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How Often and Why Cats Clean Themselves

Cats are known for their meticulous grooming habits. As a cat owner, you might wonder, "How often do cats groom themselves?" Understanding the frequency and reasons behind your cat's grooming behaviors can provide valuable insights into their health and well-being. Here, we'll explore why cats groom, the factors that influence grooming frequency, and how to ensure your cat maintains proper hygiene.

Why Grooming is Important

Health and Well-Being

Grooming helps cats remove dirt, debris, and parasites from their fur, which is particularly important for maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat. Regular grooming also prevents hair from matting and reduces the risk of skin irritation and infections. Additionally, grooming stimulates the production of natural oils, which keeps the fur soft and shiny.

Temperature Regulation

Cats use grooming to regulate their body temperature. How do cats clean themselves? When cats lick themselves, the saliva evaporates from their fur, providing a cooling effect similar to sweating in humans. This behavior is especially important for cats living in warmer climates or during the hot summer months.

Emotional Comfort

Grooming is not only a physical necessity but also an emotional one. It provides a sense of comfort and relaxation for cats, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. This is why you might notice your cat grooming more frequently during stressful situations, such as a visit to the vet or the introduction of a new pet to the household. Grooming is also a way for cats to show dominance or submission in multi-cat households through mutual grooming.

Social Bonding

Grooming plays a significant role in social bonding among cats. Mother cats groom their kittens to keep them clean and establish a strong bond. In multi-cat households, mutual grooming, or allogrooming, is a common behavior that helps to strengthen social bonds and establish hierarchies. This mutual grooming is not only a sign of affection but also a way for cats to distribute their scent and create a familiar group odor, which is an integral component of social cohesion.

Factors Affecting Grooming Frequency


Kittens learn to groom themselves by observing their mother. As they grow, they become more proficient at grooming. Senior cats might groom less frequently due to arthritis or other age-related issues that make it difficult for them to reach certain areas. For a senior cat, regular grooming assistance from their owner can help maintain their coat's health and cleanliness. In addition, senior cats may require more frequent veterinary check-ups to ensure that any health issues affecting their grooming habits are addressed promptly.


Different breeds have different grooming needs. For instance, long-haired cats like Persians require more frequent grooming to prevent matting and tangles, while short-haired cats like Siamese typically need less grooming. How often a cat should groom itself can vary significantly between these two types. Understanding the specific grooming needs of your cat’s breed can help you provide the best care. For example, long-haired cats may benefit from daily brushing to prevent their fur from becoming matted, while short-haired cats might only need weekly brushing. If you’re wondering how much to groom your cat based on their breed and home environment, it’s good to consult your cat’s veterinarian. 

Health Status

A cat's health can also impact their grooming habits. Cats with dental issues, obesity, or arthritis may groom less frequently due to pain or discomfort. Conversely, conditions like flea infestations can lead to excessive grooming. Regular check-ups with veterinary medicine can help identify and address these issues early. Cats with allergies may also exhibit changes in their grooming behavior. For instance, a cat with skin allergies may groom excessively to relieve itching, which can lead to hair loss and skin irritation. It’s important to monitor your cat’s grooming habits and consult with a veterinarian if you notice any changes.


Where a cat lives can also affect how often they groom themselves. Indoor cats are usually cleaner than outdoor cats, as they are less exposed to dirt and parasites. However, they may still groom frequently out of habit or for emotional comfort. The environment, including the cleanliness of the home and the type of cat litter used, plays a significant role in a cat's grooming habits. Cat owners should double-check that their home is free of hazards that could affect their cat’s grooming, such as toxic plants or household chemicals. Additionally, using a high-quality cat litter can help keep your cat clean and reduce the risk of health issues associated with poor hygiene.

Typical Grooming Patterns

General Guidelines

Are cats clean? Well, on average, cats spend about 30-50% of their waking hours grooming. This dedication to cleanliness helps keep them free of dirt and parasites, ensuring their coats remain healthy and shiny. While this can vary based on the factors mentioned above, most cats will have a consistent grooming routine. How often cats groom themselves is largely determined by their lifestyle and personal habits. For instance, a cat living in a multi-cat household might groom more frequently to establish social bonds and maintain a sense of security. In contrast, a single cat might spend more time grooming as a way to self-soothe and cope with loneliness.

Short-Haired vs. Long-Haired Cats

As mentioned earlier, short-haired cats generally require less grooming and can manage most of their grooming needs on their own. Long-haired cats, on the other hand, need more frequent grooming to prevent their fur from becoming tangled and matted. Regular brushing by the owner is often necessary to keep their coat in good condition. It’s important to use the right grooming tools for your cat’s coat type. For short-haired cats, a grooming glove or soft brush can be effective, while long-haired cats may need a slicker brush or comb to remove tangles and prevent matting.

Grooming and Allergies

Grooming plays a role in managing cat allergies. Regular grooming can help reduce the amount of dander a cat sheds, which is often a trigger for allergies in humans. Cat owners with allergies should consider grooming their cats more frequently to minimize allergens in the home. Additionally, bathing your cat occasionally can help reduce dander. However, it’s important to use a cat-friendly shampoo and consult with your veterinarian on how often you should bathe your cat, as over-bathing can strip their fur of essential oils and cause skin irritation.

Ensuring Hygiene with PrettyLitter

Clean Litter Box

A clean litter box is important for your cat's hygiene and health. It encourages regular use and helps prevent urinary tract infections and other health issues. A dirty litter box can lead to stress and avoidance behaviors, making cleanliness a top priority. Cat owners should scoop the litter box daily and change the litter regularly to maintain a clean environment. Additionally, placing the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area can help reduce stress for your cat and encourage regular use.

PrettyLitter’s Subscription Service

Our subscription and delivery service ensures you always have fresh litter on hand, promoting a clean environment for your cat. The color-changing crystals in PrettyLitter provide an early warning system for potential health issues, helping you proactively monitor your cat's health. The convenience of PrettyLitter’s subscription service also means you never have to worry about running out of litter, making it easier to maintain a clean and hygienic litter box for your cat. 

Addressing Grooming Issues

Excessive Grooming

Excessive grooming can be a sign of underlying issues such as allergies, stress, or skin conditions. If you notice your cat grooming excessively, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Excessive grooming can lead to hair loss, skin infections, and other health problems, so it’s advisable to address the issue promptly. In some cases, environmental enrichment and stress reduction techniques can help alleviate excessive grooming behavior.

Grooming Assistance

For senior cats or those with health issues, regular grooming assistance from the owner may be needed. This can include brushing, cleaning ears, and trimming nails to help maintain their overall health and comfort. Regular grooming also allows you to check for any signs of health problems, such as lumps, skin irritation, or parasites. Establishing a regular grooming routine can help strengthen the bond between you and your cat and ensure that they remain healthy and comfortable.

Supporting Your Cat's Grooming Needs for a Healthy Life

Understanding and supporting your cat's grooming habits is important for their health and well-being. Recognizing how often cats clean themselves and the factors that influence these behaviors can help you ensure your cat remains clean and healthy. By maintaining a clean environment with tools like PrettyLitter, you can support your cat's natural grooming habits and promote their overall well-being.

Cats are naturally clean animals, and their grooming habits are a testament to their innate need for cleanliness. The health benefits of having a cat extend beyond companionship, as a well-groomed cat contributes to a healthier home environment. Remember, regular grooming, a clean litter box, and attention to your cat's individual needs are key to keeping your feline friend happy and healthy.

Being proactive about your cat's grooming needs, understanding their habits, and using quality products can help maintain their health and hygiene. Whether you are dealing with a senior cat, a long-haired breed, or a cat with specific health needs, staying informed and attentive to their grooming routines will ensure they lead a comfortable and healthy life.


  1. ASPCA. Cat Grooming Tips. 
  2. PetMD Editorial. 8 Common Cat Fears and Anxieties. 
  3. Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Cat Grooming Behavior. 
  4. Trivedi, Bijal P. National Geographic. Understanding Cat Tongues: Papillae.

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