Do Cats Really Think Of Their Moms When We Toothbrush Groom Them?

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on September 21, 2020

Cat parents will do just about anything to make their kitties happy. So when an amazing idea hits social media, we feel compelled to try it out with our cats.

And the latest cat pampering trend is one which might remind cats of the kittenhood comforts they knew at their mother’s paws. So being loving cat parents, we’ve taken to the toothbrushes!

Thanks to a recent TikTok trend, people are grooming cats with a damp toothbrush as it’s been rumored to remind felines of their mothers.

cat toothbrush

Toothbrushes and a Mother’s Love

Before kittens learn how to groom themselves, their moms do the work for them, using raspy tongues to keep their babies clean. In this safe place at their mother’s side, kittens feel safe and cozy. The damp toothbrush bristles are thought to resemble a mom cat’s ministrations. And it seems to send grown-up cats into a bliss of comforting recollection.


When asked if toothbrushes really remind cats of their mothers, Hunter Finn, an associate veterinarian working with the animals of Arlington, Texas, told BuzzFeed, “Although I can’t actually put myself into the mind of a cat (what a world that would be), I can imagine this could remind them of being groomed by their mother at an early age.”

So the toothbrush could very well remind them of their moms. Which means when a human parent takes up grooming activities, “it certainly could reinforce the fact that they are a mother-like presence, or a companion at the very least.”

cats toothbrush

But why does a toothbrush feel like a mother cat’s tongue?

“Although not exactly the same, most toothbrushes have nylon bristles that could feel quite similar to the keratin spikes (papillae) that give cat tongues that sandpaper feel. These hundreds of tiny, backward facing spikes are actually thought to help with grooming and other tasks.”


Not All Cats Care for the Toothbrush

When it comes to the practical application of grooming a cat with a toothbrush, reactions have varied. There are scores of kitties caught in pure joy under the bristles. But not all cats enjoy the toothbrush grooming and that’s okay.

Dr. Finn warns to look out for signs that the toothbrush is causing stress in your cat. “Going viral on TikTok is NOT worth the cat scratch or bite you might receive if you misread some of the cat’s body language. Signs of a stressed cat include: dilated pupils, ears pinned back against the head, crouched posture with legs under body, tail tucked or forcefully flicking, and of course vocal growling or hissing.”

And then, there are the kitties who enjoy the grooming, but think the toothbrush makes a better toy!


Feature Image: @_uko__lingo/Instagram

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