Healthy cats will groom multiple times during their waking hours, usually in short bursts. The behavior has less to do with how “clean” the animal is as opposed to how it smells to itself. A feline’s favorite cologne is, “Eau de Moi.”
The reason a cat will immediately wash every inch of fur on his body after you’ve given it a good rub down is to get rid of your human scent and replace it with his own. Cat’s live in a highly sensory world. Their scent is more or less their “calling card.”
In terms of numbers, however, cats sleep roughly 15 hours a day and groom 10 percent of their waking hours, or about an hour total unless they have a need for more.
Self-grooming is a natural behavior, and in short-haired breeds is usually sufficient to keep the animal’s coat in excellent shape with some help from you and a brush or comb. This added “extra” on your part not only keeps the animal’s coat healthy, but cuts down on the incidents of hairball vomiting — which is not pleasant for you or the cat!
Natural or not, however, some cats are lazy about their self-care. If you have a cat who is a bit of a slob, you can encourage better self-grooming by rubbing a moistened washcloth over the animal.
If a cat becomes obsessive about its grooming, a visit to the veterinarian is in order, particularly if the behavior is confined to a single area, for instance obsessively licking between the same two toes. This may indicate the presence of a growth or some other kind of irritation.
The same is true of scratching, which may signal “passengers” onboard — either ticks or fleas. In your cat’s desire to be rid of the pests, he can easily injure himself to the point of bleeding.
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →