Do Cats Lick Themselves To Heal?

As a cat lover, you’ve probably noticed how your feline friend spends an extraordinary amount of time grooming themselves. But have you ever questioned whether cats lick themselves to heal? If so, you’re in the right place.

Cats are intriguing creatures, and their self-grooming behavior is no exception. You’ve seen them groom for hours on end, and maybe even lick their wounds. But is there any truth to the notion that cats possess some kind of self-healing power through their grooming habits?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of whether cats lick themselves out of habit or if there’s more to it. We’ll explore the science behind feline grooming habits and what they can reveal about cat health and wellness. So sit tight, relax, and let’s get to the bottom of this age-old question: Do cats lick themselves to heal?

The Benefits of Cat Grooming

However, grooming is not just about keeping their fur clean and shiny; it is an essential aspect of their overall health and well-being.

One of the primary benefits of cat grooming is the distribution of natural oils throughout their fur. These oils act as a natural moisturizer, preventing dry and itchy skin, and keeping their fur healthy and lustrous. Regular grooming can also prevent hairballs, which can be dangerous if left unchecked.

Beyond physical benefits, grooming is a form of therapy for cats. When they groom themselves, they release endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety levels. This is especially crucial for indoor cats who may not have access to outdoor activities that stimulate their minds and bodies.

Grooming also helps regulate a cat’s body temperature. During hot weather, they can lick themselves to cool down by spreading saliva on their fur. Conversely, during cold weather, they can fluff up their fur by licking it, creating an insulating layer that keeps them warm.

While self-grooming is vital for cats, regular brushing and bathing are also crucial components of cat grooming. Brushing removes loose fur and dirt while preventing matting. Bathing should be done sparingly as cats are generally not fond of water and may become stressed or agitated during the process.

It’s important to note that excessive licking can lead to hair loss and skin irritation. In some cases, cats may even develop compulsive licking behaviors due to stress or anxiety. As a cat owner, monitoring your pet’s grooming habits and seeking veterinary care when necessary is crucial.

Cat Saliva’s Antibacterial Properties

Cats are well-known for their meticulous grooming habits, spending hours each day licking themselves from paw to tail. But did you know that this grooming behavior isn’t just for vanity’s sake? In fact, cat saliva contains powerful antibacterial properties that can aid in wound healing.

At the heart of these antibacterial properties is a protein called lysozyme. This protein can break down the cell walls of certain bacteria, making it an effective tool in fighting off infections. While lysozyme is also found in human tears and breastmilk, cats have it in abundance in their saliva.

But that’s not all. Cats’ saliva also contains other enzymes and proteins that can promote wound healing. Thrombospondin-1 is one such enzyme that has been shown to help with tissue repair and blood vessel growth.

However, it’s important to note that excessive licking can actually do more harm than good. While cat saliva can have some antibacterial benefits, introducing more bacteria into the wound or causing irritation can slow down the healing process. That’s why it’s essential to seek advice from your veterinarian for proper wound care.

In some cases, they may recommend using an Elizabethan collar to prevent excessive licking or prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. It’s crucial to remember that while cat saliva does have some antibacterial properties that can aid in wound healing, it’s essential to take appropriate measures and not rely solely on your cat’s grooming habits.

So the next time you catch your kitty cleaning themselves, remember that they’re not just being vain – they’re also helping to keep themselves healthy and happy. But when it comes to wound care, always consult with your veterinarian for the best possible outcome.

Excessive Licking Is Not a Cure-All

While this behavior may seem harmless, it can cause several issues that can be detrimental to your cat’s health. Let’s explore why excessive licking is not always the solution to all of your cat’s woes.

Firstly, too much licking can cause hair loss and skin irritation in the areas where the cat licks excessively. Repeated licking in the same spot can result in open wounds and skin infections, requiring immediate veterinary care.

Secondly, excessive licking can indicate underlying health issues such as allergies or infections. If you notice your cat persistently licking a particular area, it could be a sign of discomfort or pain. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any health problems that could be causing the behavior.

Furthermore, if your cat has Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), it may engage in compulsive behaviors such as excessive licking, biting, or chewing of fur. This condition causes cats to become oversensitive to touch and sound and requires prompt veterinary attention and treatment.

Deep Wounds and Abscesses Require Veterinary Care

However, when it comes to deep wounds and abscesses, their natural healing abilities may not be enough. These types of injuries can be caused by various factors such as bites, scratches, or puncture wounds. While your cat’s saliva contains antibacterial enzymes that can help prevent infection, deep wounds and abscesses require veterinary care to ensure they heal correctly.

When a cat licks their wound, it may provide some relief and aid the healing process. However, if the wound is deep or has become infected, it’s time to take action. Signs that your cat’s wound requires veterinary care include redness, swelling, discharge, and foul odor. You may also notice that your cat seems to be in pain or discomfort. Don’t ignore these signs; seeking prompt medical attention can prevent serious complications such as sepsis or even death.

Treatment for deep wounds and abscesses involves cleaning the wound thoroughly and draining any pus or fluid buildup. Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to fight any infection and provide pain relief medication to keep your furry friend comfortable. It’s also crucial to prevent your cat from licking or scratching the wound, which can irritate it further and delay healing. Your vet may recommend using an Elizabethan collar or other protective measures.

Hair Loss and Skin Irritation from Excessive Licking

Excessive Licking Causes

  • Stress and Anxiety: Cats are highly sensitive animals and can get stressed or anxious easily. Excessive licking may be their way of coping with their emotions.
  • Medical Conditions: Allergies, parasites, and skin infections can cause excessive licking in cats.
  • Boredom: If your cat is bored, they may turn to excessive licking as a way to pass the time.

Treatments for Hair Loss and Skin Irritation

  • Addressing Underlying Medical Conditions: If your cat’s excessive licking is due to an underlying medical condition, treating that condition will help to resolve the behavior.
  • Providing a Stimulating Environment: Creating an enriching environment with plenty of toys and scratching posts can help reduce your cat’s stress levels and discourage excessive licking.
  • Using Bitter-Tasting Sprays: Applying a bitter-tasting spray on the affected area can discourage your cat from excessive licking.
  • Regular Grooming: Regular grooming can help reduce the need for your cat to excessively lick themselves.

Lick Granuloma

When a cat excessively licks a certain area of their body, it can cause hair to fall out and the skin to become red and irritated. This leads to a condition called “lick granuloma,” which is a sore that develops on the skin due to continuous licking. Lick granulomas are difficult to treat and may require medical intervention.


To prevent hair loss and skin irritation from excessive licking, cat owners should monitor their pet’s grooming habits and seek veterinary care if necessary. Providing a stimulating environment with plenty of toys and scratching posts can reduce stress and anxiety in cats. Additionally, using a bitter-tasting spray on the affected area can discourage excessive licking.

Stress and Anxiety Can Lead to Compulsive Licking Behaviors

However, stress and anxiety are common issues that can affect cats just like they do humans. One of the most common ways that stress and anxiety can manifest in cats is through compulsive licking behaviors. This behavior is not only unsightly but can also be harmful to cats as it can lead to hair loss, skin irritation, and even infection.

The causes of compulsive licking behaviors in cats are numerous, and stress and anxiety are among the leading ones. Changes in the cat’s environment can cause stress and anxiety in them, as cats are creatures of habit. Moving to a new home or adding a new pet or family member can trigger stress in cats. Separation anxiety is another common cause of compulsive licking behaviors where cats become anxious when left alone for long periods of time. Cats can also become stressed and anxious when they are ill; therefore, ruling out any underlying medical conditions is essential.

So, what can you do to help your cat cope with stress and anxiety? Here are some tips:

  • Provide plenty of opportunities for play and exercise: Playing with your cat can help to stimulate their mind and keep them active, which can reduce their stress levels. A happy and active cat is a healthy cat.
  • Create a comfortable and safe space: Providing your cat with a comfortable and safe space where they can retreat when they feel anxious or stressed can also be helpful. This space should include things such as their favorite toys, blankets, or beds.
  • Consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist: If your cat’s compulsive licking behaviors persist despite your efforts to address the underlying causes of their stress and anxiety, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a professional. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can provide additional guidance on how to manage your cat’s behavior and improve their overall health and well-being.

Monitoring Your Cat’s Grooming Habits

Although cats possess a natural inclination to groom themselves, excessive or unusual grooming might indicate an underlying health issue. Here, we’ll delve into why monitoring your pet’s grooming habits is crucial and what signs you should watch out for.

Firstly, observe how often your cat grooms itself. If you notice them excessively licking or grooming themselves, it could signal a potential problem. This behavior might result in irritated skin or bald patches, which can be uncomfortable and painful for your feline friend.

Another thing to pay attention to is if your cat concentrates more on one specific area while grooming. This could be an indication of discomfort or pain in that particular area. It’s vital to monitor this behavior and take action if necessary.

Moreover, sudden changes in your cat’s grooming habits might be a red flag for an underlying issue. For example, if your cat stops grooming altogether, it could be a sign of depression or illness. On the other hand, excessive grooming could be due to stress or anxiety.

It’s crucial to monitor your cat’s grooming habits regularly and make note of any unusual changes or abnormalities. By doing so, you can detect potential health concerns and ensure that your beloved pet stays happy and healthy.


To sum it up, cats are undoubtedly intriguing animals with grooming habits that go beyond mere appearance. Licking themselves is a crucial aspect of their overall health and well-being, as it helps regulate body temperature, distribute natural oils throughout their fur, and prevent hairballs. Additionally, grooming releases endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety levels in felines.

Interestingly enough, cat saliva contains potent antibacterial properties that can aid in wound healing. However, excessive licking can lead to hair loss and skin irritation, indicating underlying health issues such as allergies or infections. Stress and anxiety can also trigger compulsive licking behaviors in cats.

As a responsible pet owner, keeping an eye on your furry friend’s grooming routine is vital to detect potential health concerns early on. Seeking veterinary care when necessary can prevent severe complications such as sepsis or even death.

While cats possess some self-healing power through their grooming habits, it’s crucial not to rely solely on them.