General Question

Jude's avatar

When cats groom themselves, why do they chew at their fur?

Asked by Jude (32112points) April 15th, 2010

I get the licking part, but, why little chews at their fur?

I was just watched my kitty do a mad grooming session. And, apparently:

If you’ve ever watched a cat groom her face, you’ve probably noticed the highly stereotyped manner in which she does it: first, saliva is applied to the inside of one paw. Then, using an upward circular motion, the cat begins rubbing her nose with her paw from back to front. The cat will then reapply saliva to that paw and, using semi-circular motions, groom behind the corresponding ear, the back of the ear, the forehead and over the eye. When finished with one side, the process is repeated with the other paw on the other side of the head. After the head is clean, the cat grooms the front legs, shoulders, flanks, anogenital area, hind legs, and tail with long strokes of the tongue. The order of body parts may vary, and not all are necessarily groomed in one sitting.

Ah, kittehs.

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12 Answers

ShiningToast's avatar

It probably feels good, like scratching an itch.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

My puppy does it too. There might be stuff caught in it, chewing the fur loosens stuff I assume. Or if the skin under the fur is itchy, it’s a way to get at it.

rebbel's avatar

That put a smile on my face, reading that.
My cat is just busy washing her front legs, as i read it.
What they also do by the way, is biting/gnawing their nails.

Don’t know why they chew.
I look forward to someone explain it.

Draconess25's avatar

Well they can’t use their claws to scratch an itch; they’d tear themselves to pieces!

gailcalled's avatar

I believe (but being a neophyte cat owner, I know almost nothing) that a cat, or mine, at least, uses his claws to get stuck stuff loosened. Have you noticed that a cat will spread his fingers (toes? digits?) wide apart and work his little fangs in the interstices?

The order of grooming is pretty well set for most cats. That’s why we apply Frontline in between the shoulder blades or just above it on the back of the skull. Cats can’t reach there.

syz's avatar

It’s called “scissoring”. They use the incisors to remove stuck/persistent items, parasites, and other items for which the tongue is not sufficient.

Jude's avatar

@syz Ah, thank-you!

gailcalled's avatar

Edit; Not “claws” but those sharp teeth that have occasionally removed persistent items (like skin) from me.

Coloma's avatar

My cat is a drooling, non-stop purring, overly needy senior that also has a humpy thing going on with blankets.

I love him but he has some very annoying & neurotic traits. lol

janbb's avatar

Because it feels so damned good.

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