Ever caught yourself wondering, “Why does my cat lick the floor?”
Whether your cat loves licking laminate, tasting tiles, or chewing on the carpet, it’s a pretty funny cat habit, and not always in the “haha” way.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons for this unusual feline behavior.
Let’s dive into the topic and give you some answers.
6 Reasons Why Cats Lick The Floor
Below you’ll find 6 potential reasons for this strange behavior. We’ve marked them “simple” or “scary,” to help you out.
If you even suspect it could be one of the “scary” reasons, please call your vet.
In fact, if you’re not 100% positive that it’s something simple, it’s always smart to have a vet check things out.
#1 Simple: Something Tasty On The Floor
Let’s get the most obvious reason out of the way first. If you drop food on the floor, your cat is going to be all over it.
Even once the food is gone, the smell and taste may remain.
Your cat’s extraordinary sense of smell means that she will notice even the subtlest of scents.
My cats sometimes get offcuts of raw chicken as a treat. They often end up dragging the chicken chunks from their bowls onto the tiled floor.
Unsurprisingly, once the chicken is gone, they start licking the tiles, which still presumably taste of chicken.
#2 Scary: Cleaning Products
Continuing with the theme of taste and smell, your cat could enjoy the scent of certain household cleaning products.
For example, some cats love bleach. The chlorine in bleach can smell like the pheromones found in cat pee.
Ammonia in other cleaning products is also a very similar odor as far as your cat is concerned.
Some cats go crazy for the smell, and some ignore it. Others may believe another cat has marked their territory, which can result in these cats spraying.
#3 Simple: Flavor
Hopefully, you’ll agree with me when I say that the idea of licking the floor doesn’t set my tastebuds tingling.
However, your cat’s tastes are very different from your own. And their finely tuned noses also allow them to pick up things you don’t even notice.
Many of our floors are made of composite materials. Just like plastic bags, they can contain compounds that are simply irresistible to your cat.
Likewise, concrete floors can taste of minerals, salts, and moss, all of which could be of interest to your cat.
#4 Scary: Dehydration
If your cat is licking a floor with a smooth, cool surface, it could be a sign that they aren’t getting enough water.
In the right conditions, small amounts of water can form on the surface of tiled and concrete floors due to condensation.
Even if you’re providing bowls of water for your cat, they may see this source of liquid as being preferable.
Cats don’t just shun their water bowls for condensation. Some cats prefer to drink from the faucet and other moving water sources.
Check this video to know the signs of dehydration in cats:
#5 Simple: Texture
No floor is perfectly smooth, and over time these surfaces can become even more textured due to wear and tear.
Wooden and cement floors can be particularly rough in places, and your cat may find licking them to be a pleasant experience.
Cats can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which manifests in a variety of ways, including repetitive licking.
Indeed, cat owners have reported that their cats chew on wood, which is a problem that has similar origins.
#6 Scary: Pica
What is feline pica?
Essentially it’s a condition in which cats eat objects and substances that are inedible.
It’s not just a cat thing; humans can also suffer from pica. This has no doubt helped us to better understand the condition in animals.
Pica can be triggered by many factors, one being a dietary deficiency. You can see a cat chewing on metal if he lacks nutrients in their diet.
The video below shows some signs of pica in cats.
Why Is My Cat Licking The Carpet?
Cats are unique little individuals; they all have their own list of likes and dislikes.
So while some cats may enjoy licking hard floors, it was bound to be the case that some prefer to chew on or lick carpet.
With the exception of dehydration, all of the causes mentioned above in the “Why does my cat lick the floor” section also apply to carpet.
However, there is an additional reason that applies only to cats that lick carpet. It’s something we’ve touched on already, pica.
Wool sucking is a form of pica that is often seen in kittens and younger cats. These cats will lick, suck and chew on wool and other fabrics.
It is a nursing behavior, and generally, cats outgrow it by the age of two. However, it can continue into adulthood.
There is some indication that genetics influence wool-sucking. It is more common in Oriental breeds like the Siamese and Burmese.
Carpet strands make carpets and rugs a prime target for cats affected by this behavioral compulsion.
Check out this video to also learn why cats like to lay on the floor.
What to consider when determining the cause of this behavior?
We’ll get on to the dangers of your cat licking the floor and what you can do to stop her in a moment.
First, you need to figure out which of the reasons listed above is the main cause of your cat’s behavior.
It’s very easy to jump to conclusions and assume the worst. But with a little bit of thought, you can come to a much more evidence-based conclusion.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help.
1. When Did My Cat Start Licking The Floor?
Is it something she’s always done, or is it new behavior? If it’s new, what has changed recently?
If it’s new behavior for your cat, it could indicate a recent change has caused her stress.
2. What Type of Flooring is it?
If your cat has a nutritional deficiency, the material she is licking could indicate which minerals her diet lacks.
3. What Time of Day Does it Happen?
Any sort of pattern in the time the floor licking takes place could help to spot behavior-related issues.
Your cat could be getting bored, hungry, or thirsty at these specific times. Identifying any patterns will help you to break the cycle of behavior.
4. How Often Does My Cat Lick The Floor?
If your cat licks the floor once every so often, it’s more likely they do so as part of normal cat behavior.
Conversely, if this is a habit for your cat and she’s always licking the floor, it’s a sign of a behavioral problem.
Should I Worry About my Cat Licking The Floor?
In isolation, licking the floor isn’t harmful or dangerous for your cat. The problems start when you think of all the other things that are on the ground.
Should you worry?
It depends. Here are some things to consider when deciding how harmful your cat’s licking potentially is.
The odor and taste of a cleaning product may be attractive to your cat; that doesn’t mean they’re safe for her to ingest.
Take my earlier example of bleach. Most household bleach will act as an irritant, while more concentrated forms can be poisonous.
2. The Flooring Material
Carpet and damaged concrete could cause blockages or choking if your cat swallows carpet fibers or concrete chippings.
A wood floor carries the risk of splinters and internal obstructions if your cat breaks any of the wood away.
Flooring products contain a wide variety of chemicals, including organo-tin compounds, which are toxic to the immune system.
3. Foreign Objects
No matter how much of a clean freak you are, there is always the risk that everyday objects or other items will find their way onto your floor.
If your cat is licking the floor, it’s not a giant leap for them to eat what they find down there too. Even a small stone accidentally swallowed could cause internal problems.
4 Tips For Stopping Your Cat From Licking The Floor
#1 See Your Vet
If you are ever in any doubt, seek advice from your vet. They will be able to ask you relevant questions about your cat’s behavior and make a diagnosis.
They will also help you develop a plan to stop the licking behavior and tackle any underlying health issue.
#2 Change Your Cleaning Products
If you suspect that your cleaning products’ smell or taste is what drives your cat crazy, look for an alternative.
Try using something that contains one of the smells that cats hate. Citrus is among them, so a lemon-scented product could be the perfect solution.
#3 Stimulation And Enrichment
If you believe your cat is licking the floor out of boredom, do something to brighten up their life.
Play with your cat and add some toys they can play with to keep themselves amused when you’re not home.
#4 Water sources
If you suspect she may be licking the floor for the moisture and isn’t drinking much from her bowl, look at alternative water options.
Cat fountains can be an excellent solution for cats with a natural preference for moving water.
Why is my cat licking carpets and floors?
That’s the question I set out to answer in this article.
We’ve discovered that possible reasons can range from you dropping food to a health issue called pica.
You should be more concerned if your cat is licking the floor habitually and less so if it’s just an occasional thing.
So if you are worried, use the knowledge you’ve gained here to assess the situation and discuss it with your vet.
Has your feline ever had you asking, “why does my cat lick the floor?” Tell me all about it below.
Barry Stingmore is a British content creator living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats. Barry works with the island’s animal charities to help manage and care for feral and abandoned animals. Alongside fieldwork, he works to support the charities with fundraising and raising awareness.