What does your cat do when he is not sleeping? Groom, groom, groom. Mine seem to enjoy “tasting” their environment and will clean themselves for hours. Admit it, cats love to lick! They will groom themselves the entire time they are awake. This not only keeps them clean but removes dead hair that could become matted and is often used as a means of calming a possible violent interaction. You will often see cats involved in the typical kitty play that gets a little rough. Watch closely and you will notice one cat will suddenly stop playing and start grooming himself. In kitty language that’s like a time-out. All play ceases until the grooming is complete and all parties are ready to resume the fun. Sounds really effective to me. And when your cat gets injured, it is his natural instinct to lick and clean the affected area. This helps reduce irritation and lessen the pain of injury. However, excessive licking often leads to infection and can actually slow down the healing process,unless you can limit the amount of licking your cat can do. There are measures you can take to reduce licking that are simple and non-intrusive. Some would include the use of lemon juice, Chew Guard, hot sauce or hot pepper flakes. However, you should always consult your veterinarian before using any of these applications. There are products that can be used to prevent your cat from reaching the wound such as an E-collar, Elizabethan collar, or an inflatable collar. The E-collar is effective but takes the cat quite a while to become accustomed to. Without peripheral vision, your cat may bump into walls or furniture and the disruption in his daily routine may reduce his desire to eat. The inflatable collars limit the cat’s ability to turn his neck far enough to reach the wound but gives him the ability to eat and drink as normal and will not effect his peripheral vision. Just be sure you purchase one that is sturdy enough to withstand kitty’s nails.
Suffice it to say that cats use grooming for many different reasons. Always watch your cat for signs of excessive licking. If he is not hurt and is not just tired of playing, there could be a deeper meaning that you should look in to. Your cat may simply be bored or have some kind of behavior disorder. Have you changed anything in your cat’s environment? This could include a change of food, a rearrangement of furniture in the home, a new location for the litter box, a new roommate or new pet. Cats are notorious for becoming stressed following changes in the house and that stress can easily become chronic licking. Be sensitive to changes in your cat and approach the changes proactively. Use the suggestions in this article to rule out simple reasons for the chronic licking and when you have exhausted those, it may be time to see the vet. But always remember that your cat’s grooming is a natural instinct. So, be sure you are grooming him at regular intervals. Order the following book for tips on grooming and the health of your cat: