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Why do Cats Lick Their Paws then Wipe Their Face?

Understanding why cats lick themselves is confusing and weird at times. In particular, I have often wondered why cats seem to lick their paws, the way they do. I looked into this and discovered the answer, let me explain…

Why do Cats Lick Their Paws then Wipe Their Face? This is their way of cleaning themselves. And also a method to replenish natural oils in their fur and skin. They also detest water baths, unlike us humans. So this is their only way to keep clean.

As I grab my ice cream, I find myself licking my lips. Have you ever tried not doing this? Drives you nuts, right?

I think this is a great comparison to the natural instincts of cats. But let me dig deeper now and address the following, why they lick their paws after eating, reveal other reasons why they may lick themselves in this way, and much more…

What are the main theories behind Cats Licking Their Paws in this way?

There are two theories behind this:

  • They are actually cleaning their bodies and face.
  • Replacing essential natural oils in their face and body.

Cleaning their face

Regarding the first theory, it is believed that they are simply cleaning their face with their paws. If you watch any cat, whether it’s your’s, a neighbor’s or any cat for that matter.

They will usually clean their body first by licking then follow up with licking their paws. Then, wiping their face. This is common amongst all species of cats.

As you probably know, cats do not really like to be doused in water. Therefore, this is their method for keeping their body and face clean.

Replacing essential oils

This theory suggests that the natural oils in their body is being replenished by licking their paws and then wiping their face. I say “theory”, because there is not any real hard evidence to support this.

Why do cats lick their front paws thoroughly after eating?

Typically this is done to clean their paws. However, there is another dimension to this. You need to understand that cats are definitely agile creatures.

However, there is a limit to their agility. Meaning, areas such as behind their head, face and their chin is not easy to be touched without using their front paws. Think of their paws as a cleaning cloth in this regard.

After they eat, they will firstly clean their paws. But, then moisten their paw, so that they can then wipe and clean their face.

Also, you should expect your cat to be doing this kind of grooming on a regular basis. If they are not doing it, then there clearly is an issue.

However, on the other extreme, if they are doing it excessively, this could also be a concern.

Could there be other reasons why cats lick them self in this way?

Yes, essentially there are quite a few different reasons why they may do this. For that reason, I will break this down for you now…

Controlling Their Body Temperature

In extreme heat or cold conditions licking themselves can be used as a way to help control their temperature.

The theory is that cats, in cold weather, lick their skin and fur. The saliva will help to coat their fur to generate a barrier against a cold.

On the other extreme, in hot weather, you may find them licking and cleaning themselves as a way to help cool down.

Rubbing in new scent

Cats are very sensitive to smells. In addition to this, they have scent glands in their mouth and cheeks.

You may find that if your cat is using its paws to wipe its face, it may actually be trying to ease this scent out.

For example, if your cat had an unexpected bath. They may want to try and get their scent back onto their body.

Anxiety issues

You may also notice, in some extreme cases, if your cat is feeling very anxious. They may start doing some excessive grooming. This is obviously some cause for concern. This is something that you should follow up with your vet.

Injuries

If your cat is injured. It may also attend to its injuries by gently licking the wound. Sometimes these wounds are not necessarily serious.

They may not be big open gaping wounds. They could actually be injuries that are not even noticeable with the naked eye.

Hiding their scent from predators

Another technique used by cats is to hide their scent. Cats have very sensitive noses. To put it into perspective, their scents of smell is 14 times stronger than a human. They can smell things that we would never be on our radar.

Sometimes this skill can work against them. In the wild, for example, mother cats will try to clan off herself and her kittens in an attempt to mask their scent.

General pleasure

In some cases, you may find that your cat just generally likes to groom. Simple as that!

Obviously, this is almost impossible to confirm. But, it’s something that you can see just by their general body language.

When do cats start this grooming process?

Grooming and licking themselves starts from when they’re kittens. Before they are even 4 weeks old their mother will lick them. This is for a few reasons:

  • Keep them clean.
  • General comfort.
  • Entice them to trigger natural bodily functions.

At about 4 weeks old they will start mimicking their mother and start to groom themselves. 5 weeks and beyond you will even notice them starting to groom the other littermates as well.

This grooming process is built in their DNA and is something which is part of cat culture.

When can this Licking become a problem?

In some extreme cases, you may find that a cat is grooming itself too much. In a way, it can become excessive. This can lead to physical problems.

An example, it could start to affect their skin and fur. Causing unsightly bald patches, or even skin sores. You may find some of these anxious behaviors for a few subtle reasons.

If there is a change in circumstance or something which is making your cat feel uncomfortable, this can trigger this anxiety.

Be mindful. This does not have to be anything drastic to us. If you recently moved house. Or maybe you’ve got a new addition to your family, such as a new baby, are you with me?

Related questions

Why do cats lick themselves after they’ve had a bath? In all honesty, cats should not really be bathed. They are not like dogs and do not like exposure to water in this way.

For that reason, you can expect your cat to aggressively lick itself after it’s had a bath. This is because, in your cat’s mind, she is unhappy with the fact that she’s been bathed.

Therefore, she is frantically licking hirself to replace the bodily fluids and scent that she believes should be there. Only bathe cats in extreme cases when it’s necessary.

Could cats be licking themselves due to fleas? It is possible (Click to see why your cat may get fleaes). However, in most cases, it is likely to be something else. If you notice it almost nibbling itself, in an effort to scratch itself, then this could be cause for concern.

Could my cat be attacking and biting me because it’s anxious? It could be (Click here for 15 Ways to Stop Your Cat From Biting and Attacking You).

In fact sometimes, as discussed earlier anxiety could be seen from excessive licking as well, not just aggression. Is there anything obvious that you can see causing this anxiety?

It may be advisable to consult a vet to clarify if this is the case. Because, there are many reasons, and unfortunately it is not always obvious what the issue is.

Top 5 Flea Medicines for Cats

Cats are some of the cutest and adorable furry friends one can have as pets. The sad thing is that these pets get infested with fleas. A flea infestation is not only a nuisance but can also affect your cat's health in a big way.

When the infestation is extreme, it can damage the cat's skin or even cause an allergic reaction. What is worse is that your cat could end up being anemic. Cats can ingest fleas which introduce tapeworms to their bodies.

To check whether your cat is infested with fleas, wipe a damp white cloth across it fur and ensure you get close to the skin. If you happen to see red patches, it means your cat has fleas. These patches are fleas' dirt, which is usually their feces from digested cat blood.

If you want to control the flea infestation, the best way is through prevention. There are so many flea elimination options that it is hard to determine which one to pick. You will get to learn about the 5 best flea control products for cats in the subsequent section.

The Best Cat Flea Treatment

The following is a list of the best flea treatments that are highly rated due to their convenience, availability, and performance, among other things. If you have a cat that loves the outdoors, controlling fleas can be an uphill task. This is because you simply cannot cover all the areas it frequents.

With these products, your cat will still be free to roam around with total protection from fleas. This will, however, be possible if you take care of the problem in good time. This issue can be dealt with in different ways, and some of the products work well if used in conjunction with others.

 

With this in mind, below is the list.

Bayer Advantage II Flea Control Treatment for Cats

This is a perfect product for helping you gets rid of the fleas and also kill their eggs and larvae. It protects your cat from fleas for long since it is always applied on a monthly basis. Killing the adult fleas ensures you destroy the life cycle and no more eggs can be laid. This helps ensure that re-infestation doesn't happen.

When you use the Advantage II flea treatment, it will stop all the biting pests in just 10 minutes of application. Within the next 20 minutes, 99% of the egg larvae will also die, while 98% of all fleas will die within 12 hours. Expect all lice to disappear within a week too.

All that is needed is to topically apply this treatment around your cat's neck where it will not be able to lick off. You can safely use this product on cats and kittens that are over 8 weeks old and weigh more than 9 pounds.

The Advantage II treatment comes with a six-month supply, and you can even use it on many cats. Each tube serves one cat. Do not worry if you like bathing your cat as this treatment will still work effectively and protect your pet from all fleas and lice.

This product tends to be strong and should be used outside your home where the cat can stay and wait for it to dry before getting inside the house. Use a flea spray for spot treatments.

Seresto Flea and Tick Collar

If you hate using chemical-based topical products or are tired of having to apply flea spray all the time, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar is your best option.

It is manufactured with a release technology that has been patented by its manufacturers. It will offer eight straight months of protection against fleas in your cat, regardless of its age. The collar is odorless and non-greasy and can fit any cat irrespective of its size. The active ingredients in this collar include imidacloprid and flumethrin, which get released slowly over the cat's skin to kill all the fleas before they even start biting your cat. The collar is lightweight and very comfortable for any cat.

This collar is, however, not recommended for kittens that are less than 10 weeks old since it might be hard to adjust the size. It might also cause diarrhea during the first several days in some cats. Also, this product tends to be pricey than its alternatives.

Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Cats

This is a renowned product that helps cat owners to protect them from fleas, lice, flea eggs, and ticks. You can use it on cats and kittens from 8 weeks old but not younger.

You are simply required to place drops at the base of your cat's neck. To ensure the application process is successful, ask for assistance to keep the cat still.

Separate the cats that have no lice with those that you have applied the treatment on until it dries off. The product comes in 3, 6, and 12-month doses.

Petcor Flea Spray

This spray acts instantly to kill all fleas and stops any re-infestation. The good thing about this product is that it offers your cat instant relief from itching and scratching. If you want to stop the spread of fleas in the house, spray it on beddings and all your cat's napping spots. You can also use it around the house.

This spray works for up to 63 days, and it will help stop fleas throughout their life cycle. It is suited for cats and kittens that are younger than 12 weeks, and a single bottle will be used several times on cats or surfaces. Avoid applying too much of it as it might cause lethargy.

Sentry Capeguard Oral Flea Tablets

This is an over-the-counter pill used to control fleas. It has the same ingredient as that found in other expensive pills that veterinarians recommend. Also, it is a great way of providing day-to-day relief to your cat, though you might be required to combine it with other products if you want to destroy the fleas' life cycle.

It can be challenging to get your cat to consume this tablet. So, you can butter it or hide it in your cat's favorite treat.

Once ingested, it starts to work within 30 minutes by killing fleas. It lasts the whole day. You can administer it on a daily basis to your cat without having to deal with the mess created by topical applications.

Its downside though is that it doesn't kill larvae and needs to be used along other products to completely get rid of fleas from your home.

Take care of your pet kitty with any of the above treatments, and you will have yourself one happy friend.