Categories: petting

Video supports theory that cats lick where you pet them because it stimulates desire to self-groom

This video supports my theory that cats often lick their fur immediately after they are petted in the exact same spot because in petting them the cat’s owner stimulates the desire in the cat to groom themselves. It is an automatic, instinctive response.

Cat stimulated to self-groom by petting

Previous theories as to why cats do this are wrong I believe. There are 2 alternative theories (1) cats want to taste the human’s scent from their fur and (2) they want to smooth their fur after it has been disturbed by a human stroke.

I am convinced now that neither is correct. Cats are stimulated to start grooming when stroked. It is like pushing the self-grooming button.

In the video the cat is being petted on his chest/belly area. In response he starts to lick thin air. He does not lick himself but he goes through the licking motion. He even shakes his head on one occassion as if he has some hair stuck on his mouth. It indicates to me a completely automtic Pavlovian response.

I have been thinking about this for a while when I came across this video on Twitter. What do you think?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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