Has your cat ever strolled in to a room full of friends or family and just plopped down and lifted their leg in the air and started licking their private parts? We often wonder why they do this, but the good news is this is very common and very normal for our feline friends. Cats are excellent groomers and tending to their genitals is a very normal part of the grooming process for both male and female cats.
Kittens: Female cats often take care of the grooming of her kittens rear ends and this also helps stimulate the kittens to have bowel movements. As the kittens grow they gradually learn to take over grooming them selves. Its totally normal if your kitten is not the best at keeping their behinds clean at first. If they were separated from mom at an early age this can be common but no worries just help them clean the area if it needs some extra attention. With male kittens monitor their testicles as sometimes one or both can be undescended into the scrotum. If this occurs it is referred to as feline cryptorchidism. Testicles should be fully descended by two months of age, if not this can be corrected at the time of the neuter. If left untreated it can lead to cancer or a painful condition called testicle torsion.
Adults: There are not many ailments that affect external genitalia for both male and female cats. If your male cat is paying extra attention to grooming his penis it could mean he has an underlying urinary issue going on. If a male cat develops a urethral blockage this condition could become life-threatening. The blockage would need to be removed to enable the cat to urinate. So if your cat occasionally grooming his privates not to worry this is very normal for male and female cats. It is time for concern when your cat is excessively grooming. Sometimes cats lick to relieve pain or will make multiple trips to the litter box then this could be signs that there is some sort of urinary issue going on.
Seniors: Older cats that are less active can easily become obese. Overweight female cats can develop a deep skin fold along the sides of their vulva which can become infected due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the folds and due to the cats inability to properly clean the area. You can help keep those skin folds clean, as well as, actively help your cat to lose weight. In cases of severe pyoderma sometimes the excess skin does need to be removed surgically to resolve the problem.
So if your furry feline likes to groom in front of an audience there is usually no need to worry but if the behavior has changed abruptly in one way or another call your vet to have them checked out!