Pet Tips

Self-grooming Cats – Pet tip 161

Humans frequently bring their cats to professional pet grooming salons in order to keep their pets looking and smelling great. A professional groomer will give your cat a bath, cut its nails and groom its fur. Long-haired cats need more grooming when it comes to maintaining their fur so regular trips to the groomer are recommended. In the summer-time many pets owners choose to have their cats shaved and this can be very beneficial especially if the cat lives in a house without air conditioning.

Aside from this professional grooming however, cats have an innate grooming behaviour. Long before cats were domesticated, they were totally able to take care of their own grooming needs. In fact a normal adult cat will spend something like 10% of its waking hours grooming itself. Given that many cats will sleep up to 15 hours a day, that 10% represents a lot of self-grooming behaviour and you are likely to frequently catch your cat in the act of self-grooming.

Cats groom themselves for a few good reasons and one of those reasons is keeping themselves cool. Unlike humans that sweat to keep cooler, cats transfer warm saliva on their fur and it evaporates helping to keep them cooler. The primary reason cats groom themselves though, is to remove dirt, loose fur, skin flakes and other debris from their coats. They achieve this using their barbed tongues to catch onto the loose material in their coats. They then normally swallow the debris and it is digested by the body (when it is not digested that’s when cats can vomit the occasional hairball). Cats usually have a grooming technique whereby they start with one part of the body and continue onward until the every part of its body that can be reached has been groomed. The areas that cannot be reached directly with the cat’s tongue are usually cleaned or groomed using one of the cat’s moistened paws. You’ll likely notice that your cat will tend to groom itself in a similar fashion each time it engages in self-grooming.

When a cat stops grooming itself it is time to take notice. The cessation of normal self-grooming likely indicates some type of a health problem for your cat. This cessation should be noticeable by the cat’s owner because the cat’s fur will start to lose its luster and might well become matted. Often the problem is an oral problem where the cat’s teeth, mouth or gums are affected and causes the cat pain when it grooms. Sometimes though, the problem is not local and varying reasons like depression can be the source of the cat not grooming itself. Whatever the reason though, when a cat stops grooming itself it is time for a visit to the veterinarian.

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