I love to watch my cats groom themselves. It relaxes me so much, I can almost purr. But if it becomes an obsession, it may be a symptom of a problem
Image © Franny Syufy
Often when cats are not grooming themselves, they are washing other cats with their rough, barbed tongues, and even grooming the humans they love. Last night I woke up to my Jenny, atop my head on the pillow with both paws holding my temples, as she groomed my hair. The photo shown here is our Jaspurr, who was carefully grooming Billy, when he was just a kitten. Billy was either blissful from the attention or afraid to move. It can be amusing to see a cat racing wildly all over the house, then suddenly stop, lift a hind leg in the air, and meticulously lick each hair of his inner leg. A typical behavioral pattern then is to find a place to curl up for a cat-nap. Makes me sleepy just to think of it.
There is much more involved in the subject of cats' self-grooming. For instance, several studies are ongoing on the topic of saliva, both human and animal: whether it has antiseptic properties or not. If you're of an investigative nature, try observing your cat(s)' washing habits: how often a day they occur; any particular stimulus; what do they do afterward; who else do they groom. I've found that observing my cats' habits seems to tighten our already strong bond, and understanding is knowledge gained. I'll be looking forward to seeing the stories my readers will report. Feel free to add your comments to those already posted below.