Tuesday 11 April 2023

Petting your cat with a wet toothbrush. Worth doing?

There is a group of people who believe that petting your cat with a wet toothbrush is a good idea because it replicates the kind of sensation in an adult cat that they experienced when they were newborn kittens being licked around the head by their mother.

Petting a cat with a wet toothbrush
Petting a cat with a wet toothbrush. Image: Reddit.com

I'm sure this is true. It is probable that the toothbrush more accurately replicates the sensation of being licked by a mother than petting with the fingers on the forehead. But I don't think it is significantly better.

Personally, I don't see a great advantage in petting with a toothbrush. I think a cat companion will enjoy a very similar sensation if you pet their forehead with two or three fingers. This is what I do also

I actually use three fingers on the part of the head you see in the photograph because it avoids touching the ears when you pet at that position. I don't want to disturb his ears. I also do the same thing with a flea comb.

I believe that cats don't particularly like it if you use the entire hand to pet their forehead and squash their ear flaps down. I don't think it's a big issue but it is not quite as good as doing it with three fingers.

Sometimes if you pet a cat's forehead with the entire hand, they shake their head afterwards as if to adjust their ear flaps and return them to their natural, neutral position.

The conclusion for me, is that you should pet their forehead with two or three fingers and then the entire hand can be used to stroke the back of their neck which by the way my cat loves and then down the body.

The sides of the face i.e. the cheeks can be petted with a couple of fingers as well. I usually use the back of my fingers to do this as it is more convenient and actually it is gentler because the positioning of the fingers means that the muscles of the fingers act as a kind of spring system and allows the fingers to follow the contours of the cheeks more reliably.

Pet your cat with a flea comb
Flea comb as an alternative tool to pet your cat.  It does two things at the same time. Image: MikeB

As mentioned, I also pet my cat's head and cheeks with a flea comb. This provides a very similar sensation for the cat as a toothbrush and has the added advantage of checking for fleas.

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