Why Do Cats Clean Themselves But Dogs Don’t

Is it because cats prefer to keep things tidy while dogs are lazy slobs? No, their tongues are solely to blame. Given how similar their appearances are, you might assume that dogs and cats have tongues that are identical. However, a dog’s tongue is silky, compared to a cat’s scratchy, raspy tone. A stroke of luck then? No, everything depends on size and lifestyle. Due to their small size, cats face numerous predators in the wild who are eager to devour them. Because cats are lone hunters who must do everything in their power to mask their scent, they groom themselves frequently. They have developed a tongue with spines that point backwards for superior grooming traction.

Dogs don’t need to groom themselves because they are pack animals, where safety is found in numbers and individual fragrance isn’t as vital. Their normal, smooth tongues would be preferable for a hello licking as well!

Are cats more hygienic than dogs?

In actuality, cats are cleaner than dogs. Cats have the ability and propensity to clean and groom themselves, therefore they don’t need to be bathed as frequently as dogs.

The majority of cats, especially those with medium to long fur, need to be brushed frequently. Regular brushing will help prevent mats and matted fur on your dog. Shorthaired cats may only need to be brushed once a week, whereas longhaired varieties require routine grooming.

Why are cats preferred to dogs as pets?

Dogs really enjoy rolling around in smelly material, including garbage, dead animals, and feces. Dogs must therefore regularly be bathed and groomed, which can be very costly if you take your dog to a groomer.

In a sense, cats are self-cleaning machines. Cats are really good at keeping themselves clean, so you may only need to brush it occasionally and absolutely clip its nails as needed.

Why are cats squeaky clean?

An average cat licks its fur for roughly 2.5 hours each day, or one-fourth of its waking time. Ever questioned why an animal would invest so much time in a task like this? (Image: Creative Commons CC BY, WikiCommons)

What was the last cat video you watched on the internet that was amusing, adorable, and awwww-inspiring? Was it posted on one of the countless Facebook pages, a WhatsApp forward, Instagram, or YouTube? Was it a charming cat staring at a laser beam on a wall, one attempting to catch a fish floating on a smartphone screen, or was it a stunning creature resting in the sun and licking its fur to a flawless shine?

Whatever you were watching, or even if you aren’t a “cat person,” you undoubtedly noticed that cats spend a lot of time licking themselves—nearly 25% of their waking hours, in fact. A cat is thought to lick its fur for approximately 2.5 hours every day on average.

Ever questioned why an animal would devote over a quarter of its waking hours to such a task? And what on earth does the cleaning and grooming sector have to do with any of this?

It’s true that cats prefer to be tidy. However, there is more to their obsession with licking. According to researchers, doing so also aids in controlling body temperature and removing extra heat. And now, armed with research on cats (namely, their varied tongues and the dynamics of their licks), bio-engineers hope to create tools that could make grooming much simpler for both people and animals.

What causes this, then? How is it that dogs can’t maintain their fur in pristine condition whereas cats can? What can their tongues teach us?

Bio-engineers Alexis C. Noel and David L. Hu of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, the US, did a study and examined the tongue patterns of six different cat species, including the domestic cat, bobcat, cougar, snow leopard, tiger, and lion (see photo below).

On December 4, 2018, the research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious academic journals in the US.

For this study, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology used the tongues of six different cat species, including domestic cats, bobcats, cougars, snow leopards, tigers, and lions. (Image: GIT/Alexis Noel)

Cats are able to wick saliva (moisture) deep into their fur and clean it thanks to the millions of hollow hard spine-like structures the research team discovered on their tongues. The term for these spines is filiform papillae (see photo below). The papillae function as a brush to help untangle and remove tangled and broken hairs from the epidermis in addition to assisting the tongue in delivering saliva into the fur.

cat tongue papillae in microscopic view. (Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology/Alexis Noel)

The study’s results, according to researchers, will assist the grooming and cleaning industries develop more effective solutions that make use of a cat’s tongue’s built-in capacity for cleaning. A direct application could be in the creation of higher-quality brushes.

The researchers gathered post-mortem tongues of six cat species, including domestic cats, bobcats, cougars, snow leopards, tigers, and lions, in order to study the cleansing capacity of a cat’s tongue and the function of papillae.

Then, it built three-dimensional models of every tongue to examine the papillae’s anatomy. Surprisingly, the papillae of all six tongues were roughly the same in size and form (despite the size variation between a domestic cat, a tiger and a lion).

The scientists used advanced cameras with high-speed videography capabilities to film the movement of a domestic cat’s tongue as it licked a woman’s fur in order to explore the dynamics of cat grooming. The crew could see the papillae in action when the video was played slowly.

A cat’s self-grooming process has been seen to consist of four stages: tongue extension, lateral expansion and stiffening of the tongue tissue, a sweep of the tongue over the fur, and finally, tongue retraction in a U-shaped curl (see photo below).

the four stages that a cat goes through when licking her hair. (Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology/Alexis Noel)

“The papillae rotate as they expand until they are parallel to the tongue. This enables the papillae to stand upright and expand their area of contact with fur “Dr. Alexis Noel publishes a study.

She goes on to explain that the 3D printed images (see examples below) demonstrate that a cat’s tongue has two papillae-rich regions. The papillae are lengthy in the first section (from the tip to the middle). The papillae are shorter, softer, and denser in the second half of the tongue, which extends from the middle to the throat. Only the front half of the tongue is used during grooming, according to the high-speed videos, she writes.

photos of a cat tongue in three dimensions for papilla research. (Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology/Alexis Noel)

The rear-facing papillae of the cat’s tongue become perpendicular to the surface when it makes contact with the fur, allowing the maximum amount of saliva to penetrate the fur, as shown in the slow-motion video (see below).

What animal is the cleanest?

The advantage of owning a hamster is how simple they are to care for. They are also generally tidy creatures. You simply need to spot clean a tiny area because normally they only use one particular portion of their cage as a toilet and leave the rest of the cage immaculate. It requires less frequent deep cleanings, making maintenance a breeze. For people who have strong senses of smell, hamsters are perfect. A properly cared for hamster rarely emits bad odors, making it the perfect companion for someone who wants to keep their home clean. Hamsters receive an 8 out of 10 for cleanliness.

Which animal has the best hygiene?

One kind of mammal is the rabbit. Because they groom themselves by licking and using their paws as small brushes to brush off any dirt lodged in their fur, they are the cleanest animals in the entire animal kingdom.

They are equally adept at grooming themselves and maintaining their cleanliness without baths, much like cats. They nearly always groom themselves.

The grooming procedure also aids in removing any extra fur shed, keeping the rabbit appearing tidy and clean.

Cat saliva is it clean?

Numerous hours are spent by cats grooming their fur, and according to some experts, cats can spend as much as 30% of their time grooming. The backward-facing barbs on a cat’s tongue, known as papillae, serve as an internal comb to keep the fur smooth and tangle-free. Unless the cat has gotten into something they can’t get out through normal grooming, a healthy indoor cat rarely has to be bathed. Ever questioned how the cat manages to stay so clean using only a “spit bath”?

Surprisingly, cat saliva contains a natural detergent-like compound that aids in maintaining the fur’s cleanliness. When your cat’s fur is damp from grooming, try sniffing it; you should detect a light, pleasant, and somewhat soapy scent. Remember that cat saliva includes a lot of microorganisms just like human saliva does.

Do cats have clean tongues?

A cat’s saliva carries some dangerous pathogens. It also has antimicrobial qualities, though. The fact that feline salvia is thought to be a natural antibacterial agent explains this. The following substances can be found in cat saliva:

The tongue of a cat supposedly contains antimicrobial qualities. But to say that a cat’s tongue is fully antimicrobial would be oversimplified. Both toxic and helpful properties exist in cat saliva.

Healing Properties in Cat Saliva

The therapeutic capabilities of feline saliva must also be highlighted before talking about the concerns it carries. It also has additional healing qualities, such as:

  • Opiorphine is a natural painkiller.
  • Epidermal Growth Factors encourage recovery
  • Antiviral substance called thrombospondin

It’s not surprising that many animals feel driven to lick their wounds given the antibacterial, antiviral, and healing capabilities of saliva. For instance, aspirin is poisonous, therefore cats cannot take it for pain. Similar alleviation from common aches and pains is offered by saliva.

The antibacterial and healing qualities of saliva may be helpful if a cat temporarily licks its wound. The cat’s tongue has barbs that will quickly clear the wound of any dirt and debris. Unfortunately, saliva is not the best remedy for promoting wound healing.

Are Cats Tongues Clean?

It would be a stretch to suggest that cats’ tongues are clean, despite the fact that cat saliva has antibacterial and wound-healing capabilities. Since cats use their lips to explore the environment, their tongues are home to a variety of microorganisms, both healthy and dangerous.

Claiming that cat saliva is pure and sterile is misleading. Excessive licking of wounds will eventually introduce dangerous bacteria into a cat’s circulation. A cat’s excessive grooming of a wound increases the risk of infection.

Cats frequently suffer from abscesses, which are deep skin diseases. Bacteria that likely originate in saliva enter the area and cause a painful infection, which is when an abscess develops. Even if the results are not as dire, they can still be harmful.

Harmful Bacteria in Cat Saliva

The following dangerous bacteria have been found in cat saliva, according to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery:

  • Multiresistant Pasteurella This is a typical component of cats’ oral flora. So even when your cat is indoors and very clean, Pasteurella multocida will still be present in its saliva.
  • One of the main causes of lick granuloma, a type of dermatitis, in cats is Staphylococcus intermedius.
  • This bacteria, Bartonella henselae, is frequently found in fleas and can spread from cats to people.

It is more common for cats who live in groups and cats who spend time outside to have hazardous germs on their tongues. Additionally, it’s more likely that cats who hunt outside have a variety of harmful bacteria in their mouths. Particularly rats and mice carry a wide range of diseases.

Both cats and people may suffer severe effects from this. When a cat kisses you, it can be adorable, but you should proceed cautiously. It can be harmful to allow cat saliva to get into your mouth or bloodstream.

By making sure that your cat’s mouth is clean, you can allay these worries. Your pet’s routine care should include routine tooth brushing. However, cats’ tongues can become soiled in a split second. It’s quite impossible to keep bacteria away permanently.

Illnesses Linked to Cat Saliva

Numerous major health issues have been associated with the germs in cat saliva. The following standouts:

  • An intestinal disorder called cryptosporidiosis results in severe stomach distress.
  • Giardiasis is another intestinal issue that results in uncomfortable cramps and diarrhea.
  • Perhaps the most terrible gastrointestinal complaint of them all is salmonella illness.

Do felines ever feel awkward?

A cat may look around right after after falling, seemingly searching to see if anyone witnessed what happened. Owners perceive these behaviors as a sign that the cat is humiliated, particularly if you make fun of them.

Since cats lack a sense of self, feeling embarrassed is a complicated emotion that they cannot understand. A cat’s behavior, though, may indicate that it is ashamed. The area of the cat’s brain that deals with embarrassment is similar to that seen in humans, but it is much smaller. Unfortunately, the question of whether cats experience guilt is not easily answered.

Despite this, many pet owners think that their cats feel ashamed when they fart, defecate, or trip over. The issue is that these actions may have justifications other than sentiments of shame.

Where on your bed does your cat sleep, and what does that mean?

Just as much as how your cat sleeps, where he sleeps might reveal a lot about him. Cats may rest on a towering cat tree to boost their self-assurance. If your cat sleeps on your bed, he can decide to arrange himself so that he can see more clearly out the bedroom door. He might be hiding if he’s curled up in a ball under your bed or in a quiet place. Cats that snooze beneath the covers may like your company or may be hiding because they feel safer there.

Why do cats crawl all over you when you’re sleeping?

Some cats will jump on their owners while they are sleeping in an effort to get some attention or because they are bored. This might be particularly true for kittens or cats who spend a lot of time alone during the day.

Try having a robust play session with your cat just before you go to bed if you believe he is waking you up because he is bored. Make sure he has a nice time by getting some toss toys and interactive wand toys. Give him a treat or a little meal after letting him “catch” and “kill” the toy you’re playing with.

A cat would spend a lot of energy catching prey in the outdoors, consume it, then take a bath and rest for a bit to refuel. Your cat should get more rest at night if you follow the play, followed by treat, regimen as described above.