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How Does Your Cat Groom Herself? — 8 Comments

  1. Monty does not have a sequence, but he likes to groom himself by the back window or at the end of our bed, usually after eating or coming in from outside. Friday he got drenched playing outside in a downpour. He didn’t seem to mind. I had a hard time getting him inside. He groomed for a long time after that. Now his fur is so soft and silky, maybe from the rainwater or all the extra grooming.

    • I don’t think really cats feel rain because of their coat and it does help grooming. Perhaps cats are meant to be rained on sometimes. The wild cats are.

  2. This is very interesting I am going to watch more closely and see how it goes with my cats. I know Red was a bit lazy about grooming so I would help him get the knots out regularly. I don’t remember what order he went in. I do notice that if you touch them after they groom (usually thats after they eat or wake up) that they re groom the are I touched.

    • I’ll like to hear on the sequence. I am sure the sequence is not set in stone. It must vary. But Desmond Morris, the author of Cat Watching knows his stuff so the source is good.

  3. As for your Charlie story, making him groom himself, I will have to pay more attention to Tootsie’s behavior in responses to my “scritches” when she is near me on the bed. Certainly she sometimes grooms herself then, but I’d never computed that there could be a “cause and effect” sequence. Interesting!

  4. Hi Michael! Just saw this. Great article, and great story about Charlie.

    I had not paid much attention to how cats groom themselves (orderly and such) until observing my “rental cat” Pookie. There were a lot of indoor days (howling snow and such) and it was fascinating to watch. Much better than TV. Not that I watch TV.

    The order you posted as the “classic” sequence certainly fits with Pookie’s behavior- even though I honestly can’t remember the sequence, it sounds “right”. And, certainly same as for Charlie- with intensity and commitment!

    Pookie was/ is short-haired cat, whereas Tootsie Maine coon is long-haired (course) and I wonder if this makes a difference. Tootsie undoubtedly gets various items tangled in her fur, whereas a short-haired cat would not have this problem. Maybe this explains the apparent “randomness”- she deals with problems on an as-need basis!

    What I didn’t say before is that there is one time when she is “orderly”- always such after devouring a meal- steps 1-3 you note above. Orderly and predictable. This, I’ve thought, is an adaptive response- probably genetically programmed for an important reason- I watch, and fancifully imagine Tootsie thinking “okay, gotta get rid of these food odors on my fur, the bits of food that got stuck on my whiskers, so I don’t smell like “food” to a predator.”

    • Yes, thanks VG for the “adaptive response” idea. I guess everything a cat does is for a reason and that reason ends up being about survival. The same for us. So if a cat starts at the head: eyes, whiskers, nose and ears, I suppose those are the most important bits of the cat in respect of survival and they need to be maintained in tip top condition more than the rest. Maybe that is the reason for the sequence in autogrooming.

      • Ah! An interesting extension of the idea! Not only to keep from “smelling like food”, but also keeping important bits in tip top condition. I like this idea a lot! Makes total sense.

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