Hygiene and cleanliness are crucial to felines and their owners alike. Pet owners don’t want a smelly or dirty cat. This makes it important to understand just how clean can cats can be.
We will look at your cat’s personal grooming routines and behaviors, and how they stay happy. Learn when your cat is at their cleanest and which scenarios may necessitate a helping hand.
- 1 Are Cats Clean or Dirty?
- 2 Why Do Cats Stop Grooming Themselves?
- 3 Is My Cat Cleaning Themselves Too Much?
- 4 Is a Cat Cleaner Than a Dog?
- 5 Are Cats Clean After Pooping?
- 6 How Clean are Cats’ Tongues?
- 7 How Clean are Cats’ Mouths?
Are Cats Clean or Dirty?
As a rule, cats are clean. This is primarily a survival mechanism. In the wild, cats live to hunt. This means they need to be as stealthy as possible.
By keeping themselves clean, cats can blend into any environment without a scent revealing their whereabouts. Cats also keep themselves spotless so their predators cannot detect them.
Here are a handful of further cat cleanliness facts, explaining why felines are so fastidious.
- According to Family Pet, cats spend roughly 10% of their waking hours cleaning themselves. This could rise as high as 50%, however.
- Cats have tiny barbs on their tongue, called the papillae. These help your pet trap and remove dirt and loose fur from their coat.
- Cats always like to groom themselves after eating. This is so they can remove the lingering scent of food from their fur.
- You may notice your cat licking their paws, then rubbing themselves. This is your pet cleaning parts of their body that cannot be reached by their tongue.
- If two cats groom each other, it’s a sign that they’re friends. Cats that enjoy each other’s company will often help each other clean hard-to-reach spots.
- Cats that clean themselves to excess are likely living with stress or anxiety. You will know if your cat is over-grooming, as they will start removing their fur.
- Grooming cats aren’t just cleaning themselves – they’re regulating their body temperature, too. Cats will groom much more in the summer to cool themselves down.
Remember, your cat grooming themselves is perfectly normal – provided it’s not to excess. It’s when your pet loses interest in grooming that you need to start worrying.
Why Do Cats Stop Grooming Themselves?
A happy and healthy cat will never stop grooming themselves. In many respects, this behavior is just as worrying as refusing to eat.
It may not result in the same immediate physical danger, but the psychological impact is similar. If your cat is not cleaning themselves, they’ll often become withdrawn and depressed.
The most frequent explanations for a cat failing to groom are pain or the physical inability to do so.
Does it Hurt My Cat to Clean Themselves?
As cats get older, they become prone to arthritis and joint problems. This is particularly likely in felines aged 12 or over.
If your cat is arthritic, they will struggle to maneuver their joints sufficiently for cleaning. Grooming is not easy for felines – they require a degree of flexibility. If they’re in constant pain with their joints, it won’t be possible. Here’s some advice on grooming senior felines.
If you suspect that your pet is becoming arthritic, see a vet. Together, you can draw up a plan to ease your cat’s discomfort. This may include painkilling medication.
If your pet is younger but seems to find grooming painful, check if they’re eating. If not, they may be experiencing dental pain. This will make them reluctant to clean themselves.
Is My Cat Physically Incapable of Cleaning Themselves?
There is also the possibility that your cat has piled on the pounds. An overweight cat will be unable to reach pivotal areas to clean themselves. This includes cleaning the bottom after using the litter tray. Consult a vet about an eating and exercise plan for your fat cat.
Older cats may also struggle with the act of cleaning. We have already discussed arthritis, but they may lack energy. A good, thorough feline self-clean is a real cardio workout.
Is My Cat Cleaning Themselves Too Much?
Excessive grooming is a common symptom of stress in cats. So common that the behavior has a medical name – psychogenic alopecia.
As Mercola explains, when cats groom themselves, it releases endorphins. This means that a feline may groom to excess to self-soothe themselves when distressed. This can become very dangerous, resulting in a cat removing large clumps of their fur.
If your cat appears to be cleaning themselves every waking moment, assess their routine. Felines do not cope well with change, so this may be causing them distress.
If you cannot readily identify the cause of their concern, speak to a vet. Your cat may be hiding a medical condition that is causing them significant anguish.
Is a Cat Cleaner Than a Dog?
Most breeds of dogs lack the hunting instincts of cats. This means that they do not feel compelled to erase any trace of their scent. A dog will lick their paws spotless, and clean up after any trip to the bathroom. Anything beyond this is fair game, until a human intervenes with grooming.
This is not because dogs are lazy. The fact is, they lack the dexterity of a cat. Most dogs are unable to contort themselves into the positions required to lick their fur clean. This means that regular showers will be necessary to keep the fabled ’doggy smell’ at bay.
There will be exceptions to every rule. Some dogs are meticulously clean, and some cats are comparatively slovenly. As a rule, however, canines cannot reach the same levels of unassisted cleanliness as felines.
Do Cats Need to be Bathed and Shampooed?
Most cats can quite happily get by without a bath or shower. This is a relief for pet owners, as bathing a cat can be murderous.
There will be occasions that it becomes necessary, however. If your cat is unable to clean themselves, they’ll start to smell. If your cat spends time outside, they may roll in something that needs additional cleaning.
If your cat does need a bath, they’re unlikely to take kindly to it. Follow the advice of Preventative Vet to prevent the experience from becoming an ordeal:
- Get a friend to help – bathing a cat is a two-person job.
- Fill a small surface, such as a kitchen sink, with warm water. Cat skin can easily be damaged by water that’s too hot.
- Place your cat in the water, and dampen their fur. This is when they will start resisting, so be prepared.
- Lather a cat-friendly shampoo (never use human products) into your pet’s fur. Leave it for a minute or two.
- Rinse the shampoo away with a low-pressure showerhead or tap.
- Thoroughly dry your cat off using a soft towel.
Of course, a bath may not always be necessary. Unscented baby wipes may do the trick in most cases, alongside brushing. That said, cats that clean themselves do a comprehensive job – and are happier.
Are Cats Clean After Pooping?
Feline cleanliness also stretches to their bathroom habits. If you provide your pet with a litter tray, they’ll usually make use of it. Litter is helpful as it disguises the scent of a cat’s waste. It also provides your cat with a chance to bury their waste.
After doing their business, your cat will hurriedly clean themselves very thoroughly. The only exception will be if your cat is elderly or obese. If they’re unable to reach their behind, a cat will not be able to clean it.
This can prove problematic for pet owners. Fecal matter can get stuck and matted in your cat’s fur. This means that you’ll need to chase your cat around with a packet of baby wipes!
If it’s the weight that is preventing your cat from staying clean after pooping, see a vet. You’ll need to get your cat to drop this excess weight for numerous health reasons. Inability to stay clean after using their litter tray is just the tip of the iceberg.
How Clean are Cats’ Tongues?
Cats use their tongue to clean their behind after pooping. Perhaps this answers the question as to how clean their tongues are.
You will also recall that your cat’s tongue is filled with tiny barbs. This means that fur, dirt, and debris will be trapped within. Sure, these are swallowed before long. All the same, it will give most people pause for thought.
Here’s the good news, though; feline saliva has many healing properties. This means that being licked by a cat may be able to speed up the healing of open wounds. It’s not recommended, though.
Tread carefully when it comes to kissing your cat. The occasional lick will not do any real harm to a healthy adult. Children or anybody with a compromised immune system, however, could be struck down with bacterial sickness.
How Clean are Cats’ Mouths?
A cat’s mouth is typically a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Your cat will hunt wildlife all day, especially vermin. Naturally, a mouse or cat will leave traces of nastiness behind if caught.
This makes it vital that you brush your cat’s teeth regularly. The bacteria in their mouths can often impact upon feline teeth. Gum disease can spread and cause health concerns.
If your cat refuses to allow you to brush their teeth, speak to a vet. You’ll have to book your pet in for a full tooth clean. This involves putting your cat under anesthetic, and a hygienist removing any traces of plaque or tartar.
This doesn’t mean you can leave cats to do all their grooming for themselves. You’ll need to brush them from time to time. For the most part, however, cats are very particular about their hygiene.
Just remember that cats eat rodents (that potentially carry disease), and use their paws to cover up their own feces and urine. Cats eat bugs, which also are also filthy. Cats may spend much of their time grooming, but they also have some very unclean habits.