Cats sometimes do the weirdest things, and licking the floor is just one way that cats sometimes confound their human servants. The good news is that this behavior is relatively normal, at least by cat standards, and has some benign causes.
The 6 Possible Reasons Why a Cat Might Lick the Floor
1. There’s Food on the Floor
One of the main reasons your cat might be licking the floor is to lap up anything you might have spilled. If your cat is licking your kitchen floor, there’s a good chance they just smelled something good that you might have spilled or splashed while you were cooking.
“But I cleaned it up,” you might say. Cats have much more sensitive noses than we do, especially when it comes to animal proteins. Even if you wiped up that beef juice from the floor, your cat might still be able to smell the traces left on the floor.
The floor smells whether you clean it or not; you just can’t smell it because your nose isn’t sharp enough to do so. Cats—and dogs, for that matter—tend to explore their world using their mouths. Their senses of smell and taste are very important to their understanding of the world around them.
If your cat is licking at the floor, there’s a good chance they’re just trying to understand the world around them. There may be something about the floor that smells off to them or they might be curious to see what the polyurethane coating on your hardwood tastes like.
Pica really only counts if your cat is actually eating things from the floor. If your cat is constantly eating your carpet or things off the floor, they might have pica—a medical condition defined by a voracious appetite for non-food items.
If your cat has pica, they’ll probably gravitate towards eating a specific non-food item, but they may have multiple items they’re attracted to eating.
Pruritus is the scientific word for itching and can cause cats to begin inappropriately grooming objects in an attempt to try and soothe the itching. If your cat is frequently itchy, they might have fleas, an allergy, or another dermal illness like skin sores.
Some cats may manifest their stress as something similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans. Cats with OCD may compulsively groom or lick things to soothe their anxiety by performing rituals that make them feel safe.
6. Difficulty Grooming Self
Cats are naturally very clean animals. They spend cats spend approximately 2-5 hours grooming themselves every day, which is a pretty big factor, between 30 and 50 percent of their waking hours considering they sleep at least 18 hours each day. If your cat is struggling to groom themselves, they may begin grooming objects, surfaces, and other animals to help soothe their natural desire to groom themselves.
It can be weird to see your cat engaging in behaviors that are objectionable to you. However, licking the floor is a relatively benign behavior that doesn’t usually warrant a trip to the veterinarian. Your cat may lick the floor for simple reasons, and this behavior rarely results in severe complications. Still, it’s best to keep an eye on this behavior since your cat may accidentally ingest something they aren’t supposed to while doing it.
Featured Image Credit: Jake Pause, Shutterstock