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Why Is My Cat Licking the Floor?

Why Is My Cat Licking the Floor?

To answer your question, “Why is my cat licking the floor?” consider your cat’s sharp sense of taste and smell. Your cat is picking some exciting and long-forgotten flavors on the floor. Let us explain.

Cats are strange creatures with some equally surprising behavior. Therefore, there is usually little to worry about when you catch yours licking the floor or even furniture. With her heightened sense of smell, she might have picked up an interesting scent off the floor. For example, you may have spilled and wiped some soup off the floor and thought nothing of it after. However, your cat can smell the soup as if it is still on the floor. Therefore, she will lick that section out of curiosity.

Note that this behavior could indicate something is off and needs your attention. This article highlights scenarios you can peg down to your cat being weird and those that should concern you.

Why Does My Cat Lick the Floor?

Before looking at the reasons, it’s worth noting that the type of floor matters. Cats have different reasons for licking a wooden floor to a tiled floor. Besides the matter of texture, each floor has different levels of permeability, heat retention, and reaction to cleaning products. These factors add up to make a strange habit even stranger.

1. The Floor Is Tasty

We tend to drop and spill food on the floor plenty of times daily. While we may forget about it after cleaning the floor, cats don’t. While the floor may appear clean, the smell of spilled food lingers. Cats have around 200 million odor sensors in their noses, while you have 5 million. These sensors make their sense of smell 14 times better than yours. Therefore, they can accurately locate where you spilled food and start licking.

Besides spilled food, cats may also find the floor tasty. If a plastic compound were an ingredient in the manufacture of your flooring, cats would find it delicious. Cats can pick on the rendered animal fats used in the manufacture of plastic, and they love the taste. Have you ever seen how your cat behaves around plastic bags? She probably loves getting inside one large enough to accommodate her and spending time there.

Other compounds used in making different flooring components carry plenty of exciting smells and are tasty for your cat. She will spend time sniffing those out and licking the floor in an attempt to taste it all.

White & black cat

2. She Finds the Texture and Temperature Appealing

Besides the smell, cats also find the texture and temperature of the floor fascinating. Cats love the different levels of smoothness of floors. You may have caught your cat licking the windows. That smooth surface is highly interesting for your cat. Similarly, tiles and wooden floors present different options for the cat to explore.

Temperature differences between the air and the floor are also interesting for your feline friend. She especially likes cool tile surfaces and will spend quite some time exploring that difference.

A cat may have started hunting for the smells, then got distracted by the texture and temperature. A combination of those factors will keep her fully occupied with the floor for a long time.

3. She’s Looking for a New Water Source

Your cat could be licking water on the floor, not necessarily the floor itself. Cats love exploring new water sources, which explains why you will find her all over the kitchen or bathroom floor. While they may be curious about stagnant water, cats prefer moving water.

Moving water is generally safer to drink, making spills and dripping water after a shower a great choice. Additionally, cats love different tasting water and will not miss the chance to sample what’s on the floor.

Furthermore, cats find moving water especially interesting because they can’t see it. Despite their incredibly sharp senses, cats have difficulty viewing moving water but can smell it well. That combines to make them spend plenty of time exploring water on the floor.

Keep in mind that moving water is an exciting thing that your cat will engage with for a long time. She may even prefer it to her dull and stagnant water bowl. Having seen it so many times and gotten used to it, water on the floor presents a welcome change and a chance to secure another water source.

Did you know that cats get tired of moving their whiskers? Cats use their whiskers to move food and water so they can eat and drink well. After a while, this gets tiring, promoting some cats to flip their bowls. Moving water saves them such trouble, another reason why you’ll find them interacting with water on the floor.

Laying cat

4. You’ll Pay Her Attention

Remember your reaction the first time you saw your cat licking the floor? You probably got concerned and rushed over to check on her. Some pet owners join their cats on the floor and proceed to play with them, while others film the episode. If you find it funny and laugh accordingly, you’re also giving your cat her much-needed attention.

Whatever your reaction, she knows licking the floor works since you’ll soon be fussing over her. She may not have started off to catch your attention, but she can keep going to get it eventually.

5. She Is Bored

Cats find licking to be fun. They spend close to five hours a day grooming, with licking being their primary grooming method. Cats get so good at it that they choose to pass the time licking other surfaces. The floor is an already exciting region filled with unique scents and flavors. Therefore, your feline friend will occupy her time licking it.

Additionally, licking can be calming to your cat. After a scary experience or a confrontation with another cat, your feline friend may engage in licking the floor to calm her nerves. While the standard response to conflict is fight or flight, cats have a third option; grooming. In some strange way, grooming will help your cat stay calm and handle the emotions associated with such encounters. The floor will provide an excellent licking spot if she’s done grooming herself. 

Could It Be Pruritus?

Some people attribute such licking to pruritus, a condition where your cat scratches herself excessively. Such itching is due to:

  • A viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • Allergies
  • Skin infections

The more severe the cause, the more your cat will scratch and lick herself. Therefore, you should take your cat to the vet when you notice excessive scratching.

While cats can lick the floor to soothe themselves, pruritus is too itchy to allow your cat time to lick the floor. Therefore, you cannot reasonably point to pruritus as to why your cat licks the floor.

Should I Worry?

Unless your cat is especially distressed or in pain, licking the floor is a harmless habit. However, several instances should worry you:

Pica

Cats can suffer from pica, a medical condition in which they eat non-food items. Most cats exhibit some mild form of pica at some point. For example, a cat may chew on fabric or suck woolen clothes because she stopped suckling early. In addition, since cats love plastic because of its animal fat content, you will find them chewing the material.

When your cat licks the floor, she can ingest a small amount of the flooring material. This may be tougher to accomplish on tiled floors but quite possible on other floors like wood or concrete.

Severe cases of pica usually indicate a nutrient deficiency in the cat’s diet. For example, cats with anemia tend to display most pica habits. Besides licking the floor, your cat may chew dirt and litter. Such strange behavior is a way to look for sufficient iron to replenish their red blood cells.

Therefore, if you observe your cat licking the floor excessively and eating items she shouldn’t, take her to the vet. Treatment in such cases is a simple diet modification to include more iron-rich foods.

Fluffy orange cat

Dehydration

Your cat may be dehydrated and find some moisture on the smooth and cool floor surface. As the pet owner, this behavior is perplexing, considering you provide the cat with cool water in a clean bowl. Remember the cat’s inability to see water properly? Your cat may think there is no water in the bowl, especially since clean water is odorless.

Additionally, your cat may get tired of using her whiskers. Some cats may manage to topple over the drinking bowl and lick the water off the floor. Those that can’t have to look for and lick condensation off the floor.

Furthermore, your cat cannot stand drinking from a dirty bowl. A speck of dirt is enough to put off your cat, who will go seeking other water sources. Similarly, placing the bowl too close to her food will put her off. Her ancestors, who used to hunt, would typically eat off the carcass of their prey a long way from streams and such water sources. If the carcass rotted, placing it near their water source would contaminate it. Therefore, she finds such proximity bad for her water sources.

Final Words

There are many answers to the question, “Why is my cat licking the floor?” These range from the harmless to the worrying. You can tell when you should worry by how extreme the behavior is and what other behavior your cat displays.

If she does it occasionally and acts normal every other time, you have nothing to worry about. By normal, we mean as normal as cats can act. Therefore, provide her with a clean playing and sleeping environment, a balanced diet, and plenty of activities and attention.

However, if the licking is persistent and accompanied by her ingesting other non-food items, you need to take her to the vet. It’s best to schedule regular check-ups to arrest any concerns before they get out of hand.