The simple answer to the question of why cats clean themselves is: because they can. The cat tongue is littered with fine barbs, like a cleaning rag with an integrated brush. In addition, the velvet paws are very flexible and more flexible than dogs, so that they can reach almost any desired part of the body more easily. In addition, the domestication of the house tigers is not so long ago as with dogs, so that the descendants of the falcon have retained a certain independence from humans.
Kittens learn to clean from their mother
When kittens are born, they cannot yet clean themselves. The cat mother licks it clean and stimulates the digestion of the kittens by massaging their bellies with her tongue. At around four weeks of age, the kittens begin to imitate their mum and clean themselves and master the cat wash at around six weeks like the grownups.
The fur noses often follow a certain process, for example, first wash the face with their paws, then it is the turn of the ears. Then the front legs are cleaned, the shoulders and flanks, the genital area, the hind legs and the tail. The order of this ritual can vary from cat to cat and is sometimes only performed in part, depending on what is the priority for the kitty.
Not just cleanliness: when cats clean themselves
Cats don't just groom themselves to free their fur from dirt, loose hair and parasites. By licking, they stimulate the sebaceous glands located on the hair roots. These secrete fat, which impregnates the fur, making it waterproof. In this way, the animals are protected from drenching and cooling down in rainy weather - which does not necessarily mean that they like to get wet, even if the water drips off them. The saliva on the fur also serves to regulate the temperature in summer; if it evaporates, coldness arises and the cat runs less risk of heat stroke.
However, this method only helps if it is not too hot and your velvet paw gets enough to drink. Cats cannot sweat like humans because they have hardly any sweat glands, only a few on their paws and chin. Dogs also have few sweat glands, but have the natural behavior of cooling off by panting - a cat generally only pant when it is sick, and then it is best to go to the vet.
Cat wash soothes nervous velvet paws
If they clean themselves, it is also like a wellness treatment for the fur noses. The cat wash relaxes and calms the house tigers and reduces stress. In addition, the kitty spreads her own smell on her fur, which is familiar to her and therefore gives her a feeling of security. Sometimes you can see a cat suddenly brushing from one second to the next - this is a so-called skipping action.
This usually happens when the velvet paw is in a conflict situation, for example because it encounters a stranger and cannot avoid it. Then she doesn't know whether to attack or flee and instead cleans herself. So she calms down on the one hand, on the other hand the act allows her to waste time until the conflict situation has resolved itself in a pleasant way. Last but not least, the mutual cleaning of cats also serves social ties.
Why do cats clean each other?
When your cats are cleaning each other, it's usually a great sign. It usually means ...
Why dogs don't groom themselves: Possible reasons
But why are dogs so different from cats when it comes to their own personal hygiene? One reason is for sure that they are not as flexible as velvet paws and therefore cannot reach their tongues everywhere. In addition, the dog's tongue is structured differently from the cat's tongue and does not "brush" the dog's skin as well. Furthermore, because of their long history of domestication and breeding, dogs are more closely tied to humans and therefore less dependent on taking care of their fur all by themselves.
Hunting habits are different
In addition, there is the different hunting behavior of dog and cat. The velvet paws lurk on their prey, slowly stalk them and then start a surprise attack by suddenly jumping on their prey and holding it with their paws. So that the prey does not notice the cat too quickly, camouflage is important for them, so it must not smell too intensely, apart from its fine smell. Cats are not only predators, but also prey themselves, and a smell that is too strong could reveal to their natural enemies where they are.
Unlike the tigers, dogs do not hunt alone, but often in packs - together they are strong. In addition, they are originally good and fast endurance runners. They do not stalk their prey and stealthily approach, but chase after them until they catch up with them or the prey is so exhausted that the four-legged friend can easily catch it. Dogs are therefore not dependent on being as odorless as possible. In addition, the four-legged friends do not perceive smells that have a very severe or unpleasant smell on our human noses. They communicate a lot about smells and can read entire stories from them. This means that dogs also like to smell a little more intensely.