Why do cats groom themselves? Header

Why Do Cats Groom Themselves?

Why do cats groom themselves? Header

Why Do Cats Groom Themselves?

If you’re a cat owner you have noticed that your cat grooms themselves, a lot. While excessive grooming can be a sign of other health issues, the average cat grooms themselves five hours a day. But have you ever wondered if they groom themselves in a specific pattern or why they groom themselves? I had those exact question and decided to look into it further. The answer to the first is


Cats groom themselves in a specific pattern. While the pattern isn’t universal amongst all cats if you sit and watch your cat do a full groom session you’ll notice they start in the same spot and go in the same order. Just how humans usually start with washing hair, then face, arms, torso, legs, and finally feet. My one cat starts with his back left side and tail, then his face, chest, and ends with his right side and tail.

But wait, you mentioned a full groom? Is there another type?

Also yes! If you’ve ever gotten really sweaty and just needs a quick rinse then you know how cats feel when they do a quick wash. Quick washes are usually focused on one spot and reserved for when an unfamiliar scent is on them or if their fur gets messed up. An example of a quick groom would be my cat cleaning his tail after he decided to place it on top of my pizza last week. Not only did he enjoy the taste of the pizza of what I couldn’t get out with a paper towel but it helped him to keep his tail nice and clean.

Which leads into…

Why do cats groom themselves?

Cats groom themselves for a variety of reasons but largely it’s to help spread sebum, the natural oils produced, around as well as to keep debris and tangles out of their fur. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to give them a helping hand. Even the most diligent cat can still get tangles that need cut or brushed out. This is especially true in long haired cats. They also may get feces or other hard to get out debris around their sanitary area which may require human intervention.

If you notice your cat excessively grooming – technically called psychogenic alopecia, that could be the sign of a few things:

  • Anxiety
  • Allergies – pollen, fleas, food, etc.
  • Ear mites
  • Pain
  • Stress or boredom

You should consult a veterinarian if you notice your cat excessively grooming to rule out any potential health problems. If all health problems are ruled out you can try maintaining a routine to reduce stress, provide more mental and physical stimulation, and try calming medication (with a prescription) or over-the-counter calming products like pheromones.

Why do cats groom themselves infographic?

Next time you’re bored, go watch your cat groom themselves! Let us know your cats specific grooming pattern @WetNosesPetSitting. It’s fascinating to see all the variations our cats have created.

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