Why Do Cats Spend So Much Time Grooming?

As far as cats are concerned, cleanliness is next to godliness. And most cat owners agree. It's a pleasant side of your cat – grooming and licking himself until his fur is soft and shiny. We all love a clean pet. A recent study of farm cats found that they spend about 15 percent of their time grooming. This figure could be higher or lower for companion cats, depending on their activity level, the type of food they eat, and their general health.

Regular maintenance grooming is the form of grooming we see most often. Cats lick their coat to rid it of dirt and debris. This is usually done before or after sleep or rest, much like our relaxing morning bath or wake-up shower, or after a meal. This type of grooming takes the form of self-licking in a routine pattern.

But here's yet another amazing fact about the feline world: Your cat licks his coat for several other reasons besides cleanliness:

When your cat licks and tugs at his coat, he stimulates glands at the base of the hairs to release a secretion that helps keep his coat waterproof.

Grooming is the most common form of displacement behavior in cats. It seems to help cats cope with stress by lowering their arousal level. For example, if your cat is intimidated by another household animal, you may notice that during an encounter, he may nonchalantly groom himself for several minutes.