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Why do cats lick their front feet after eating?

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Picture of cat washing foot

Guy prepares his "wash rag" for a cleaning ritual

Roni Fillo
Question: Why do cats lick their front feet after eating?
Why do cats lick their front foot after each feeding session? Even though they have not touched the food with their foot?
Answer: Cats are fastidious animals and they groom themselves several times a day, particularly after eating. They wash with their tongues, which have rough surfaces that can "comb" and separate the hairs while distributing saliva to loosen particles of dirt, (or food particles, after eating).

Although cats are extremely agile, there are areas of their bodies which their tongues simply cannot reach, including their ears, nose, the back of their heads, and the area around their mouths just outside reach. For these locations, they use a front paw as a sort of a "washrag." They first dampen it by licking it, then wipe the moisture from the paw onto the area to be cleaned. They will perform this ablution several times in each area. Finally, when they are finished, they will clean the foot they used.

The next time your cat eats, watch him closely and you will witness the entire operation. Washing up after eating is another lesson we humans can learn from cats.

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