The importance of cat grooming
Find out how a cat’s tongue provides built-in health care.
Cats lick their fur for more than just cleaning—it also helps them regulate body temperature, protect wounds and relieve stress. Read on to find out how a cat’s tongue provides built-in health care. And how you can help your cat maintain ideal grooming.
Cool cats take their licks
Cats have sweat glands in their faces, anal areas and paws. These glands alone may not be sufficient for releasing body heat—especially in warm weather—but licking can help. Licking removes excess fur to help keep the coat lighter, and the saliva on the fur has a cooling effect as it evaporates.
Tongues protect wounds
Your cat’s saliva has antibacterial properties. So when he or she licks a wound, it does more than soothe the injury. It helps protect from infection, too.
A sort of massage
Grooming also serves as a massage of sorts for your cat. The repetitive action of licking helps to relieve stress and improve circulation, much like muscle and tissue massages do for humans.
A little help, please
Cats groom each other as an act of affection—and out of necessity. Cats can't reach some spots on their own body, like the tops of their heads, so they use licking from another cat to help them keep clean. Mother cats groom their babies to clean them, help them eliminate waste and teach them by example.
Sometimes cats need help from their owners to maintain an ideal level of grooming. Supply scratching posts to help your cat maintain nail health and use a nail clipper to trim the nails as needed. Brush longhaired cats daily and shorthaired cats several times a week. Try a stainless steel or plastic comb with rounded teeth to remove hair tangles. By helping your cat remove hair you are making it easier for them to self-groom and helping to keep an excess of hair out of their stomachs. An occasional bath will help, too.