Cats primarily lick themselves to stay clean. They also lick one another as a means of bonding, and this bonding activity could also be the reason that they are licking you, your family, and other furry members of your household. It’s also possible that they are licking household items simply because they like the taste, or even the texture, of that item.
Unfortunately, excessive licking and other activities can be a sign of boredom, stress, and possibly even because some essential nutrient is missing from their diet. The first step to prevent this excessive licking should be to identify its cause. Remember that — though it can definitely feel like it — cats don’t do things out of spite, so they aren’t licking the cover off your new sofa just to annoy you.
If this doesn’t work, or if you need additional assistance, there are some home remedies that you can try, too. Some of these are geared towards obsessive grooming but can work equally well to prevent your cat from licking the furniture, floors, walls, bathtubs, or whatever else they have become fixated on.
1. Offer More Entertainment
One of the reasons that cats lick excessively is because they’re bored. Provide your cat with more entertainment and you could stop their excessive licking habit.
You could even consider getting another cat. Some cats enjoy the company, especially if you are out at work all day, or you have other commitments to attend to when you are at home.
Spend more time giving your cat some love. Let them sit on your lap, if they want to, or give them the attention they crave.
2. Improve Their Diet
Another cause of excessive licking, especially of household items, is something called pica. This means that they are missing something important from their diet, and they are looking for an alternative source of this ingredient. They may be getting salt or even liquid from the walls and furniture.
Check that you are feeding them a good food source and consider changing to something that offers a more complete range of vitamins and minerals, if necessary. Your cat should always have access to fresh, cold water, at all times of day, so make sure they can easily reach the water bowl and that it is replenished before you go out and whenever you’re at home.
3. Make Sure Surfaces Are Clean
It could simply be that your cat is licking surfaces because they like the flavor. This is most likely to be true of tables and countertops where food is prepared or eaten and is most likely to be a problem if you have children or other pets. Clean these surfaces regularly, and also ensure that surfaces below and around the cat’s food bowl are also kept clean and debris free.
4. Use Citrus Spray
Cats supposedly hate citrus smells, and the scent of lemon not only acts as a potential deterrent for the cat but can bring a nice fresh and natural scent to any room of the house. As such, a citrus spray can work well on walls and floors, although we don’t recommend spraying it on furniture in case it discolors the fabric.
You can make your own citrus solution by simply mixing some water with a little freshly squeezed lemon juice. This is preferable to using commercially available lemon juice, which may contain additives that are potentially harmful to your cat.
When making lemon spray, remember that a little goes a long way with citrus. You should only need the juice from one lemon to make a decent amount of the spray.
Remember that cats can be a law unto themselves. While many do hate the smell of lemon, you will always find one or two that lap it up, literally.
5. Disperse Mint Around
Mint is another smell that cats hate that won’t leave your home smelling dreadful. Use fresh mint leaves, add them to warm water so that it will extract the smell better, and leave the mix to steep for a few hours. Remove the leaves and either apply the liquid directly to a surface or, for extra convenience, put it in a spray bottle so that you can apply and reapply the liquid whenever required.
6. Use Essential Oils
Some essential oils can be used in a similar way to lemon juice and mint, by creating a spray that will naturally deter cats from licking the area. Lavender, cinnamon, and lemongrass are generally considered safe for your pets and you should be able to find one of these that your cat really hates.
Don’t get too carried away when spraying any of these natural scents because while you want to prevent your cat from licking the wall or furniture, you don’t want to put them off entering a room completely. Dilute the essential oil before using it and only spray on areas that you really want to keep your cats off of.
Remember to check the ingredients of any liquid or repellent that you intend to use. Some essential oils are mixed with other ingredients to make them go further and to enhance the smell. Rather than act as a deterrent, these ingredients might prove toxic to your cat.
7. Try Training Your Cat
If you’re especially brave and have a lot of patience, you can even try training your cat to stop licking. Some people enjoy great success in training their cats, but these owners tend to be in the minority. Cats are known for being highly independent, after all.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and to prevent your cat from licking. When they jump up or near a surface that they have been licking, give them a treat before they lick. With any luck, this will take their mind away from the idea of licking, and it shows that they are being rewarded for not doing so.
You will need to be consistent, and you should also expect your cat to expect treats every time.
If you’re too late, and you fail to give a treat before your cat licks, don’t give one after the event or this will teach your cat that licking leads to a treat.
Stop Your Cat From Licking Everything
Cats lick for a variety of reasons, and it could be a sign that they have some illness, deficiency, or health complaint. If you are concerned, get them screened for feline diabetes and consult with your veterinarian, especially if the remedies above do not help combat the problem.
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