Cats lick their own hair, or fur, and the fur of other cats for a variety of reasons, including grooming, cooling off and bonding. Cats spend 50 percent of the time they are awake licking themselves.
When cats lick their fur, they remove loose fur, dirt and odor-causing agents. When cats are warm, the saliva wets their fur, which evaporates and cools them off. Cats also lick themselves and others to relax and form friendships. Overlicking, which causes baldness and excess hairballs, can indicate pain, itchiness or stress. Cats that overlick themselves should be taken to a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.