One of the benefits of owning a cat is that they are very low maintenance when it comes to cleaning and grooming. They do an excellent job of keeping clean and in fact, spend a large portion of their day simply grooming themselves. Have you ever noticed that after eating, with their bellies full, they will retreat to a quiet area and start to groom themselves? Have you stopped and asked yourself why? Let’s explore in more detail the reasons why our feline friends spend so much time on their appearance after mealtimes.
Cleaning is instinctual in cats. It is something which is learned from their mother from a very young age. If you watch a mother cat, she will spend most of her day grooming her young kittens. Wild cats also learned to clean themselves after eating so that they didn’t attract unwanted predators into their neighborhood as it was a matter of life or death for them. Gone are those days for our everyday domestic cat as it is no longer the survival of the fittest but cleaning is more about maintaining good hygiene.
Some of the wet food can leave oils and tiny particles around their mouths and whiskers which is not pleasant for a cat so they will often stop during their mealtime to lick around their mouth. They will often lick their food as well, rather than biting into it, so as not to create too much mess. Can you imagine how awful it would be to still smell the food around your mouth after you have eaten?
Cats are so well equipped for cleaning themselves as their tongues are rough with small barbs which make cleaning a breeze. Cats will begin their grooming process straight after eating by licking their lips in order to remove food debris from around their mouth. Because a cat is unable to reach certain parts of its body such as its ears, nose, the area around its jaw, and the back of its head, it will use its paw. They also use their paws the same way in which we would use a washcloth, to scrub food debris from their faces. You will notice that whilst grooming themselves after a meal, your cat will lick their paws several times in between scrubbing behind their ears and across their cheeks. Once their head is clean, they will continue to make sure they have thoroughly cleaned in between their fingers, often chewing on their paws. They like to make sure that any food debris is removed from their paws. Once their head is clean, they will then spend time cleaning the rest of their body.
Grooming after a meal allows your cat to settle, particularly if they are having problems digesting some of the preservatives and fillers used in some cat food. Cats are just like us humans and can experience allergies to particular foods. Usually, you would notice a reaction quite soon after eating. Grooming is a great way for your kitty to self soothe and it makes sense for them to want to feel clean before having a lovely long nap.
If you do notice that your cat has stopped grooming itself after a meal and is starting to smell, it might be time to pay your vet a visit to rule out any underlying health issues. Older cats, just like us humans, can often experience arthritic pain which would make cleaning more of a challenge.