They say that cats groom themselves in a certain order. Always the same order. Self-grooming is called “autogrooming”. When a cat grooms another it is called “allogrooming“. Cat saliva has many benefits for the cat.
At one time, VG, an America friend, rented a place and the place came with a cat because she sort of asked for one! The landlord let her look after their cat.
That was a good thing because VG is one of us: a person who understands and loves cats. She is the lady who lives with and cares for a sweet female Maine Coon called “Tootsie“. Tootsie is sooo Main Coon and soooo lady-like. Whenever I see her I want to cuddle her. Anyway back to cat grooming….
VG says this about her “rental cat” whose name is Pookie:
Pookie, the “rental cat” groomed herself fastidiously every morning, after she had had “lap time”. What I found remarkable was that she always went to the same place – the arm of a fat chair in the living room, and that she always groomed herself in a very organized way. Always the same sequence. First one front leg (can’t remember which side), and then the other, proceeding along the leg the same way. And, then, on to the next body part. (it may or may not be relevant that she was short hair moggie). Etc.
Tootsie, on the other hand, is a totally random “groomer”. Whenever the mood strikes her. And in no particular order of places. Oh, and Pookie would go from start to finish in one “sitting” so to speak. Tootsie, well, whatever, whenever. Maybe 20 seconds, maybe a full 10 minutes. Random. Obviously, I found the difference between “grooming” for Pookie and for Tootsie remarkable, or I wouldn’t have gone on about it!
Hi VG, I have a story to tell about grooming. I can make Charlie groom himself. I can turn the switch on (and so can anyone else). It happens when he is on my bed resting against me. I like him to groom when he rests against me. So I put my hand on him and stroke him gently. I talk to him nicely and gently, as usual. These are the best moments of my day.
After about 3 minutes or so, he will start grooming. He starts at the place where my hand was placed, which is normally the shoulder area. Then he might move to the bottom area and then his legs and paws. He nibbles his paws and pulls off the old keratin sheath.
The reason why Charlie grooms where I have rested my hand is to:
- Redress the balance of scents on his fur;
- Taste my scent;
- Smooth his ruffled fur.
This is what the experts say¹.
Charlie is a very determined and active groomer. He does it with intensity and commitment. You can’t really stop him or distract him. After he has finished a long session he sighs as if to say, “Phew, that’s over for a while and it was quite hard”.
So, what is the classic autogrooming sequence? This is it²:
- Cat licks her lips…then she will…
- Wash one side of her head including ear, eye, cheek and chin after depositing saliva on one side of the paw that is the same side of the head that is to be washed.
- Do the same, washing the other side of the head after wetting the other paw.
- Groom front legs and shoulders.
- Groom the flanks.
- Groom the genitals.
- Wash the hind legs.
- Lick tail along its length.
Cats nibble fur where necessary. This is when the teeth help to make things feel right. The teeth are also used to sharpen up the claws.
How does your cat groom herself?
- Cat Watching page 26
- Cat Watching page 27