Why Do Cats Clean Themselves After They Eat?

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Grooming right after eating is a behavior that comes naturally to cats. A cat in the wild may hunt for prey, kill it, consume it, groom herself and take a leisurely nap. Although your domestic feline doesn't have to hunt for her meals, she may follow a similar daily regimen.

Feline Body Clock

Your cat may follow her natural body clock each day by pouncing and playing, chowing down on a meal, grooming exhaustively and taking a nap. House cats replace hunting with playtime. These activities, in that order, point to a cat who is simply following her natural instincts. Grooming is a big activity for felines. The majority of them groom in some way for nearly half the time they're awake.

Grooming After Eating

Preening and licking the fur on her body and face immediately after you feed is a remnant of your cat's wild ancestors. After a cat successfully hunts and kills her prey in nature, she has to make sure she gets rid of every last bit of the animal from her body. Otherwise, the odor of her kill, blood included, could draw the attention of predators who could be looking for a meal themselves. Not only does grooming after eating do away with persistent pieces of food that are lingering on the coat and on the body, but it also does away with the telltale smells that can make it difficult for a cat to be stealth when hunting for food next.

Post-Meal Grooming Technique

If you pay close attention to your cat's post-meal grooming patterns, you may notice her cleaning bits of food from her mouth. When she does this, she'll probably wipe her mouth area off using her wrist. After that, she'll likely then lick her wrists, which have just been dirtied by her mouth.

When a cat grooms right after a meal, it's usually a lengthy process. Because your cat is unable to access many parts of her face with her mouth, she may depend on her paws to take care of the job. Your cat may lick her paws a few times in a row and then wipe them over her ears, neck and the back of her head. Your cat may end her grooming sessions by wiping her paws over her face. The majority of cats depend on their left paws or freely switch between both paws when grooming. Merely 20 percent, however, opt for their right paws during grooming sessions.

Tip

  • If you're concerned because your cat no longer seems to be grooming herself right after eating, sickness, pain or stress could be the culprit. If you spot pieces of food on your cat's chest or face 30 minutes or so after she's done eating, that could be a sign that something is bothering her. Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian to figure out what's causing your pet to neglect her grooming duties.

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