Feline grooming and saliva
Anyone who has taken the time to look at a cat may have noticed how often cats lick themselves. It's a pretty normal thing for cats to be concerned about grooming themselves; in fact a healthy cat will do this naturally. Cats lick their fur in order to move bits of matted fur and remains that have stuck in their hair. This is in part the way they groom themselves and as we mentioned before is a normal reflex and behavior for a healthy cat. However, this behavior is not always the ideal for people who are sensitive and allergic to them. Unluckily for people who are allergic to them, cats deposit a big amount of saliva on their hair each time they lick themselves causing this saliva to them dry, shed off and then goes into the environment becoming airborne and almost instantly causes an allergic reaction.
Cats start to lick themselves around the second or third week of their kitten lives. As they go getting older, the licking also increases. It has been observed that cats lick and groom themselves around thirty to forty percent of their time. There are many reasons a cat licks itself one of which is to remove the loose hair on its body, as well as dust, debris. Licking not only cleans the cat's skin but it also stimulates the skin glands in order to spread the natural oils throughout the whole coat to keep it waterproof. Licking also serves to keep the cat's coat and temperature under control. Cats do not sweat through their skin so they spread big amounts of saliva onto their fur and skin, which then evaporates and cools their body down when the weather is hot.
Cat's tongues are covered with a large amount of hard, sandpapery type of barbs that are slanted towards their throat. Cats are naturally very agile and have very flexible spines. This obviously allows them to slant into almost any direction in order to groom themselves. The areas they are not able to reach such as their head and neck, is taken care of by licking their forepaw and then rubbing it across the neck and head. What does this mean though? Cats literally bathe themselves in saliva. Not only this, but cats also have a habit of licking people they become close to and it is a normal behavior which happens when cats are taken away from their mother at a very young age. This action, unfortunately, can cause an allergic skin reaction to a person that is allergic to a cat's saliva.
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