Why do cats clean themselves after they eat? We all know that cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, especially after meals. Cats are dedicated to cleaning their paws and face intensively after their food, and they seem pretty satisfied after they complete their task.

Cats clean themselves after eating because they have to remove any leftover food from their bodies. In nature, they would hunt and dirty themselves with the prey’s blood and scent; They need to remove it to be sure not to attract other predators with its smell.

Let’s see why cats are so obsessed with cleaning themselves after their food and in general.

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So, why do cats clean themselves after they eat? During their meals, cats dirty themselves, especially if they eat wet food. Tiny particles of food and even some of the liquid can end up in a cat’s face during the meal. So, cats clean themselves after they eat to remove all those particles.

Often cats can clean food particles with their tongue around their mouth and on their whiskers. But they can’t reach in places where their tongues can’t arrive. So to clean the rest of their faces, cats use their paws.

If you have seen them licking their paws and then using their paws on their faces, you know that they are using the saliva on their paws to remove food particles from the fur. You could compare this action to a human washing the face with their hands.

Cats clean themselves after eating for the following reason:

  • It is a normal cat instinct to clean themselves
  • They need to remove food particles and scents from themselves
  • They try to catch even the last food particle from their face
  • Cats hate to have smelly things on their fur

Even though cats seem to show satisfaction after a good meal, they clean themselves after eating to eliminate any food leftovers in terms of scent and actual residuals. So often, you think they are licking their paws, but in fact, they are using their paws to clean their face and mouse in the places they can’t reach with the tongue.

After they finish with their mouse, usually they start licking the rest of the body, and Dulcis in Fundo, after they complete it all, it is time for a good nap. But cats, on top of all, spend hours cleaning themselves even before eating and at random times throughout the day.


Often cats clean themselves right after you pet them. It is not flattering and possibly a little bit insulting, but cats have good reasons to do that. They do it for the following reasons:

  • They want to remove your scent from themselves
  • They have a health problem
  • Instinct
  • They do not like to be touched

Although you do not smell it, you have a scent on yourself. For example, when you pet your cat, you leave a different odor on his fur. Cats do not like it and will try to remove it as soon as possible.

If your cat is sore or itchy or has skin irritation when you touch it in such as spot, you can trigger discomfort. Cats will try to ease the itching and the pain by attempting to groom that area.

If cats do not want to be petted, and you still do it, they wl instinctively groom themselves in the area of their body you touched.


In general, cats lick their paws and rub their ears for cleaning purposes. It is like washing their faces. They need to remove dirt from their face and behind the ears. It is a routine grooming action for cats.

If cats lick their paws and rub their ears too much, the reason behind it is stress. However, it is more common to see cats do this type of cleaning right after eating to remove food particles from their face.


Ok, we now we know why cats clean themselves after they have eaten, but what about the other hundreds of times you spot them licking their tails, their private parts, other cats, and anything else in between?

Based on recent studies, cats spend between 30 and 50% of their day grooming themselves. In other words, when they do not sleep or eat, or play, they are most probably busy grooming.

Are cats just obsessed with it, or there are more practical reasons? Here are the main reasons for cats grooming themselves:

  • CLEANING BEFORE EATING: you may have seen cats cleaning themselves before eating. This is because if you are going to “hunt” for food, you must be cleaned. You can’t take the risk that your pray smells your odors, right? It is an instinct for cats to behave like this.
  • CLEANING OTHER CATS: often, cats clean each other when they are together. Commonly, cats clean each other, not only because of affection; it is an instinct that makes them do it.
  • RELAXATION: This is when your cat hasn’t eaten, and it is not about to eat but jumps somewhere and starts grooming himself. He is simply relaxing. Think about how you feel after a bath.


Why do cats clean themselves after they eat only? Even though cats are cleaning themselves a lot, there is a case when cats are overdoing it.

In fact, cats may have an over-groom because they have something wrong with them. Here some of the reason this can happen:

  • A PART OF THEIR BODY IS IN PAIN: if you see that your cat is constantly licking an area of the body, try to figure out if he is in pain or has an irritation or skin problem.
  • INFECTIONS: they try to eliminate fleas, lice, and fur mats. Check your cat if this can be the case or bring him to the vet to determine the problem.
  • STRESS: If your cat is stressed, he may lick himself too much. To remedy the situation, find out what is stressing your cat. Since grooming releases endorphins (hormones that make the cat happy), they will often partake in this pleasurable and relaxing ritual to calm themselves.



How do I stop my cat from over-grooming?

To stop a cat from overgrooming, it is first to seek veterinarian assistance and see what advice they give. The other handling would be to make sure his environment is stress-free. This means eliminating all things your cat doesn’t like and instead of getting him some toys. Instead, you may want to keep your cat occupied with toys or play with him and keep him some company.

Why does my cat lick the fur off her lower belly?

Cats lick the fur off their lower belly because they have what is called “mowing” or “alopecia” caused by Parasites (fleas, mites, ringworm), Allergies (food, seasonal, environmental), Dry Skin (nutrition deficiency or environmental), Pain, and Psychological (boredom, anxiety). Ask for a vet to help you resolve this issue.

Why does my cat keep licking his privates?

It is normal for a cat to clean his private parts moderately; this kind of behavior is expected. However, if you see your cat doing it too much, it may be that he has a problem, and the vet should investigate it.

Why is my cat over-grooming in winter?

Your cat may start over-grooming when winter comes, it may be because of dry skin, so if this happens, you could help your cat by finding remedies for dry skin. In doubt, always search for veterinarian assistance.

Why my cat is over-grooming his back legs?

A cat may start to over-groom back legs and his private parts. It may be caused by arthritis and infections of the urinary tract. If they have pain, they can over-groom those parts and loos the air around them.

Why my cat won’t stop licking me?

If your cat is stressed, he may come close and start licking you. He may also lick you because he wants to bond, and he wants to show affection.

Why does my cat lick me when I pet him?

Does it happen to you that your cat starts licking you while you are trying to pet him? He does this because he thinks you are another cat that wants to groom him, and instead, he starts grooming you.

What is the primary purpose of cats licking themselves?

It seems obvious that cats lick themselves because they want to remove dirt and dust from their fur as well as odors. This is the first reason they do it; they do not go into the water like other big cats. They rather use the tongue.

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