When it comes to grooming, there are no other pets that groom just as cats do. Unlike your dog companions, cats require less maintenance partly because they are solitary and fastidious animals. In fact, most cats spend up to half of their awake time to indulge in some form of cat grooming. Discover why your feline does what it does and what grooming may signify.
Understand The Importance Of Grooming
Grooming does more than just keeping a cat’s appearance in check. This act helps to keep the skin healthy by stimulating the production of sebum and spreading it over the hair coat. This thin lubrication helps to not only protect the fur coat, but also removes any loose hair, dirt and parasites.
For any fur animals, the state of grooming is a barometer for its health, especially for a feline. Since cat’s skin is thinner than dogs, they are more prone to tangles and matting, which not only make it harder for them to rest or lie in specific positions, but can also cause them a lot of pain. Cats who don’t have an excellent grooming habit may also suffer from a form of physical or mental illness. Older cats that suffer from arthritis will find it difficult to maintain their appearance and excessive licking in some cats may suggest anxiety disorders.
Like dogs, cats aren’t able to sweat to cool themselves off. Whilst the former pant to keep their body temperature down, cats rely on the evaporation of saliva spread on the fur – similar to how we cool down when our perspiration evaporates! Be on alert if your cat does pant, as this indicates that they are hyperthermic and will thus need veterinary attention.
How Cats Groom
Believe it or not, cats have their own grooming ritual! Most cats start by licking their mouth, chin and whiskers before they groom their shoulders and preleg, followed by the rest of their body. Cats will also nibble on their rear and front claws to keep them clean, and will claw an object to file their front claws into shape.
You may have noticed how bizarre it must’ve felt to be licked by your feline friend. This sandpaper surface has a lot to do with the papillae, or spines, that is on their tongue. They act like a comb by grabbing onto the fur to make grooming much more efficient. It may feel rather odd at first, but it’ll be the last thing on your mind as you revel in a feline’s affection!
Grooming is not just a mere necessity, but it can also be a form of affection expressed from one cat to another. It reveals not only trust and comfort, but companionship and even love. If you’re lucky enough to own a cat that’s generous with their gestures of affection, your cat may even be open to groom your hair or lick your arm, thus engaging in mutual grooming that displays love and kinship!
Grooming is a behavioural act that’s also used to make themselves feel emotionally better. This bizarre act is termed as displacement grooming as it isn’t an appropriate reaction to the given situation. Animal behaviourists believe that displacement grooming helps cats to deal and navigate through conflict. They theorised that the familiar act, along with the touch sensation, have a direct effect on their brain chemistry to alleviate their stress.
Whilst some displacement grooming is considered perfectly natural, keep a lookout for when it gets excessive. When your cat has become too obsessive about grooming to where it interferes with other normal behaviours or may even cause harm, do seek out a veterinarian for their advice.
If you’re looking for an animal that requires little maintenance, cats are just the perfect domestic pet for you. Whilst grooming is a natural behavioural trait, do remember to also give your feline once a month – not more than that. Giving them a bath once in a while will allow them to groom even more effectively. If you’re not sure, head down to your closest veterinary clinic and the expert will give you detailed pet care instructions!