Fascinating Feline Facts: Cat Saliva

Cats spend countless hours grooming their fur, and some experts estimate that cats will spend up to 30% of their time grooming. A cat’s tongue is covered with backward-facing barbs called papillae that function as a built-in comb to keep the fur sleek and free of debris. A healthy, indoor cat does not usually require bathing, unless the cat has gotten into a substance that he or she cannot remove through regular grooming. Have you ever wondered how the cat stays so clean with just a “spit bath”?

Surprisingly, cat saliva actually contains a natural detergent-like substance that helps keep the fur clean. Try sniffing your cat’s fur when it is still damp from grooming, and you should notice a faint, pleasant and slightly soapy scent. Keep in mind that, like human saliva, cat saliva also contains lots of bacteria, too.

About author

Abby Rosenberg

Abby Rosenberg is a PetMeds employee and long-time cat lover. She was a volunteer for several years at a local no-kill cats only rescue shelter. This has prepared her for her most challenging role to date: secretary, photographer, social coordinator and treat dispenser for Daisy, and Daisy’s sidekick Harley. Daisy is a dilute calico Devon Rex cat, and Harley is a “cow-cat” who was adopted from the shelter where Abby volunteered. You can also find Abby on Google+

There are 3 comments

  • Dina Richter says:

    Did you know that a cats saliva can kill a bird?

  • blake says:

    does this have anything to do with why cats saliva is so clean?

  • Katrina says:

    Cat saliva deposited on their coat is what makes up the dander that people are allergic to. Also, all that self grooming, swallowing hair and debris, results in hair balls barfed up on your carpet. All cats can benefit from a proper groom from a professional. Owners also benefit, ie fewer allergy symptoms, less hair shed on everything, fewer barfed up hairballs to clean up.

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