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Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other?

Hardly does an hour pass by without seeing a cat groom herself. Cats love to lick their coats and the coats of their fellow cats to keep them clean and shiny. As a cat parent, you may be wondering why do cats groom each other. Grooming helps to get rid of excessive hair, feces that may be sticking on the cats’ fur consequently eliminating odors. This is good because everybody likes clean and healthy pets. However, as a pet owner, it is important to note that your cat will still need professional cat grooming services which can be done by you or a specialist. Interestingly though, cats groom each other because of many other reasons as outlined below:

Motherly Instinct

It is a common sight to see a cat grooming her kittens immediately after they are born. This is to remove any afterbirth remains from their coats and ensure that they are breathing well. The mother can also lick the kittens’ anal areas to encourage elimination of waste after feeding them. As the kittens grow older, the mother keeps teaching them to groom themselves by constantly licking parts of their bodies until they can independently groom themselves.

To Tame Aggression

A study conducted on the behavior of domestic animals in 1998 revealed that 35% of cat groomers are aggressive. The study further indicates that older cats, both male and female make the best groomers while the younger ones make ideal candidates to be groomed. Once an older cat is done grooming a younger one, it grooms itself.

This is a sign that indicates an attempt to tame aggression. Generally, grooming occurs between the mother and her kittens or between cats that live in the same area. A groomer may act aggressively upon a newcomer. Constant grooming helps to tame aggression and bring about friendship.

A Sign of Love and Protection

Yes, I know. This might sound weird, but it is the truth. It is the same way humans help sick members of their families or friends to clean themselves. Some parts of the cat such as their heads are impossible to groom without help. This is where a friend comes in to lend their services.

This behavior can also be witnessed between cats that live in the same compound. They often spend time licking each other’s body parts. This practice is thought to foster friendship and unity. Basically, cats look out for each other to keep themselves sufficiently groomed.

Temperature Control

During hot temperatures and cold temperatures, cats tend to groom each other more often as compared to the other times. Research has proven that this act helps to regulate their body temperatures keeping them protected throughout the seasons.

During the cold weather, licking the furs flattens it which helps to trap warm air and prevent excessive heat loss from their bodies hence keeping them warm. Similarly, during summer, the saliva that is left on the furs after grooming evaporates bringing about a cooling effect on the body. This is helpful in lowering body temperature as cats hardly sweat.

To Get Rid of Unwanted Scents

Cats are highly sensitive animals with a powerful ability to differentiate scents. The cat’s sense of smell is said to be more than ten times stronger than the human nose. This is the number one reason why they lick their coats immediately after interacting with people or other objects, to rid themselves of the smell left on their bodies.

Grooming helps to rid a cat of any unwelcome scent and return its furs back to the way it was. It is also said that grooming can help mask their scents hence protecting them from predators that are seeking to hunt them down. The cat’s saliva has enzymes that are capable of masking scent from enemies.

To Relax

Humans do a lot of activities such as watching movies or playing chess to relax. For a cat, the grooming ritual is like a hobby. It helps a cat to relax especially if they are in unfamiliar environments. It is what they do for leisure just like a human could watch a movie to relax.

It has also been proven that grooming helps to increase blood flow to different areas such as the ear buds encouraging quick growth for kittens and quickens healing in case of any injuries.

To Clean Wounds

Cat’s saliva also functions as a natural antibiotic that works to prevent further infection on a wound. Therefore, cats often lick each other wounds to keep germs at bay and to increase blood flow to the affected area promoting the healing process. Additionally, licking the anal area after excretion helps to ward off flies which can cause infections and helps to keep the area clean.

To Deal With Nervousness

Cats become overly nervous when they are moved to new and unfamiliar grounds. This is because cats like predictability and any change may causes stress. These then trigger grooming as it helps them to calm down and bring about some comfort. It is advisable to carry items such as a cats’ bedding when moving to a new place to help make them comfortable and to prevent excessive grooming.

Reacting to Pain

When a cat is in pain it tends to lick the painful area constantly. For example, a mother can lick her kitten’s wound and surrounding area because of itchiness. Other times it is a sign of flea infection especially if the constant licking occurs at the tail head and the surrounding areas. Once you notice frequent licking on a specific area, carry out an examination or seek medical attention.

Why do Cats Groom Each Other Summary

Cat grooming is a good thing to both the cat and the owner since it brings about many benefits as discussed above. However, one should be wary of excessive grooming. Signs of excessive grooming include loss of fur and changes in the health condition of a cat.

Excessive grooming is a sign of sickness, anxiety or infestation of parasites such as fleas. This should encourage immediate attention that would require a visit to a cat vet. Additionally, the cat’s bedding and surrounding areas should be kept clean and disinfected to keep the cat safe and healthy. Hopefully, this article has addressed your question of why cats groom each other.

References

Conscious Cat Grooming
Healthy Cat Grooming

Why Do Cats Groom Each Other Infographic

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