Why Do Cats Lick Everything illustration image

Why Do Cats Lick Everything?

Have you ever stopped to wonder, “Why do cats lick everything?”

The floors, the furniture, themselves, us, clothes, and sheets can all wind up being the target of a cat’s tongue. Nothing seems to be out of the question regarding what a cat is willing to lick.

Cats might be licking everything that isn’t food if they are suffering a condition called pica– the eating of non-food items. A major cause of Pica is a nutritional imbalance. However, this is only one of several possibilities and should be considered if the licking is excessive.

Pica can be the reason why your cat is obsessively licking carpets, floors, couches, furniture, walls, curtains, blankets, bedsheets, and litterboxes. Pica can happen if a cat suffers from anemia, which in most cases, can be treated with supplements.

Other reasons could be things that we can’t see or smell, that the cat is picking up on, and feels the need to take care of it the only way they can- licking. Not every strange thing a cat might get caught doing has to mean that there’s a health issue.

However, health concerns can play a role in excessive licking when it comes to cats. It can help you to narrow reasoning down if you pay attention to the different spots that they’re licking.

Sometimes, a glance can tell the tale as to why they’ve concentrated on a particular spot or an item.

In an effort to separate the natural and concerning reasons why a cat would feel like licking odd things, each section below is broken up into two parts.

They are “Cat Reasons” and “Health-Related Reasons.” Cat reasons are things that might come naturally to a cat, and health-related reasons are things that will need to be watched out for.

Why Is My Cat Licking Carpets and Floors?

Cat just licked the floor image

Have you ever caught your cat licking your linoleum floors or even carpets? Here are some possible reasons why.

Cat Reasons

Licking linoleum or wood floors can be due to several natural reasons. Maybe you could have spilled something while walking across the kitchen with a beverage? Maybe something fell off your plate?

The cool tiles on the floor may have a small amount of condensation on the surface. Is the cat out of water?

Something else to think about- do you have ants, and have you squashed any in the approximate area the cat is licking?

If you go and check out our post “Can Cats Eat Ants,” you’ll learn that cats love the scent of a squashed ant- even if you’ve gotten rid of the carcass.

All of the same thoughts apply to carpets as well (aside from condensation). However, there is a harmless form of pica that is known as “wool-sucking.” This rather self-explaining name might categorize why a cat might be licking the carpet.

It’s found that cats who display the wool-sucking behavior stopped nursing too soon from being taken away from its mother before it was ready to go.

Health-Related Reasons

Anemia can be a health-related reason why the cat licks the floor obsessively. A change in diet could be a quick fix to stop the cat from having this issue, or perhaps a supplement that increases the cat’s intake of iron.

If that doesn’t do the trick, your vet can help you to try and make sure that the cat doesn’t have any further health issues that could be causing this behavior.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Furniture and Couch?

A lot of people equate a cat’s tongue to sandpaper. And when they’re licking the furniture, you can really hear the tongue working.

Unfortunately for owners, if a cat concentrates on one spot on a couch or any other piece of furniture, they can actually start to wear down the area.

This licking might cause some light damage to wood surfaces and create faded-looking worn spots on a fabric couch.

Cat Reasons

Depending on the materials involved, the cat might just like the taste the furniture leaves in their mouths, or how it feels on their tongue.

Is it possible that a catnip toy was sitting in the same area of the couch that the cat is focusing on? Remember, just because we don’t see anything there doesn’t mean that the cat’s sense of smell isn’t hard at work.

Aside from that, perhaps the cat is marking the area? If rubbing follows licking, then it’s probably doing more to leave its scent behind, rather than trying to take anything in.

Health-Related Reasons

Many cats can exhibit a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is a behavior that can cause your cat to obsessively clean the couch or go for quite a while, licking the leg to your favorite chair.

Any upset in the cat’s life or surroundings can cause this problem to be exacerbated.

Like the reasons above, licking furniture falls under the pica category. It could be something to cancel out with a switch-up of food to ensure the cat getting all of the necessary nutrition.

Why Is My Cat Licking My Walls and Curtains?

Cat behind the curtain

Cats can either lick or chew right down to (or through) the sheetrock if they do it often enough on the same spot. And licking curtains rarely end with licking alone when allowed to continue.

You may wind up finding your curtain with wear or discoloration in the spot of the curtain that the cat has been busy with.

Cat Reasons

Some of the most basic of reasons could be responsible for why the cat is licking the walls or the curtains. It could enjoy the texture, be attracted to the smell of the paint, or maybe even taken a liking to the taste of dust.

If the cat is concentrating on one particular area of the wall or a certain section of curtain, there’s a good chance there is something in that spot that was splashed, spilled, sprayed, or floated onto the wall.

Health-Related Reasons

Again, this is a form of pica. When there’s no clear evidence explaining why the cat is licking the walls and curtains, pica reasoning kicks in. This reasoning introduces other possibilities that have more to do with your cat than it would the objects of their attention.

Boredom or stress can be two reasons that have to do with your cat that could cause or intensify this behavior. As with the other strange licking behaviors, malnutrition can also play a hand.

Why Is My Cat Licking My Bed Sheets and Blanket?

Cat lying on the blanket licking its nose

Cats tend to understand where relaxation happens. If you allow your cats into the bedroom, there’s little doubt they associate the bed with rest- just as we do.

Cat Reasons

If you’re trying to figure out why your cat is licking the blankets or sheets, run through the reasons we’ve touched on above. Did you spill anything on them? Any ill-fated midnight snack crumbs?

Be sure to observe if the cat begins and ends with licking. Often, a cat might wind up sucking on the sheets or blankets as a means to relax. This is another form of wool-sucking behavior that we discussed with rugs.

That can be due to being removed from its mother too soon, or perhaps it just enjoys doing it as a means to settle down and relax. Some breeds of cats are more prone to do this than others. This behavior is often accompanied by the cat kneading the blanket.

Health-Related Reasons

Stress can also be a factor in this behavior. In this case, try to determine what could be stressing your cat and if there is anything you can do to help it to relax.

Per the usual, if the behavior is excessive or obsessive, it could be pica. Rather than trying to relax, it’s trying to consume, in which case the cat’s diet needs to be taken into consideration.

What if My Cat Licks the Litter Box?

Cat licking the litterbox

As clean as cats are, they don’t have certain prejudice toward nasty things in the same manner we do. If it’s something they’re willing to try out, they’ll do it without knowing why we’re freaking out over it. Yes, even eating or licking cat litter boxes, and the litter itself.

Cat Reasons

We all know what curiosity did to the cat, right? Well, curiosity can be one reason why they’re licking the litter box. This is especially true with a kitten that is in the midst of potty training. Even if an older cat has used the box, a young kitten will feel the squishy grit under its claws and see how it tastes- though it doesn’t occur more than a time or two.

Or, a litter box has a different type of litter than it’s used to. For example, switching the litter from clay to cedar or recycled paper pellets. This curiosity can tempt a cat to try it out and see what it is.

Most litter boxes are made out of plastic, which is attractive to cats, as cats often like to either lick or chew plastic. Though nobody knows absolutely why they have this attraction, suspicions are taste, texture, and scent of the plastic is something that they enjoy.

Health-Related Reasons

Pica, again, is a category that this would fall under if this is a common occurrence with your cat. The underlying source of this behavior could be that the cat has become anemic and seeks out a means to get in the nutrients that it’s lacking.

Final Thoughts

Cat licking the chair

Any one of the above behaviors is strange, but none of them are unheard of. Some breeds of cats like to lick things more than others, and some individuals within a breed will do so more than others.

Where it gets serious is when you’ve narrowed it down to anemia. Giving the cat supplements to increase its iron intake may be okay to see if it curbs the behavior. However, the question remains, “Why is the cat anemic in the first place?”

This question might have a simple answer, such as its diet. However, leukemia or kidney disease can also be causes for anemia. We go from an easy fix to a severe problem.

With such a spread of possibilities, it is better to err on the side of caution and take the cat to the vet if you find that the cat displays strong signs of pica.

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