Woman grooms her cat with her tongue

Cat owner grooms her cat with her tongue and eats fur

Cat owner grooms her cat with her tongue and eats fur

Is it safe for a person to groom her cat by licking her rather than using a hand, comb or a brush? Actually, is it sane? In this instance, we have a woman who grooms her cat with her tongue because (a) she is addicted to eating her cat’s fur and (b) she says it creates a nice bond between cat and person. Lisa, a 43 year old woman from Detroit, USA has been grooming her cat this way for 15 years. There appears to be no ill effects despite eating her way through a lot of fur over that time.

In one basic way, licking your cat replicates exactly how a mother cat cares from her young. This should please a cat. However, the preferred way for a human to do it is by brush, comb and hand. Lisa does groom her cat in this conventional way, as well and seems to be fairly sensible about the whole process…

What is Lisa eating?

Well we know she eats the fur. That would mean the down hairs and guard hairs if her cat is double coated. The fur contains dander which is dead skin and saliva. Lisa eats that too. A cat’s saliva can contain bacteria and also the Cat Allergen Fel D1. Fur can also include the odd flea, flea eggs and flea waste. Perhaps Lisa can detect these and avoid ingesting them?

If Lisa’s cat has fleas or even a single flea it may have the immature tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum in its intestines. They are ingested by the flea when eating tapeworm eggs. The cat bites or swallows the flea and becomes infested that way.

These are the things that come to my mind, immediately. I don’t think any of them are that big a deal except for the tapeworm! Of course that does depend on her cat having fleas (which are very commonplace).

I am painting the worst case scenario. Lisa seems healthy, as I said. I would have thought a vet and a doctor would advise against this strange behavior.

Slimming aspect of a cat hair diet

There may be a slimming element to this “diet”! Cat fur is probably treated as roughage by a dietitian. It would aid the passage of the stool through the intestine. It may help stave off hunger. It may be a nice cure for constipation. I’d like to ask Lisa about that. This could be a hidden reason why she eats cat fur.

What about her cat?

It can only be good for her cat, or is that too simplistic an assessment? I have found that placing a person’s head (a large object for a cat) near a cat’s head can be intimidating for a cat. It may unnerve her cat a little. Also a cat might not like a person’s saliva on her fur. I wouldn’t be surprised if her cat licked it off. Putting a human’s saliva on a cat’s fur may disturb the natural balance of her cat’s anatomy.

All said and done, I don’t see Lisa’s habit as causing a real problem for her or her cat but it isn’t a great idea. It is unnatural, bottom line.

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Woman grooms her cat with her tongue — 7 Comments

  1. This is weird and as much as I love cats I would never groom ours with my tongue, nor would they want me to, cats tongues are designed for the job, human tongues are not.
    The cat must wash herself under her tail after using the litter box, all cats do, she then licks other parts of herself, parts that Lisa licks also!
    Yes very unnatural!
    A cure for constipation lol trust you Michael to look for a positive in all this.

    • Now that is a good point, Ruth. The cat’s tongue has spines on it made of keratin which make it like a comb. Ours cannot do the same job – nowhere near. I think she does it for her benefit mainly.

  2. Maybe she has that condition where people (or animals) crave non food items because they are missing something in their diets. I think she should get some medical help, because there is probably a reason she is craving eating her cat’s fur. Also, she is risking health problems for herself doing this. A cat is designed to clean himself this way. His digestive tract can deal with it– both the fur and the germs– in a way a human’s cannot.

    • It is called “pica” in cats 😉 Eating non-nutritional objects. Perhaps it affects people too. In cats it is due to being weaned too early. I agree that in the long term it might cause health problems.

  3. I always pull gently and sometimes harder since they like it – my cat’ fur. I pinch it with my fingers so rather than just rubbing them i pull gently on the their fur in little tugs as if they were being licked. They love it especially under their chin. Most cats will let you pull the hair on their throat clean out because they cant reach it and it feel so good to them. Gigi in Canada used to want me to pull her hair out and I wouldn’t do it. Licking pulls on the fur a bit so when petting I simulate that. Cats seem to always love it tons. Even with thumb and forefinger you just do multiple gentle little tugs and systematically go over an area and tidy it up for them. I also use 2 hands and split the hairs apart if they are grouping a bit. They love all this kind of thing and I believe it achieves the same thing as this lady is doing. I also sniff my cats just how they sniff me. When I get home Gigi jumps on the chest of drawers and I get down on my knees so my head is at her lever and we sniff each other to say hello and then she rubs her head against me. It’s unbelievably sweet of her. Same in the morning, we sniff each other face to face. 🙂

    • I think you are a cat who has morphed into a human form. I massage my cat by grabbing his skin and fur and gently moving it. He likes it. I sometimes nibble his ear 😉 He is not sure about that. He loves a flea comb going through his fur. He’ll come to me for that when I ask him and show him the comb. But licking him – no I don’t think it is wise. I think she is the only person on the planet who does it.

  4. Actually, what she is doing is NOT EATING THE CATS FUR. I sometimes lick my kitten on the top of her head (like one or two licks, definitely not grooming). This approximates what a mama cat does with her kitten, but not all over her body (there are limits to my emulation of kitty mama), lol. I think this shows how much she loves her cat and it saddens me to see all these people putting her down.

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