats groom to keep clean,” Dr. Satchu told The Dodo. “And while that is true, there are also many other purposes for grooming. Grooming helps cats regulate their body temperature, distribute natural oils throughout their coat, promote healthy blood circulation and ease anxiety and stress.”
To keep clean and distribute oils
Unlike dogs, who are usually a little more go-with-the-flow when it comes to hygiene, cats like to keep themselves extra clean and tidy.
Cats’ tongues are barbed (the barbs are called papillae), which lets them remove stuff that’s stuck in their fur, like dirt or fleas, basically like a built-in hair brush. (And as a bonus, the barbs on your cat’s tongue promote blood flow, similar to the way a massage does for humans.)
Licking also distributes an oil called sebum. There are sebaceous glands at the base of each hair, so when your cat licks, it spreads the oil over her fur. Sebum protects cats’ fur and makes it shiny.
To regulate body temperature
Cats don’t sweat like humans do. They only have sweat glands on the bottoms of their paws, so it’s easier for them to get overheated.
So cats lick their bodies to help themselves cool off. When they lick their fur in hot weather, the saliva evaporates, which lowers their body temperature.
To avoid predators
Cats will lick themselves after eating a meal as a survival instinct to try to avoid predators. They’ll give themselves a bath, washing away any scent of the food they ate with their saliva so predators can’t smell the prey (in your pet’s case, her cat food).
To calm anxiety
Licking can be a displacement behavior. A displacement behavior is when an animal does something out of place, usually when faced with a stressful situation. This often happens when they aren’t sure how to react to something. For example, if your cat is confronted with a conflict, like a neighbor’s dog coming into your yard, she may use grooming as a way to deal with the situation rather than running away or confronting the pup.
The act of grooming can also be super soothing to cats. If you watch your cat groom herself, you’ll probably notice that she uses the same licking pattern every time, almost like a kind of ritual. For example, every time she grooms, she might lick one paw then rub it over one ear in a circular motion, then over her nose, and then she’ll repeat the same process on the other side.
To protect against infection
Cats, like many animals, lick their wounds. And that’s because their saliva actually has properties to help fight infection. Cat saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that’s part of the immune system and has antibacterial properties.
Why do cats lick their paws?
Cats will often lick their paws as a part of their grooming routine.
Cats are pretty flexible, so they’re able to bend to lick different parts of their bodies, but some areas are hard for them to reach, like their faces and heads. Your cat will use her paws to distribute her saliva over those areas. (If you watch your cat groom herself, she’ll lick her paws then run them over her face, ears and other hard-to-reach parts of her body.)
But if your cat is just licking her paws, not her body, there could be some other reasons — especially if she does it constantly:
- An obsessive compulsive disorder
Why do cats overgroom?
While grooming is a natural behavior for your cat, Dr. Satchu warns against too much grooming.
“Overgrooming can indicate a health issue,” Dr. Satchu said. “Some of these include allergies — both environmental or food related — skin conditions, thyroid conditions, anxiety and pain or discomfort.”
If you think your cat is grooming obsessively, you should contact your vet to see if there’s something else going on.
Signs your cat is overgrooming
Cats do groom a lot (most cats spend about 30 to 50 percent of their day grooming), but if your cat has started licking herself constantly, it could be a problem.
“If the amount of grooming they're doing results in thinning of fur, bald patches or scabs/ulcerations, you should definitely reach out to your vet,” Dr. Satchu said.
Here are some common signs of overgrooming in cats:
- Hair loss
- Skin irritation
- Increase in hairballs
Treatment for excessive grooming
There are a bunch of ways to treat and prevent excessive grooming depending on the underlying cause:
- If your cat has allergies, your vet might recommend allergy medication for her.
- Keep your cat up to date on flea and parasite medication.
- Provide stimulation for your cat so she doesn’t get bored, such as cat trees and toys to play with.
- Try cat calming products to ease your cat’s anxiety.
- Keep a consistent daily routine to minimize stress, like feeding your cat at the same time every day.
Why is my cat not grooming?
Undergrooming is also a problem. if your cat isn’t grooming, it could mean that she’s sick. (Cats who are taken from their moms too early also might just not know how to groom themselves.)
Some common reasons that a cat might stop grooming are illness, old age and obesity.
Here are some signs of undergrooming:
- Dirty or matted coat
- Food stuck in her fur
- Dirty paws
If you notice your cat hasn’t been grooming herself, you should take her to the vet to find out why.
So basically, cats are super clean, but they also have a bunch of other reasons for licking themselves all the time.
But if it seems like your cat is licking herself way too much or not enough, you should get her checked out.
There’s no one reason why your cat might lick you. However, there are three main theories why domestic felines engage in this behaviour: They’re displaying they trust you. They’re accessing biochemical information from you skin. They’re marking you as another one of their possessions. The trust theory. Yes, there’s a chance a cat may lick you to show they trust you. Or least to show they …
Licking: cats are absolutely obsessed with it. In fact, research suggests an adult domestic feline can spend up to 8 per cent of their waking hours grooming their body with their tongue. Licking can also play an important social role with felines, with adults often licking each other just before copulating.
But what about humans: why do cats lick people? The good news: there’s no evidence to say your cat considers this any part of a pre-mating ritual. The bad news: scientists and cat behavioural experts aren’t completely sure why your cat might mop their little tongue against your face or hand.
However, while there’s no overarching and definitive explanation for this behaviour, there are several theories about why domestic felines lick humans. Spoiler: your cat doesn’t come off well in any of them.
There’s no one reason why your cat might lick you. However, there are three main theories why domestic felines engage in this behaviour:
- They’re displaying they trust you.
- They’re accessing biochemical information from you skin.
- They’re marking you as another one of their possessions.
The trust theory
Yes, there’s a chance a cat may lick you to show they trust you. Or least to show they don’t consider you as serious competition.
“This type of licking is similar to a cat-to-cat behaviour known as allogrooming, which is basically mutual grooming. A cat will learn this from its mother when they’re a very young blind and deaf kitten. It’s basically to clean the kitten and strengthen social bonds,” says Dr David Sands, expert in animal psychology with over 25 years of clinical experience.
Read more about cats:
“Because of these maternal origins, adult cats will only lick other cats they trust and are not in competition with. And this trusting grooming behaviour may be transferred onto a human.
“After all, cats are not sitting there saying ‘I’m a cat and you’re a human being’. To them, animals are either in competition with them or not. And licking shows you’re not in competition.”
In other words, if your cat licks you, it’s not a positive sign of attachment. It’s just not a negative one (which is as good as it gets with a cat).
If in doubt, consider the University of Lincoln study tactfully titled Domestic Cats Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners.
When swapping 20 felines and their human owners, researchers found the cats appeared to bond as well with strangers (shown through behaviours such as play and mirroring) than with their actual owners.
The researchers concluded: “These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”
The biochemical theory
While this sounds complicated, this is essentially the very simple idea that a cat will like you because they’re interested in whatever scent is on your hand.
“Cat taste buds are so sensitive – they can pick up scents from our skins that could include pheromone secretions from other animals,” says Sands.
“It could also be that you’ve got salt, moisturiser or whatever you’ve just eaten on your hand. To cats, all these are interesting scents and licking allows them to check it out. That’s simply all it might be.”
The possession play theory
Cats are, as Sands puts it, “scent machines from head to tail”. And their favourite smell? Their own. In fact, they love their own unique scent – which acts as an airborne fingerprint – so much they think it should supplant all others.
As Sands explains, this is why a cat may lick themselves after your stroke them – “it’s purely to get rid of your scent!” he says.
“So much other cat behaviour comes down to possession and ownership. Everything that they do is very territorial,” Sands adds.
“Sometimes when cats groom other cats and people they’re scraping off scents and supplanting it with their own. It’s their way of marking and saying ‘This is mine! I own you!’”
He adds: “People always think cats rubbing themselves against you or things you touch are expressing love. But actually, cats are very possessing individuals. For them, the more they can brush past you and deposit their scent, the better!”
With a doctorate in ethology (animal psychology) at Liverpool University, Sands has over 25 years experience at his animal behavioural clinic. He is a Fellow of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).
Sands is also the author of Cats 500 Questions Answered, Hamlyn, £4).
Read more about the science of cats
Of course, the most obvious reason why cats lick themselves is to clean up. Cats are naturally clean pets and enjoy keeping it that way. When cats lick themselves, they remove all the dead skin, hair, and debris and make sure their coats are nice …
Did you know that cats can spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves? But is all this time spent licking themselves all to be squeaky clean?
If you’ve ever wondered, “why do cats lick themselves?”, you’re not alone! Here, we will share some common reasons why cats lick themselves and when to keep your eyes out if you think your cat’s grooming behavior is becoming excessive.
5 Reasons Why Cats Lick Themselves
Cats are curious creatures, and we may never understand 100% of what they do. But we do understand why cats lick themselves (at least, we think we do!). Here are five reasons why your kitty may spend so much time grooming:
To Clean Themselves
Of course, the most obvious reason why cats lick themselves is to clean up. Cats are naturally clean pets and enjoy keeping it that way. When cats lick themselves, they remove all the dead skin, hair, and debris and make sure their coats are nice and clean. Licking themselves regularly can also prevent hairballs in cats because they can digest smaller amounts of fur at a time.
To Protect Themselves Against Predators
It’s not all about looks, though! Cats also lick themselves to protect against predators. Even indoor kitties with no predators tap into these instincts and groom themselves to rid their coats of any food smell or particles. Also, grooming can help reduce their scent, therefore helping them blend in with their surroundings.
To Treat Themselves
A straightforward explanation of why cats lick themselves: it feels good! It’s almost like giving themselves a full body massage throughout the day. Also, grooming can help a cat calm down if they are in a stressful situation because the act of licking themselves is soothing to them.
This calming practice is also one of the reasons why cats might lick other cats and even humans. Social grooming is their way of showing a little love!
To Spread Natural Oils
While some cats need to get bathed more frequently than others, most cats are pretty good about keeping themselves clean. Licking their fur regularly is a great way to spread natural oils throughout the coat. In addition, regular grooming also helps lubricate their skin, too. A cat’s tongue has a rough texture, which acts as a sort of skin exfoliant. This spreads natural oils throughout the cat’s skin and also rids their coat of dirt and even parasites (like fleas).
To Control Their Body Temperature
Did you know that cats don’t sweat through their skin like we do? While they can sweat through the pads of their feet, licking themselves is the main way that they can cool themselves down and maintain a normal body temperature. This works because the saliva on their skin from grooming then evaporates, which cools them off. Also, grooming helps get rid of any dead hair that might be keeping the cat too warm.
Is it Normal for a Cat to Lick Themselves?
With all these reasons, you can probably guess that yes, it’s normal for cats to lick themselves! Mother cats start licking their kittens right after they are born and this grooming behavior never goes away. It’s a great cleaning method, is relaxing to the animal, and can help them stay cool. If you’ve ever asked, “why is my cat licking me?”, it is most likely a sign of affection. Just as a mother cat licks her kittens, your cat may demonstrate similar behavior towards you.
But, there is such a thing as too much licking. Let’s look at the signs of when a cat is overgrooming, or licking themselves too much.
Is Your Cat Showing Signs of Excessive Grooming?
As you can see, the process of regularly licking is great for cats in many ways. But, there is such a thing as too much licking. Overgrooming is when a cat grooms too much and can eventually cause themselves injury. This obsessive grooming behavior can be caused by stress, anxiety, or a physical condition like an irritant on the cat’s skin.
There’s a difference between regular licking and over-licking. If you notice that your cat is just licking in one spot non-stop, rather than over their whole body, this may be a sign of overgrooming. To tell, you can carefully examine where your feline is grooming to see if you spot a rash or other irritation.
Another sign that your feline friend is licking too much is that it is interfering with their everyday activities. While cats do spend a lot of time grooming themselves, they should also spend time sleeping, playing, eating, and going to the bathroom. If you notice that your cat isn’t doing these things in favor of licking themselves, you may want to talk to your veterinarian.
One of the reasons why we love having cats as pets so much is that they are super clean and can mostly groom themselves. Cats lick themselves for a number of reasons, including to clean themselves, keep their coat and skin healthy, cool themselves down, and show care to themselves, other cats, and even humans.
1. https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/pets/7-reasons-why-cats-love-clean-themselves/#:~:text=Adult cats spend up to,of Just Cats Veterinary Services.
Why do cats lick themselves after you pet them | why cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves. A cats tongue is incredibly effective in removing dirt and debris from their coat, thanks to the papillae that cover it. Papillae are tiny spikes made of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair. They help to separate the hairs and filter out anything your kitty may have picked ...
How Much Time Do Cats Spend Grooming
Cats spend 15-50% of their time grooming themselves. Their constant licking usually isnt a cause for concern.
If you notice your cat grooming in excess, take it to the vet for a quick checkup. Your cat could be overgrooming because of allergies, parasites, skin issues, or pain, to name a few.
Plus, your kittys constant licking could be tearing out excessive amounts of hair or, if its hairless, damaging its skin.
Besides your veterinarians treatment, you can engage in frequent playtime with your cat or introduce new cat furniture to distract it from grooming. This is especially important to implement when your cat is over-licking due to behavioral issues.
Tips For How To Bathe Your Cat Or Kitten
Cats are known for their grooming habits. With their tongues, teeth, and paws, theyre usually able to keep themselves fresh and clean without any outside intervention. Sometimes, though, your cat might need help staying clean. If your feline friend is covered in something dangerous, smelly, or sticky, or if they have picked up some parasites, it might be a good idea to give them a bath. Heres how to bathe a cat with a minimal amount of stress for both of you.
1. Trim the Toenails: Your cats claws are one of their main forms of defense. An upset cat may claw anyone nearby, including you, during the course of bath time. Cat scratches can easily become infected, so its in your own best interest to trim your cats nails before attempting a bath.
2. Brush Before: Cats shed frequently, all year long. That extra fur wont be good for your plumbing, and it will make it more difficult to get your cat really clean. If you can, brush your cat thoroughly to remove any loose fur and mats before you begin the bathing process. You can also put cotton balls gently in their ears to keep water out.
3. Time It Right: Cats generally dont like to be in water. A cat thats full of energy is going to object more strongly to a bath. Schedule the bath for a time when your cat is tired and mellow, such as after a long play session with a cat dancer or some catnip. If you can schedule your cats bath so someone else is around to help you out, even better.
9. Dry Thoroughly:
Do Not Let Your Cat Know That He Is About To Be Bathed
You must sneak up on the cat, kidnap him, and smuggle him into the bathroom where you will lock the doors, barricade him in, and then turn on the water. If there are any cats to be bathed after this one, make sure you turn music on very loudly to drown out the screaming that is sure to be coming from not only your cat, but most likely you as well. You wouldnt want to tip off your next victims. I mean other cats.
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The Best Brush For Cats
Brushing before bathing is helpful to prevent mats and tangles in your cat’s fur. We’ve found that the Furbliss silicone brushes are among the best options for just about any cat. They come in a variety sizes and styles, so there’s one for every cat, regardless of their size and amount of fur they have. Each brush has two sides for different purposes: a brush side for combing and grooming, plus a finer side that’s great for de-shedding.
Since they’re made of silicone, they’re soft, easy to use, and cats actually enjoy the massaging feeling of being brushed. Plus, they can be washed under running water or sterilized in the dishwasher. This also means you can use them in the bath to shampoo your cat and de-tangle their fur as they’re being bathed.
For more brush choices, check out “Tips for Brushing Your Cat” article.
Showering With Your Cat Is Not A Smart Idea
I promise you that enclosing yourself in an enclosed space where your feline companion cannot run is not a fun solution to physically restraining your pet in the bathtub.
My cat freaked out at the water rushing beneath him into the drain and tried to mount me like a tree, so I learned the hard way.
Thankfully, Ive blocked out much of the experience, but I do recall shouting at my boyfriend, GET IT OFF OF ME, and pacing around for the next week feeling like Id fought a squirrel.
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Why Do Cats Lick Their Front Paws Thoroughly After Eating
Typically this is done to clean their paws. However, there is another dimension to this. You need to understand that cats are definitely agile creatures.
However, there is a limit to their agility. Meaning, areas such as behind their head, face, and chin is not easy to be touched without using their front paws. Think of their paws as a cleaning cloth in this regard.
After they eat, they will firstly clean their paws. But, then moisten their paw, so that they can then wipe and clean their face.
Also, you should expect your cat to be doing this kind of grooming regularly. If they are not doing it, then there is clearly is an issue.
However, on the other extreme, if they are doing it excessively, this could also be a concern.
Treats To Give Your Cat Before And After Baths
Greenies are great low-calorie treats that also help clean your cat’s teeth plus, cats love them. The Life Essentials freeze-dried chicken treats are also a big hit with many cats, are also low in calories, and are high in protein. We have more low-cal treat choices in our “Choosing the Best Cat Treats” article.
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Do Not Inform Your Cat
You must approach the cat from behind, capture him, and smuggle him into the bathroom, where you can lock the doors, barricade him in, and turn on the shower.
If you have any cats to bathe after this one, put on some noisy music to block out the screams that will undoubtedly come from not just your pet, but most certainly you as well.
You dont want to give away the next targets. Im referring to other cats.
Do Cats Really Get Clean When They Kick Themselves
A cats tongue is incredibly effective in removing dirt and debris from their coat, thanks to the papillae that cover it.
Papillae are tiny spikes made of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair. They help to separate the hairs and filter out anything your kitty may have picked up around the house or outside.
In the case of the average housecat, self-grooming is all it needs to stay clean. Hairless cats, however, need their owners to give them a bath to remove dirt from their skin effectively.
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How Many Times Can You Shower A Cat
According to The National Cat Groomers of America recommendation, you can shower a cat every 4 to 6 weeks.
Most people believes that cat dont like water and hates it. But its not true.
You need to train your cat to get used to with water and bathing and thats it.
Keeping your cats coat and skin healthy is equally important and thats why you need to train your cat to have a bath every 4-6 weeks.
If you start training your kitten from young age, actually your cat will enjoy bathing over period of time and this regular grooming habit can help ease the stress and tension for you both.
Choose Between The Adult Cat Dip Or Spray Method
Jumbo-size adult cats can be hard to dunk, and running water can be scary for them. Instead, you can use a ladle to dip water. If you have a spray nozzle on the sink, use a low force, with the nozzle close to the fur so kitty doesn’t see the spray.
Never spray in the face use a damp wash rag to wipe down that area. Keep one hand on the cat at all times to prevent escapes. Rinse beginning at the neck and down the cat’s back don’t neglect beneath the tail or on the tummy.
Wrap the clean cat in a dry towel. Shorthaired cats dry quickly, but longhaired felines may need two or more towels to blot away most of the water. If your cat tolerates or enjoys the blow dryer, use only the lowest heat setting to avoid burns.
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Why Do Cats Groom And Then Fight
The best way to explain the act of grooming and fighting is the old adage of too much of a good thing. Why do cats lick each other and then hit each other? Patience has been lost, so the good has gotten old and tiresome. Although social grooming is an act of bonding, every cat reaches a point where it has had enough. Think of it as a hug that has lingered for too long.
Although cats that groom each other have a solid bond, a form of play fighting can develop. Although rare, if the wrong buttons are pressed, a bit of play fighting could advance to the next level. Hissing, squealing, slapping, etc., can be unleashed at that point. This is where an owner must step in and make peace between the two agitated felines.
A lack of patience is the tipping point. Because cats are naturally curious animals and also like to walk to the beat of their own drum, the act of another cat messing with them for too long can lead to annoyance. If it appears that your cat is telling your other cat, Im going to lick your neck clean before I bite it, you are probably not too far off.
Grooming followed by fighting can be the result of an illness or disease detection. Although rare, some cats may stumble upon a flesh wound or infection in the cat they are grooming. Once an area of concern has been found, this may halt grooming and take a more stern and standoff-ish approach.
To Bathe Your Cat Its Important To Get All Supplies Ready First And Have A Plan
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Why Do Cats Spend So Much Time Grooming
As far as cats are concerned, cleanliness is next to godliness. And most cat owners agree. It’s a pleasant side of your cat â grooming and licking himself until his fur is soft and shiny. We all love a clean pet. A recent study of farm cats found that they spend about 15 percent of their time grooming. This figure could be higher or lower for companion cats, depending on their activity level, the type of food they eat, and their general health.
Regular maintenance grooming is the form of grooming we see most often. Cats lick their coat to rid it of dirt and debris. This is usually done before or after sleep or rest, much like our relaxing morning bath or wake-up shower, or after a meal. This type of grooming takes the form of self-licking in a routine pattern.
But here’s yet another amazing fact about the feline world: Your cat licks his coat for several other reasons besides cleanliness:Heat regulation
During hot or cold weather, licking the coat acts as a built-in thermostat. Your cat licks his fur to keep warm or to keep cool. During cold weather, licking the fur smoothes the fur down and traps the air to keep your kitty warm. And during the warm summer months, because cats have a very limited ability to sweat, their licking serves a function similar to our sweating. Saliva evaporates off the wet fur and helps keep it cool.
Do Cats Stop Grooming Themselves
As cats grow older, become overweight, or fall ill, it becomes harder for them to self-groom. Sometimes, if theyre in enough pain or are no longer flexible, theyll stop grooming altogether.
Its important to take action immediately if your cat has stopped grooming. Without daily grooming, your cat will suffer hygienicallyits hair will become matted and produce a strong odor.
Brush your cat gently to encourage them to groom. When you see your cat grooming itself, give it space and time to do so.
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How Often Should I Give My Cat A Bath
Keeping your cats skin and coat healthy is important to your cats overall well-being. But, since cats can become aggressive or irritated when you try to bathe them, it is easy to get in the habit of skipping it altogether. However, getting your cat into a regular grooming routine can help ease the stress and tension for you both! Plus, if you start them at a very young age, they can almost enjoy getting a bath. The good news is your cat takes care of a majority of their hair care needs by themselves with all that licking, but that doesnt remove mats, eliminate dandruff or make them smell better.
How often you need to bathe your cat depends on the following:
- Indoor vs. outdoor environment: Outdoor kitties will need a bath more frequently than their indoor counterpart.
- Coat length and type: Longer coats will require more maintenance than short coat cats.
- Self-grooming behavior: Cats that cannot or do not groom themselves efficiently need regular baths to keep their coat from becoming greasy or sticky. Also, overweight cats have difficulty reaching all areas of the body, so they will need bathed more regularly the back side of these kitties often become matted and the skin can become itchy, flaky or even infected
- Activity level: Cats that are highly active will require more frequent bathing
- Health issues: Issues like skin irritation, tick or flea infestation and loose stool can require more attention.
Why Do Cats Always Bathe Themselves After Being Petted
Originally Posted by KittyGirl02Hey everyone. Every cat I have ever known would always go and “bathe” himself/herself after having been petted. What I mean is they will go and lick their fur coats once they are finished with being petted. Why is this?
- new jersey
- Palm Harbor, Fl
- The seat of a John Deere tractor
- Queens, NYC
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Do Not Try Anything Fancy When Bathing Cats
If you have any fabulous ideas like taping baby socks onto your tiny feline friends feet to avoid being scratched, or wearing snow pants, bird gloves, and possibly a face shield while bathing your cat, forget it. Now, Im not saying that I tried any or all of these things Im just throwing it out there that Im pretty damn sure none of these options work. No matter how much you want them to. Trust me.
Have you ever tried your hand at cat baths? How long did it take you to recover? Is there any scarring? Share your war stories about bathing cats in the comments.
Read more about cats and bathing on Catster:
Ways To Help Groom A Hairless Cat
Even without a bushy coat, hairless cats have a lot of grooming to do. The most vital practices to maintain a hairless cats personal hygiene have to be done by its owner.
These practices are necessary for your cats mental and physical wellbeing. To stay on track, put them in your calendar, or set reminders on your phone.
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Why Do Cats Hate Bath
Cats hate bath mainly because they are not much familiar with water and also dont like wet fur.
Cats are the one which spend large amount of time in grooming themselves.
Wet fur is extremely hard for them to groom which makes them highly uncomfortable.
Also wet fur takes way long time to dry on itself which is the other reason cats tend to avoid bath and hate it.
Another possible reason behind cat hating bath can be previous bad experience associated with bathing. For example, falling in a bathtub full of water by accident can be terrifying experience for your cat and make your cat fearful of bathing in future.
When Can This Licking Become A Problem
In some extreme cases, you may find that a cat is grooming itself too much. In a way, it can become excessive. This can lead to physical problems.
An example, it could start to affect their skin and fur. Causing unsightly bald patches, or even skin sores. You may find some of these anxious behaviors for a few subtle reasons.
If there is a change in circumstance or something which is making your cat feel uncomfortable, this can trigger this anxiety.
Be mindful. This does not have to be anything drastic to us. If you recently moved house. Or maybe youve got a new addition to your family, such as a new baby, are you with me?
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Some cats lick themselves or the air when they get pets and scratches from people. Let's explore why this happens. Your Cat Might Have an Itch She Can't Scratch. If you are gently scratching an area of your cat's body that she can't reach herself, it might be dirty or itchy because it's escaped her careful grooming efforts. This happens commonly on the rear end and tail-head areas of cats that ...
Some cats lick themselves or the air when they get pets and scratches from people. Let's explore why this happens.
Your Cat Might Have an Itch She Can't Scratch
If you are gently scratching an area of your cat's body that she can't reach herself, it might be dirty or itchy because it's escaped her careful grooming efforts. This happens commonly on the rear end and tail-head areas of cats that are overweight.
When you touch that area, it can trigger an automatic desire for your cat to groom the spot, but since she can't reach it, she licks at the air or a part of her body that she can reach instead.
Your Cat Might Have a Skin Condition
If your cat has fleas, mites, or allergies that cause itchy skin, your petting might be scratching an itch or causing an uncomfortable feeling for her. Her response might be to automatically begin licking, but some cats will also bite or scratch the person doing the petting, so be careful.
Your Cat Might Not Enjoy the Petting
Some cats seem to find pets and scratches delivered by a human uncomfortable. They may not like to be touched anywhere, or there may be certain parts of their body where they'd rather not receive petting.
Other cats have a condition called feline hyperesthesia syndrome, which causes their skin to be highly sensitive, so a small pet or scratch might be painful or extremely uncomfortable.
Your Cat Might Be Exhibiting Mutual Grooming Behavior
Cats that are friends often groom each other simultaneously. Your cat's behavior of licking herself or the air when you pet her might be triggered by that mutual grooming desire.
What to Do if Your Cat Licks Herself When You Pet Her
If your cat starts licking herself or the air when you give her a pet or scratch, have her checked out by a veterinarian for skin conditions.
It's important to evaluate the rest of your cat's body language when this behavior occurs. If she appears otherwise calm and happy, leans into your petting, and seeks it out again when you stop, she is probably happy with the way you're petting her. However, if she acts upset, leans away, or moves as though she might bite you, she probably doesn't like what you're doing.
If the behavior only happens when you pet a certain area, consider whether this might be a spot that your cat can't groom herself. If so, you can brush it for her daily to keep it clean and comfortable for her.
If your cat seems to dislike being touched in certain spots, avoid petting those areas both to respect her comfort and to avoid being bitten or scratched.
21-10-2021 · There are five main reasons why the cat may lick you: To mark you as theirs; To show you love and affection; To get your attention; To groom you; To comfort itself; Remember, however, that sometimes the explanation is more prosaic. Your cat may lick you just because it senses the food you’ve been eating and preparing not a long time before. Some pets like the smell of sweat, and they may lick …
Despite their aversion to water, cats love to feel clean. They just take their bath a little differently than us, using the tongue instead. Sometimes, they groom the other cats, too. But why would they lick humans? Is that a way for your furry friend to tell you that you should take a bath more often?
Well, that would be too simple – and cats are complicated beings, as all cat owners know very well. Understanding your pet is the easiest way to improve your relationship – and licking is one of the fundamental elements of its body language. By licking you, your cat may try to communicate different things. In today’s article, we’ll try to break this issue down for you.
How does the cat’s tongue work?
Before we delve into the reasons why the cats licks their owners, let’s take a quick look into anatomy. The secret of the ability of the felines to clean themselves lies in the structure of their tongue. It works like a tender comb due to the presence of scoop-shaped papilla on the surface. It grabs excessive hair and all kinds of impurities, while allowing the saliva to reach the skin instead of sinking into the fur. That’s a very effective strategy that makes the cats one of the best groomers in the animal kingdom!
Why do the cats lick humans?
The behaviors of feline animals are often wrongly interpreted by humans. Sometimes, what we perceive as aggression is actually a defensive attitude – that’s often the case with hissing. In terms of showing affection, cats are also a hard nut to crack compared to dogs. Their ways of showing love are often much more subtle, and you need some practice to actually notice these signs.
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However, in terms of licking, cats and dogs actually have a lot in common! For both, it’s a great way to express warm emotions. Dogs usually go all the way – if they really love someone, they’ll lick their face. Most of them leave this questionable pleasure for their owners since it’s a sign of ultimate affection.
Cats are more restrained in the context of licking, but it’s also a significant element of their love alphabet. They usually lick the hands of the owners only – with some exceptions, of course.
There are five main reasons why the cat may lick you:
- To mark you as theirs
- To show you love and affection
- To get your attention
- To groom you
- To comfort itself
Remember, however, that sometimes the explanation is more prosaic. Your cat may lick you just because it senses the food you’ve been eating and preparing not a long time before. Some pets like the smell of sweat, and they may lick you because of that.
Licking as a way to express emotions
Your cat licks your hand when you’re stroking it? That’s a great sign – it means that it’s feeling 100% safe at the moment and is enjoying your company. The pet may use licking as a way to express affection and care. It doesn’t only apply to humans – cats can lick their four-legged friends for the same purpose.
Licking as a way to mark the territory
Cats have a strong territorial instinct. They use different strategies to mark their territory; all aim at leaving the smell and pheromones on a particular object or space. This way, it becomes theirs. Cats mark territory with their urine, but also through rubbing and licking.
To leave their territorial mark, cats lick the accessories, but also… their owners. This way, they can transport their scent to you, making you their property. Of course, this smell is undetectable by humans – but the other animals can sense it. Cats lick their owners to send a clear message to their furry friends – this human is mine, and don’t you dare to try to steal them from me!
Licking as a way to groom you
Cats love to feel clean, and sometimes they may want to clean you too. But grooming the human is never really about hygiene. By doing it, your cat is trying to establish your position in the group. By putting the familiar scent on you, they make you the herd’s member.
It’s the same mechanism that makes the freshly made mother cats intensely lick their kittens. This way, she makes them a part of the herd. Their rejection has terrible consequences – the dominant males sometimes kill the kittens, particularly if they have another father. Even if the kitty lives in a safe environment where there’s no risk of herd rejection, these mechanisms manifest themselves in grooming the others.
So, if the cat is licking you, it may be trying to tell you: welcome to the family! It’s another way of expressing their care and protecting you from potential dangers.
Licking as a way to comfort themselves
The cats lick their kittens to protect them from the herd’s rejection but also to comfort them. Grown-up animals may reproduce these behaviors in adult life when they’re trying to fight stress. Such tendencies are particularly common among the young kitties that were separated from their mother too early. They often develop a tendency to groom themselves in search of comfort. It’s their surrogate of nursing.
What happens, however, when the licking becomes compulsive? How to recognize that your cat has a grooming-related issue, and what can be its roots?
Excessive licking – what are the reasons behind it?
If your cat doesn’t lick you at all, there’s nothing to worry about – generally, cats do it way rarer than dogs or even don’t do it at all. What could bother you, however, is the excessive licking. Most of the time, it’s an issue tied to grooming. It manifests itself in very frequent fur-licking, often in the same areas over and over.
See also: Witchy cat names inspired by films and series (+50)
How to know when the cat’s behavior is abnormal? If you suspect that the pet’s grooming patterns are unhealthy, observe them closely throughout the whole day. See how much time it spends cleaning its fur. If it’s over 50% of the day, it may fall under the category of compulsive behaviors.
What causes the cats to over-groom? The reasons may vary. Some animals do it as a result of stress. Just as purring, grooming can become a coping mechanism that helps the animal deal with a stressful situation such as changing the environment or the introduction of a new cat to the space. Sometimes, the cats purr and groom simultaneously – that may be a hint that they’re trying to comfort themselves.
Over-grooming can also be a result of a disease. It doesn’t always have a psychological background – sometimes, it originates in physical discomfort experienced by the cats. They may lick some spots extensively when feeling pain or itchiness in the area. Licking may speed up the regenerations of the wounds, but if it’s excessive, it may actually bring an opposite effect. Sometimes, the rash and itchiness are caused by an allergic reaction to new food.
The cats can over-groom due to internal health issues as well – for instance, gastric problems or diabetes. Licking helps them deal with the discomfort and pain.
What can happen if your cat licks itself excessively?
When you notice the unhealthy grooming patterns, it’s worth reacting right away and consulting the pet’s behavior with a veterinarian. Excessive grooming may end up in fur loss or even the formation of wounds. To prevent that, nip the issue in the bud by consulting it with a specialist and serving the pet the prescribed medication.
“Cat overgrooming is similar to people playing with their hair,” says Dr. Sueda. "You do it more when you’re nervous." Behavior modification and training can help reduce a cat’s stress levels. In the case of a new animal in the home, owners can give the overly stressed cat extra attention or private space away from the newcomer.
By Denise Maher | Mon May 07 15:07:47 EDT 2012
Why Does My Cat Lick Everything? Post by: Heather M. Cats are fastidious groomers and spend lots of time licking themselves. But some felines like to lick other things, including blankets, toys, and their humans. Let’s dig into why cats lick. Licking Themselves Clean. The number one reason cats lick is to groom themselves. Cats can spend as much as half their waking time licking their coat ...
Cats are fastidious groomers and spend lots of time licking themselves. But some felines like to lick other things, including blankets, toys, and their humans. Let’s dig into why cats lick.
Licking Themselves Clean
The number one reason cats lick is to groom themselves. Cats can spend as much as half their waking time licking their coat to keep it clean, smooth, and healthy. Mama cats also spend time grooming their kitties, and some cats groom other cats as a sign of affection.
Cats have the perfect tools for grooming. Their rough tongue acts like a brush that combs out the hair and cleans their coat. Their teeth help them get rid of more stubborn debris stuck in their fur. In addition, they use their forepaws as washcloths. They wet them with their tongues and use them to wipe their faces and hard-to-reach places.
All of that grooming can cause nasty hairballs. Regular brushing is one way you can help minimize hairballs in your cat.
Satisfying an Itch
When cats feel itchy, they might lick at a spot to try and stop that feeling. Itchiness can be caused by fleas, allergies, or other common cat skin problems.
If your cat has been focused on licking a particular area, you should check it out to see if there’s something going on. Be gentle when you look since the skin can get overly sensitive or painful after a lot of licking. If you see signs like redness, discoloration, or inflammation, you should contact your veterinarian.
Cats sometimes lick themselves to soothe irritated skin or a spot that is painful. For instance, they might lick at a cut, abrasion, or joints that ache from arthritis. Licking places that hurt may seem counterintuitive since the excess licking can make the situation worse. It can also lead to infection.
Licking can feel very comforting to a cat, so they may do it when they feel anxious, stressed, or just want to chill out. As they lick, hormones called endorphins are released, which make them feel happy.
Stress licking can become excessive and start to damage the skin. In this case, you may need to do a little detective work to figure out what’s distressing your cat. Has there been a change in their routine? A new roommate or baby in the house? You may need to give your cat time to adjust.
If nothing has changed, it could be that your cat is feeling anxious because they’re bored. Try enriching their environment with an interactive toy, set up a birdfeeder outside that they can watch, or put a nature show on the television. You can also schedule a regular time each day to play a fun game with your cat.
Answers to Common Cat Licking Questions
Licking behaviors can seem strange, but there are good explanations for many of them.
Why do my cats lick each other then fight?
If you have more than one cat in your house, you’ve probably seen them licking each other in what seems like a caring interaction, only to suddenly start fighting. This is completely normal behavior that can happen for a few different reasons:
- Sometimes, it’s simply a natural transition between activities your cats enjoy together. It might look jarring to go from grooming to playing, but your cats understand the game.
- Cats use body language and behaviors to communicate with one another. When they pull back or bite, they may be saying they’ve had enough licking for now.
- A cat might nip at the other cat’s fur during a mutual grooming session to try and work out a mat or a bit of debris. The cat who receives the bit might misinterpret that as a sign that it’s time to play fight.
If your cats lick then fight, there’s typically no need for concern unless either of the cats gets overly aggressive or upset.
Why does my cat lick then bite me?
The answer to this question is similar to cats who lick then fight with each other. They may want to switch from grooming you to playing with you.
Or they might be telling you they’ve had enough petting or attention for now. Some cats also give licks and little love bites to their humans as a form of affection.
Why do cats lick blankets?
Licking at blankets or fabric, called wool sucking, can feel very soothing to a cat. It’s reminiscent of nuzzling with their mama and littermates when they were young kitties. Wool sucking can be more common in kittens who were weaned from their mothers at an early age.
If you have a wool-sucking kitty, you don’t need to worry. Many cats outgrow this behavior as they mature. However, you’ll need to be careful that they don’t tear off and swallow pieces of the blanket, which can cause choking or block their digestive system.
Why do cats lick plastic?
Some plastic objects are simply fun for cats to lick. They might have a texture that feels interesting on their tongue or make a cool sound when they mouth them. Cats also like to lick plastic grocery bags that smell like the food that was in them.
Cats who lick plastic and other non-food things may have a disorder known as pica. Pica can be the result of a health condition, dietary deficiency, compulsive disorder, lack of mental stimulation, or a stressful change in routine.
You should talk with your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has pica. You’ll want to rule out an underlying illness and get advice on how to deal with the situation. Pica can harm your cat if they choke on or swallow something they shouldn’t.
Why is my cat licking the wall?
Like licking plastic, licking the walls can be a sign your cat has pica. It could also be that the wall tastes good to your cat. Maybe some enticing food or a drink was spilled or splashed on it. Sometimes the taste can linger even after you’ve cleaned up.
What can I do about excessive licking?
If your cat is licking things that concern you or overgrooming, you should visit the veterinarian to get to the root of the problem. Your veterinarian can determine if your cat is sick, hurt, or suffering from an allergy or skin condition. They can also give you advice on addressing the problem if your cat is healthy.
If something is wrong with your cat, pet insurance can help you cover the costs of treatment. Find out if coverage is worth it for you and your cat.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
28-01-2021 · Some cats might lick you and then bite you, which can be a common behavior during playtime, or it could be a love nibble. Dr. Karen Becker explains this …
Grooming is one of the many talents that make our cats special. They can turn their shaggy coats, or the coat of their fellow feline friend, into silky perfection, while lazily lounging in a sunny spot.
Most of us might also be familiar with the sandpapery feel of our cat’s tongue, and despite its roughness, we might even welcome their grooming capabilities from time to time.
But what happens when they also start licking other things around the house? Some cats just can’t seem to help themselves and their default way of exploring the world around them is…licking!
If you’ve made it here, you probably live with one of these cats and frequently find yourself asking, why does my cat lick everything? If your cat is licking non-food items occasionally, they might be feeling curious about a new smell or an item you’ve brought. This behavior is likely harmless unless it turns into obsessive licking which could be related to stress, dietary needs, or a form of pica.
If you’d like to know more about what makes a cat lick everything, we’ve got you covered!
Let’s get into it!
What Do Cats Normally Use Their Tongues For?
As with most feline related things, the tongue plays an important role in a cat’s wellbeing. Before we understand why outs cats lick certain objects and surfaces, it’s important to understand the big picture functions of their tongue. What we might perceive as just another simple act of self-cleaning can be a far more complicated task.
To Keep Clean
Cats are known to be self-sufficient animals especially when it comes to their basic needs and keeping clean is what they do best. Plenty of research has gone into the study of the feline tongue and researchers have found that a cat’s tongue is curved and hollow-tipped. It’s covered in tiny spines, called papillae, which may feel like sandpaper and can transfer large amounts of saliva from the mouth to the fur.
David Hu, a bioengineer at Georgia Tech states that, “a cat tongue works like a very smart comb.” But their tongue doesn’t only help our cats reach the skin beneath the fur and keep it clean, it also helps lower their body temperature, as the saliva evaporates.
So, during grooming, our fluffballs keep themselves clean and cool, but they also successfully detangle their fur. Alexis Noel, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering explains that “when the tongue glides over fur, the hooks are able to lock onto tangles and snags. As the snags pull on the hook, the hook rotates, slowly teasing the knot apart.”
Perhaps our cats aren’t lazy after all, maybe they’re legendary multitaskers!
To Make Friends
While the tongue’s role is mainly to keep our kitties presentable, as with most things in life, it can also serve more than one purpose. For cats, their grooming technique can be a way of becoming friends with another cat. Studies support this by saying that “allogrooming (which is a special term that describes social grooming) is a form of caregiving through physical contact.”
Cats usually learn this behavior from their mothers, a behavior the grown cats use later in their life as a sign of familiarity and relatedness with other cats and humans. So, if you see your kitties spending their grooming energy on each other chances are that they’re a bonded pair.
To Eat And Drink
In order to get their food into their mouths animals usually use their teeth, hands, paws, or lips, but cats also rely on their tongue. There’s research to suggest that the papillae in our cat’s tongue also helps them with gripping their food. “The sharp tip may help with tissue deformation and penetration into meat.”
Even when we might not see food particles lying on the floor, their tongue can easily scrape it off the surface. Their tongue can be rough and tear through soft meat, but it can also defy gravity. Unlike most animals, cats use the tip of their tongue to pull water upward, closing its jaws before gravity pulls the column of liquid back toward earth.
Roman Stocker, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states that, “by lapping at the right time, [cats] take optimal advantage of this balance between inertia and gravity.” These two eating and drinking functions are important to remember because they can give us clues when looking into the behavior in which cats lick everything.
To Explore Their Environment
Cats depend on all their senses in order to understand their environment and in many ways to claim it. Territory is really important to a cat and by exploring it through sight, sound, and scent they can make sense of it and claim it as their own.
But how does taste helps a cat navigate through the world, especially since they don’t really have good taste receptors? While cats are unable to taste anything sweet, recent studies have uncovered that cats have retained multiple functional bitter taste receptors.
Some believe that this ability helps cats to detect poison if they try to consume it, and instead of eating it, they’ll spit it out. Scientists believe that this discovery can explain why some of our feline overlords are picky with their food. But their poor tasting capabilities could also explain why they lick non-food objects.
For Comfort And Relaxation
Cats usually try to lead a chill life and grooming can be a cat’s equivalent of a bath before or after having a long nap. A healthy and clean coat is reason enough to believe that our fluffy feline familiars are happy and content. But sometimes grooming is a useful relaxation technique when things are a bit stressful.
As we’ve often talked about, cats can become stressed and anxious about many things in their lives. It might be a simple reason like missing us when we’re away on a holiday or something more traumatic, like losing their cat-friend. Whatever the stressor might be, there are cats that will try and soothe themselves, by grooming.
This behavior can come and go, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad for your kitty. Over-grooming or also known as “psychogenic alopecia,” on the other hand can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Your cat might be overstressed, or allergic to food, fleas, or to something in their environment.
It’s important to deal with this issue as soon as you notice it and a trip to the vet will help you find what’s causing this stress-relief behavior.
Okay, So Why Does My Cat Lick Everything?
Once you’ve understood how your cat’s tongue works you might start wondering if some of your cat’s licking behaviors are normal. Perhaps your cat is a professional licker that goes around the house tongue-inspecting all the surfaces. Some of you might find your cat to be a little pickier, but still feel that licking your leather bag or the carpet might be an unusual endeavor.
So, what does licking everything really mean?
Well, it depends on what your cat is licking! Obviously, “everything” is pretty expansive but let’s look at a few of the commons items that cats lick and see how it might connect to normal licking behaviors.
1. My Cat Is Licking Me
The sensation of your cat slowly licking your hands, face or hair might not be the most pleasant since their tongues are made to slowly take apart soft meat, but it can be the sweetest sign of affection. After all, cats won’t just lick anyone!
This behavior comes from their kittenhood when their mothers will lick them to keep them clean, stimulate breathing and circulation as well as help them go to the toilet. Of course, our cats are not trying to help us get to the toilet in time, but they are caring just like their mothers.
This is a nurturing behavior that shows us that they love us. Licking is part of a cat’s social behavior and this way they exchange scents that help them recognize you and in turn strengthen your bond!
Some cats might lick you and then bite you, which can be a common behavior during playtime, or it could be a love nibble. Dr. Karen Becker explains this behavior saying that, “this show of love from your kitty can be a bit painful, but your cat really doesn’t understand her love bite isn’t always pleasant to you.”
2. My Cat Is Licking the Carpets or The Floors
As much as we might try to keep our house clean, there are always things that can go amiss. Perhaps you’ve spilled a bit of cat food. I know I drop cat food all the time since both of my cats keep trying to knock me off my feet before I manage to place the food bowl on the ground.
Then again it might be a leaking grocery bag or a trash bag (I know gross!) you didn’t notice. Cats rely on their sense of smell more than their taste receptors, so a strange smell of a forgotten and shriveled piece of cheese might be what they’re licking of the floor and carpet.
Wooden floors can absorb smells, while cool tiles can have a small amount of condensation on the surface, which means that your kitty might be drawn to this wetness. If you see your kitty lick the floor or carpet, make sure they have water and food, and try cleaning that spot with a pet-friendly cleaner.
You might also find your fluffy companion licking your walls. It could be drawn by the texture or the humidity which can build upon them. Some of you might have the same experience with shower curtains! I on the other hand have seen my cats lick my windows during winter and when I tried to figure out why I saw droplets of moisture trickling from them.
I think this kitty has also found another source of hydration!
Now when it comes to carpets more food particles can get lost between their fabric, but there are also cats that are drawn to the material itself. Some cats love fluffy textures that they can knead and bite and in some cases digest.
Next time you notice your kitty licking and sucking your carpet, pay closer attention to see if they’re doing more than that. You might find your cat digesting parts of the carpet, in which case you might have to remove the carpet and of course consult your vet.
3. My Cat Is Licking My Furniture
This behavior can actually become frustrating to many cat owners, because of the damage a cat can make. Of course, we all know that having cats also means accepting this “destructive” behavior to some degree, especially if they’ve taken a liking to a specific piece of furniture.
Try not to blame your kitty for this behavior but try to see what might be causing it. There might be a food stain or the scent of catnip from a toy that was left on it. Washing the cushions on your couch or putting a cover on top might help you keep their rough tongues away.
If your kitty is not in heat or they’re threatened by a strange pet or guest, they might be marking their territory by rubbing against that spot and also licking it. This way they leave their scent some of their scent on it, in an effort to secure their ownership. Studies suggest that, “the odor may provide reassurance to the resident cat.”
4. My Cat Is Licking My Bed Sheets And Blankets
All the above explanations to your cat’s licking can be applied to your sheets, blankets, and even your own clothes. You might notice that your cat is more persistent at marking them after you washed them, in an effort to reclaim them as their own. If you have a new cat or guest staying over, they might be doing it for the same reason.
Then again, if you’ve been enjoying breakfast in bed, then there might be a few tasty crumbles left on your blanket. You might also notice your kitty knead and bite your blanket and even lick the fabric if it’s made of wool or a similar texture.
Studies have shown that this behavior can be linked to abnormally intense appetite, medical problems, or environmental factors. For example, “early weaning and small litter size were associated with an increased risk of wool-sucking in Birman cats.” But since all cats can adopt this behavior it’s advisable to visit your vet for further information.
5. My Cat Is Licking The Litterbox
This one might make your nose wrinkle and make us think that cats aren’t so clean after all, but this has nothing to do with cleanliness, at least not in their eyes. If you already have a cat and decided to adopt another kitten or even an older cat, you might find them sniffing and even licking the litter.
If you’ve recently changed the litter to a different variety, brand, or even to one that’s scented then your cat might lick it to understand the purpose of it. There are some cat owners who use pellets as cat litter and some cats might find the texture interesting to lick and chew on.
Then again it could have nothing to do with the litter itself, but with the plastic of the box. Some cats enjoy the chewiness of plastic, as well as the taste and texture of it. Dodman, author of Pets On The Couch suggests that licking plastic is a “texture-specific eating disorder,” and while simply licking plastic isn’t dangerous digesting can lead to intestinal blockages.
Eating the litter itself can also be unhealthy so, changing the brand or type of litter can be the first step. As always, it’s advisable to visit your vet, because digesting litter or a piece of plastic can be dangerous and the habit itself might be related to some medical condition.
Why Is My Cat Licking Everything Compulsively?
Finding out that your cat likes licking most things in your house, including you, can make you question their sanity. Of course, it could be a barely noticeable odd quirk, but what if it’s not. Cats are capable of developing compulsive behaviors that can become dangerous. That’s why it’s important to explore the reasons behind your cat’s non-stop licking routine.
Cats spend a big part of their day grooming themselves, “because cats groom frequently, owners usually don’t notice a problem until they observe significant hair loss or skin lesions,” says Pamela Perry, DVM, animal behavior resident of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Overgrooming is usually caused by a dermatological problem, which causes itchiness or pain. William Miller, Jr., VMD a certified specialist in dermatology, explains that excessive licking can be caused by, “anything from parasites in kittens to neurological diseases in older cats.
What’s important to also notice when you observe your kitty grooming are the spots, they choose to excessively lick. William Miller suggests that licking the tail head may be caused by fleas, while cats that have food or pollen allergies might go for their backs, abdomens, or other areas of the body.
With over-grooming, you might find your cat producing excessive numbers of hairballs which could become dangerous on its own. A hairball can grow “too large to pass through the narrow sphincters leading either from the esophagus to the stomach or from the stomach to the intestinal tract,” explains Dr. Goldstein, DVM, an associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Because of all this, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian when you see signs of overgrooming.
Stress or Boredom
If you’ve ruled out all possible medical problems, then it’s time to look into your cat’s psychological wellbeing. I’m sure we all try to keep our kitties happy, but there are a few things you might not be aware of, and with shy cats, it can be quite tricky.
As we mentioned before, cats might use grooming or kneading and sucking on blankets to relax and soothe themselves. It’s quite possible that your cat might be doing it with other fabrics and objects or even on you.
This behavior is often rooted in kittenhood and Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian of Animal Acupuncture says that, “many cats carry this behavior into adulthood and may knead their owners, other furry siblings or bedding.”
Major changes, like moving houses or bringing another human or pet into the family can make your cat feel neglected. That’s why it’s important to keep their environment filled with familiar scents, places they can hide, toys, scratching posts, and of course the necessary amount of litter boxes, food, and water bowls.
If you also find your kitty constantly licking you, then they probably miss you and it’s the owner’s responsibility to reassure their fur baby. Dr. Perry says that spending time with your kitty is very important, “finding what your cat likes whether it’s cuddle time with you or a favorite toy that is like a security blanket can relieve stress.”
Creating a steady routine and indulging our cats can help them feel secure and trust us more. You can also work in some fun activities that will relieve stress for you and your cat!
Excessive licking and biting of non-food materials, especially plastic or synthetic fabrics, could be a sign of an underlying medical condition called “pica”.
There are also cats that prefer fluffy and fuzzy fabrics, mostly made of wool. Unfortunately, unless it’s your favorite wooly jumper that they’re consuming, this behavior might go unnoticed. That’s why once you notice your cat licking something excessively then check if they’re actually consuming parts from it.
Cats with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms and a history of eating unusual objects should be examined right away, says Arnold Plotnick, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the ACVIM. That’s why it’s important that you visit your local vet and see what can be done to manage your cat’s unusual love for artificial substances.
There are some breeds that might be more prone to “pica”, and specifically to wool sucking. Studies show that Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cats can develop this behavior. But even if your kitty isn’t a purebred cat it could still show signs of pica which should not go unchecked.
Finally, excessive licking can be an obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to studies compulsive disorders in animals can occur without them suffering from dermatologic, neurologic, or other medical conditions.
You might notice your cat having repetitive, exaggerated behaviors that seem to have no purpose. It can be compulsive pacing, repetitive vocalization, as well as licking, eating, and chewing on fabrics, random objects, and their own fur.
There are a few factors that can cause this kind of compulsive behavior and usually, it’s stress related. It could be a change in your cat’s routine or life altogether, as well as our own intervention. Some owners might end up reinforcing this behavior or cause it by punishing their cats.
Mental disorders that could be unique to each cat or can develop with age are also possible causes for OCD. That’s why it’s important for your vet as well as an animal behaviorist to examine your cat and help you find what is causing this excessive licking and if OCD is to blame.
How To Treat Your Cat’s Excessive Licking?
Having a cat that’s licking everything can alarm you, especially if you notice them digest non-food materials. That’s why it’s important to deal with this behavior before it escalates, and your cat ends up being hurt.
Limit Your Cat’s Opportunities
Luckily, cats usually have a type of material that they prefer over others, even if it does feel like they’re liking pretty much everything.
If you notice your cat licking different surfaces, fabrics, and objects more than normal then one of the first steps you could take is removing them from your home or making them inaccessible. Try to hide the woolen blankets when you’re not there to observe your cat. Get rid of any plastics they enjoy licking or chewing on.
Some cats can become obsessed with plants, so make sure that they’re cat friendly because a lot of plants can be very dangerous and toxic. I’ve got a growing collection in my house and even though they’re all safe I still keep them out of my cats’ reach.
You could also buy some cat grass to divert their interest. While cats don’t need grass if their diet is balanced, Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, suggests that it can be a source of environmental enrichment. It’s also pretty easy to grow and if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to see if your cat likes cat grass you can check out this kit on Amazon.
Try not to scold your cat since they don’t perceive punishment or shouting in the same way we might do. Positive reinforcement and a stress-free environment should help your kitty limit their excessive grooming and licking.
Invest some money into interactive toys or create your own from safe household materials. Make sure you socialize with them and reward them for their good behavior with healthy treats.
I’m sure most of us love to spend our time with our feline overlords, but it’s also important to remember that pressuring them into cuddles, picking them up when they don’t want to can also cause stress. Some cats love spending time on their own and it’s important that we listen to their needs and respect their boundaries and personal space.
Regular Vet Visits
Paying attention and keeping an observant eye over our cat’s wellbeing is very important, but unless you have a veterinary degree you won’t be able to identify every single thing. That’s why regular vet visits are vital to your cat’s physiological and psychological wellbeing.
So, whatever the case is with your cat, their excessive licking is an important enough reason to make an appointment with your local vet!
Ancient Greek philosophers have talked about the virtue of moderation in all things in life, but little did they know that this principle could be applied to a cat’s licking behavior.
A little licking here and there is cute. But licking everything?
Not so much!
Of course, grooming is essential, as well as your kitty’s curiosity, but even these two functions and traits can become dangerous if practiced uncontrollably. That’s why we should always be observant of our little feline companions and nudge them on the right path!
So, have you ever wondered, why does my cat lick everything? Let us know what is your definition of everything when it comes to a cat’s licking and how did you deal with it?