Cat owners are accustomed to cats licking their food or themselves. They can also be seen licking their human friends as a sign of affection and also tend to lick other cats or companion pets as a form of social bonding or a way of marking their territory. While these are all normal cat behaviour, our feline friends are eccentric animals with very peculiar characters. One of the idiosyncratic characters shared amongst cats is their tendency to lick inedible things like concrete floors, soil, plastic, and so on. You’ve probably landed on this page because you want to know whether or not this is a safe habit for your cat.
But first, why does my cat lick the floor? The reasons for this unusual habit are either behavioural or medical issues. For instance, your cat might be looking for food stuck on the floor, seeking attention, or even experiencing a dietary deficiency, an illness, or a compulsive eating disorder, among other things.
While it’s not always harmful to your cat to lick the floor, this kind of behaviour comes with a few possible issues. Your cat is likely to lick harmful things like cleaning supplies or even toxic foods like citrus or chocolate. In case of such incidences, vet fees will be the least of your worries as the effects could be fatal for your feline friend. In this article, I’m going to discuss a number of reasons why your cat could be licking the floor and what you can do to stop her from doing so. Without further ado, let’s get right into it:
Why Does My Cat Lick the Floor?
Your cat just loves unique flavours
Cats licking floors is usually a harmless habit and just their innate curiosity. If something tasty or appealing to your cat spills on the floor, she will still be able to taste or smell it long after you’ve cleaned up. Cats have highly sensitive olfactory equipment that allows them to pick up odours that are even undetectable to us. That is why if you accidentally spilt the juice from their wet food, they are capable of getting that stimulating aroma and will, therefore, lick the floor.
Additionally, some floor cleaners and polishes use the same chemicals that are found in the radiator fluid. These chemicals usually smell sweet to animals, which is why your cat will try to lick them off the floor.
Since cats can smell all kinds of things that we cannot, the type of flooring you have can also be the reason your kitty has started licking the floor. For instance, in plastic flooring, cats can smell the volatile compounds that are usually found in plastics. Cats find these compounds appealing since they smell and taste like food to them. These compounds, including those found in paints and varnish, are also intoxicating for cats and she will enjoy licking the floor as it makes her feel good.
For those with concrete or cement floor, they exude salts, mineral, and other compounds that cats find pleasant to lick. These, and wooden floors, are also likely to have vegetable matter like grass or weed growing on the surface. Your cat might appear to be licking the floor but it’s actually nibbling the plant matter in the cracks. It’s also possible that she’s eating small insects like clover mites that live on these floor surfaces. Last, but not least, concrete and cement floors are slightly rough and can be interesting for your British Shorthair to lick.
It’s hungry or thirsty
Your cat is also able to detect food residue that has gotten stuck in the gaps between floorboards or tiles. If your cat is feeling hungry, she will definitely try to eat food particles that are stuck to the floor. If she’s mostly licking cool surfaces, it could be due to dehydration. She will lick a tiled or concrete floor just to get the condensation that’s collecting on the surface.
This is a medical term for itching and it occurs in cats if they have skin sores, fleas, or allergies. The sensation can provoke your cat to lick themselves or even inappropriate things like the floor.
Licking the floor could be a sign that your cat is stressed, anxious, or bored. It could also be that she does it to get your attention. If your cat has been licking the floor for a few weeks now, this habit might develop into an obsessive-compulsive disorder where she can no longer resist the urge to lick the floor.
Oftentimes, cats licking inedible things could be a symptom of Pica. Veterinarians believe that this condition is caused by a diet deficiency, particularly if your cat’s diet is low in iron, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and/or fat. Other possible causes include genetic disposition, behavioural disorder, not to mention diseases like anaemia, hyperthyroidism, feline leukaemia, immunodeficiency virus, and so on.
How to Stop My Cat from This Unusual Behaviour
While licking the floor is generally harmless to your cat, I must say that it carries a few possible risks. Consuming non-food items can lead to poisoning, obstruction in intestines, electrocution if she licks electrical wires and even death. In that case, it’s very important to discourage this behaviour in your cat(s).
Start by providing enough food and water so your cat doesn’t have to look for alternative ways to fill her stomach. Ensure her diet contains all the necessary nutrients so she doesn’t suffer from pica syndrome.
You also need to keep your floor clean to remove any food particles that your cat might want to lick off the floor. Be sure to use cleaning products that taste bitter and smell unpleasant to cats, but pet-safe, to deter them from this behaviour.
If this unusual habit is out of boredom, provide an enriching cat-friendly environment with interactive toys and puzzle games to keep your cat preoccupied throughout the day.
Since cats licking the floor can be a sign of an underlying health problem, a visit to the vet is worth taking. That way, you will be able to rule out any medical issues and even get expert attention tailored to your British Shorthair cat’s needs. If the floor licking habit is becoming worse, you can also consult a cat behaviourist to help modify and treat this habit.
What to Consider When Determining the Cause of This Unusual Behaviour
We’ve already seen all the possible reasons why cats lick the floor. Your British Shorthair could be doing so for one or more reasons. The first step to stopping this behaviour in your cat is to know the specific reason for its actions. Here are a few things to consider that will help you figure out the main reason your cats have taken a liking to lick the floor:
When did your cat first start licking the floor?
Has your cat always been licking the floor? If she started doing so suddenly, it might help to know anything that changed or happened around that time that she started this unusual habit. For instance, if you recently moved house, she might be doing it out of stress or anxiety.
When does it do it?
The timing of this habit is another great clue. If your cat licks the floor at certain times it could be when she’s normally hungry or bored, meaning you should provide food and play at those specific times.
How often does your cat lick the floor?
If your feline is doing this unusual habit more constantly, it could be a sign of compulsive behaviour. If that’s the case, you will definitely need help from a vet or a dog behaviourist.