Did you know that cats spend about half their waking hours cleaning themselves or friends? Grooming is important to cats. But then again, grooming is important to people as well.

We spend hours making sure our hair or outfit looks just right before going out. We want to make sure we give the best impression that we can. But do cats have this in mind too?

Today we look at how cats clean themselves and some of the reasons why grooming is so important to them.

How Cats Clean Themselves

Cats have a few ways to keep themselves in top-notch shape. The first is their tongue. Any cat owner knows that cats’ tongues have small barbs on them. This helps them to lap up water, but it also acts as a kind of brush for when they lick themselves. It helps to remove dirt, dust and even loose hair.

A cat will even lick their next tool, their paws. You can often see a cat licking their paw, then using their paw to clean up around their face and mouth. They’ll even clean up their ears with their paws. You can say the paw will go anyplace that the tongue cannot.

Lastly, a cat will use their teeth for grooming as well. Their teeth can act as a tiny comb by reaching deep into their fur to pull any pests that are deep in their coats. A cat will also gnaw on their claws with their back teeth to remove any broken nail or husk to ensure they can defend themselves.

While cats may seem obsessed with grooming, let’s take a closer look at why a cat finds the need for so much grooming.

Why Cats Clean Themselves

There are several reasons cats will groom themselves. Some reasons include:

To Cool Off

Humans sweat all over their bodies to help regulate excess heat, but cats only sweat from their paws. To aid in cooling, your cat will rely on their saliva. Their licking helps distribute saliva over their bodies which will then evaporate and cool the cat down.

For Warmth

While cats groom for cooling, they also groom for heat. The action of licking helps distribute your cat’s naturally occurring oils over their body. This oil helps to repel moisture and can help seal in heat.

Clean Wounds

If a cat has gotten hurt, you can often find them licking at the wound. A cat’s saliva has an enzyme that acts as a natural antibiotic. So, cleaning a wound is great medicine for cats.

More Blood Flow

Anytime stimulation is provided to a part of the body, this can promote blood flow to that region. A cat’s tongue acts like a brush and can promote blood flow. If they’ve got cold paws, a little extra blood flow can help cure that. And if they have a wound they are trying to heal, a little extra blood can help aid that too.


While this isn’t self-care, many cats want to help groom their friends. Cats are social animals, and they want to help those with whom they’ve built a relationship. A cat grooming a friend, or even you can be one of the nicest compliments they can give.

Should You Help Your Cat with Grooming?

The truth is that grooming is very important to cats, but not every cat is going to want help. Grooming is somewhat intimate. Therefore, it’s kind of a compliment when your cat tries grooming you by licking. This act is what a cat might do to their mother or a littermate.

You can reciprocate as well if they’ll let you. Some cats do enjoy being brushed or combed. If your cat enjoys it, this can help strengthen your bond. You can also take advantage of the time to check your cat for any issues. Feel their skin to make sure there’s is nothing out of the ordinary. Check their hair and nails to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.

Can Grooming be Bad?

Most cats groom themselves out of necessity, but it has the possibility of going too far. If your cat is excessively licking, biting or nibbling, this can be a symptom that something is wrong.