What do insects, primates and us cats all have in common? It's a tricky question‚Ä¶ but the answer is; we all like social grooming (scientifically called 'allogrooming')!
It's good to stay purrfectly groomed and tidy!
Why Cats Groom
Why do we love to groom so much? There are lots of reasons!
You will see us grooming ourselves quite often after we have had a meal; fortunately our tongues are specially developed with barbs on them, which makes them quite rough - and very handy for grooming, particularly if we have still got food around our mouth. But, there are other reasons why you will see us grooming:
- We like to keep clean! It's hard work looking this beautiful all the time! Grooming involves cleaning our fur and removing any tangles and knots that have occurred when we are outside hiding under the bushes. It also helps to rid any insects or fleas from our coat.
- We cats are cool! Did you know that the only sweat glands we have are on our paws? This makes it hard for us to cool down in hot weather. When we groom ourselves, we leave saliva on our coats and when that evaporates, it helps us to keep cool!
- Grooming is soothing: As I've mentioned before, cats don't like change very much, or a lot of noise, and it can make us feel anxious, so we might comfort ourselves by grooming. However, excessive grooming can be a sign of cat stress.
- We may be injured. If we've hurt ourselves, we quite often lick our injuries to clean them and try to prevent infection. Don't forget we have a rough tongue so it can get rid of all the dirt around the wound. If you think we are hurt however, always take us to the vet to get checked out. It's better to make sure we are ok than risk us being hurt or any wounds becoming infected, especially considering over-licking can sometimes make wounds worse due to our rough tongues!
Why do cats groom each other?
We are family!
When I was a young kitten, my siblings and I often groomed one another, even when we were no more than a few weeks old! This is called social grooming, and it's normally a display of affection between us cats.
It's an instinct!
Us cats like to groom to stay tidy, bond with each other - and when we are young it can help us know what to do! For example, my mum cleaned my littermates and me soon after we were born - it apparently stimulated us to breathe and would make me toilet after I had drunk some milk.
Grooming feels good! So you might see us grooming, simply because we are enjoying it. We might also 'groom' our human friends, or another cat simply to show them that we love them.
If we live in a multi-cat household, you may well find us grooming each other. We are being sociable, but we are also maintaining our group scent. In fact, between two cats you may notice that one is the usual groomer whilst the other receives the grooming (that's me!). Us cats like to have our roles, and often there is a designated groomer in the household that looks after the rest of us.
To ensure all of us get along, my human uses FELIWAY Friends to help create a happy relationship between us - and since they've been using it, me and my kitty friends get along much better than before!
It's reaching the difficult parts
It's very useful when your feline friend can reach the parts that we find difficult to groom - like around our ears and neck. When we are grooming ourselves, you will see us licking our paws and wiping them around our ears - I know it looks very cute, but when another cat does it for you... it's lovely!
However, if you see us grooming each other and then we look as though we are fighting - don't worry! This will normally mean that one of us is getting bored or we want to play instead.
When Grooming is not Good
Sometimes you may find that we are grooming excessively, also called overgrooming. This could be caused by stress, boredom, or it could be because we are feeling unwell.