Brushing a cat with a toothbrush reminds them of mother’s tongue

Another trend has started up on the Chinese social media website TikTok. You know the website that President Trump wants to shut down or be taken over by an American company as he can’t trust them. TickTok is in the same bracket as Huawei. But it is an enormously popular site with the young as it allows them to express themselves. Some of them are very talented.

And some of the users on TikTok have made videos in which they claim that brushing your cat with a toothbrush is a good idea if your cat doesn’t like being brushed. Thaey say it reminds cats of being groomed by their mother which is why they enjoy it. If the brush is damp so much the better.

Does this claim have any validity? The best way to find out is to try it out yourself (if you, do please comment). I don’t think that this is a great revelation. The toothbrush is a brush which just happens to be very small but in general cats like to be brushed or combed. If they don’t like it they will learn to like it if you do it gently and lovingly. I would argue that it is an inherently pleasant experience for a cat to be groomed by brushing or combing but you don’t have to rely on a toothbrush to please your cat. The toothbrush treatment worked for itsdynah a TikTok user as you can see from the video on this page.

Cat being groomed with a toothbrush
Cat being groomed with a toothbrush. Screenshot from TikTok video from itsdynah.
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I flea comb my cat frequently and he loves it. I stroke him with my hand and he loves it. Using a toothbrush is not much different. A cat might initially be concerned about a toothbrush hovering over their forehead because it is an unfamiliar object. I would suspect, however, that most cats wouldn’t mind it. Domestic cats are, though, wary of strange objects for commonsense reasons, especially objects that are close to them.

When you pet your cat with your hand or index finger you are engaging in what is called allogrooming. This is mutual grooming. We know that domestic cats do this as do feral cats. Cats who are friends with each other do it to each other. It is a bonding experience that we see in many species. So if you use a toothbrush to groom your cat it doesn’t necessarily mean that it reminds them of being groomed by their mother. It is just another way to allogroom and your cat will probably lick you back. Like I said it is mutual i.e. between two who both benefit grooming.

Note: Videos sometimes disappear or fail to work and I have no control over it. If this video fails to work and is a blank space I am sorry!

The team at said that they reached out to Cats Protection for a comment. A spokesperson surprisingly said that cats will be aware that it is actually a toothbrush. I disagree with that completely. Cats do not recognise toothbrushes. Cats won’t know what it is but eventually they will know that it brings them a bit of pleasure. However, they do say that it depends upon the cat as to how they respond to it – agreed. The team also tried it and it wasn’t that successful. This is because it’s a different experience for a cat but they would get used to it and enjoy it eventually.

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