On the surface, having your cat lick the floor may seem like an unimportant act. However, when it becomes overly obsessive, it can be a sign of something more serious. Do you know why your cat is licking the floor? Read this article to find out.
As cats start to mature in their second year of life, they will often develop what is called “lick granuloma” or “floor-licking syndrome.” A lick granuloma is an area of inflammation on the tongue caused by excessive licking and chewing at an area for a prolonged period of time—in this case, your carpeted floor.
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Why is my cat licking the floor?
Changes in diet and the introduction of new flooring in the home can cause your cat to lick the floor excessively, but often there are underlying medical conditions that should be addressed. While not life-threatening, if left untreated, lick granulomas can become quite large and will cause other issues such as malnutrition, bacterial infections and even dental problems.
One of the most common causes of floor licking is allergies. Allergies are caused by an oversensitivity to certain proteins in the cat’s diet or environment. Cats may be allergic to any number of products or substances, but the most common allergies are food-related.
A cat’s diet can be a major factor in lick granuloma development due to its effect on the gastrointestinal system. Food allergies can cause itchiness on the skin, which will cause a cat to scratch and lick their paws and skin excessively. Often times this licking leads to inflammation, infections and sores that will only continue until they are properly diagnosed and treated.
Another common factor that can cause floor licking is stress and fear. When cats are in stressful or fearful situations, their natural instinct is to lick themselves to relieve their anxiety. While licking itself may not be dangerous, it will often escalate or become more frequent.
If your cat has any other medical concerns, such as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), a large parasite infestation, an enlarged prostate or urethra, urinary blockage or an enlarged thyroid gland, these should be taken into consideration before you decide to treat a floor-licking cat with flea treatment and other natural remedies.
10 reasons why your cat licks the floor
Here are the seven most common reasons why a cat would be licking his or her paws and the floor.
- Dietary allergies: Have you changed your cat’s diet recently? Did you switch brands of food during this change, and if so, did you do so gradually? Even a “grain-free” diet could contain ingredients that your cat might have an allergy to. Stray cats have different diets and exposure to different substances in the wild, including weeds with allergen properties.
So even if you feed your cat dry food, he could be licking the carpet because of his allergy to something else.
- Anxiety and stress: If your cat is stressed, he or she may lick itself to relieve the tension. Pets that live in stressful environments might also become so anxious that they develop anxiety-induced licking disorders.
- Obstructed urinary tract: If your cat has an obstruction of some type in the urinary tract (not just a bladder infection), it will strain the muscles and nerves of the urinary system, causing him to lick his paws and tail excessively to urinate as quickly as possible. This can also lead to other problems such as feline lower urinary tract disease, which is a common cause of chronic coughing and sneezing, especially when a cat is feeling stressed or anxious.
- Allergies: We already mentioned this as one of the most common causes of excessive licking, but allergies in cats can be caused by many different things. If you have a cat that was recently groomed and licked excessively during or after the grooming process, that could be a sign of an allergy to flea shampoo or grooming products.
- Food allergies: Cats are susceptible to all sorts of food allergies, including wheat, corn and soy. Even seafood can cause an allergic reaction in your cat if he’s been chewing the carpets and licking his paws with redness and inflammation around the face and mouth.
- Infection: Cats can contract infections in all sorts of ways, even from licking their paws excessively to clean themselves. Some infections, such as ringworm and feline herpes virus, can be passed from other pets and even from humans. They’re typically transmitted through something that a cat has licked or ingested, but some systemic infections can be transmitted just by exposure to the respiratory secretions of an infected cat.
- Feline odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions: Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs) are essentially very small holes in your cat’s teeth that cause him or her to chew and lick at his or her teeth incessantly. This can be caused by a variety of different things, including dental disease, pathogenic bacteria that begin to eat away at the tooth enamel or even a viral infection of the mouth and gums.
The most common cause of FORLs in cats is Feline Oral Papilloma Virus (FOPV). It’s one of the most common diseases that develops when cats bite their tongues on objects like carpet fibers.
- Soaking the bed: Cats like to have things that they can engage in during their sleep, and a soaked bed is one of their favorite things to do. Kittens especially like to play with the water in their bowl while they’re drinking, and adult cats enjoy drinking from a bowl of water as well, which can lead to all sorts of issues with your floors and carpets.
- Coughing and sneezing: If your cat’s coughing sounds quite different or deeper than usual or if he or she is continuously sneezing, this might be a sign of an illness such as pneumonia. These symptoms will indicate that your cat has developed a more severe form of a respiratory infection, which can sometimes cause them to cough and sneeze excessively.
- Parasites: If your cat has parasites, he or she may have an allergic reaction to them and lick his or her paws. Your veterinarian can diagnose many different conditions with blood tests and other diagnostic tests as well as discuss other causes of excessive licking with your cat besides parasites.
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How do i stop my cat from licking the floor?
There are many ways to keep your cat from licking the floor. Many people use a spray such as Frontline or Revolution that they can spray on the carpets they don’t want your cat to lick, but there are other things you can try as well. The following ways can be adopted in order to stop your cat from licking the floor.
- Do not give your cat a tinned fish or cat treats that are in sauces. Some cats are allergic to these kinds of treats and they will ingest them and make their fur sticky. The cat may lick his own fur to get rid of this sticky feeling. So you can use canned food and dry food or only give the cat what is good for the health of the cat, dry food.
Make it interesting for the cat by feeding small amounts at different times of day and sometimes leave some dry food outside so that he or she has something to eat while they are out on their walks
- You can use the spray on the carpets where your cats marks their territory and make sure that they are not sticky so that they do not want to touch them again. Sometimes this works for your cat, but you need to make sure that the smell or taste does not attract them again.
- You can use an enzymatic cleaner. This is so effective and it will clean up almost any odour from the carpets where your cat has had an accident. This can be used on any kind of carpet, wool and even nylon from where your cat has gone to toilet.
It will get rid of the smell of urine and also neutralise any stains that have happened as a result of this accident. And it also works for dogs as well and cats.
- You can use a spray or gel that is made specifically for cats who lick their fur or furniture etc.. This can be sprayed on the carpet where your cat has been or have licked and it will leave a nice smell. It will also take away any bad odour that your cat has left behind.
- You can use aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy which puts stress on the body and mind of a person and makes him feel more relaxed. It helps to change the brain pattern which causes excessive licking behavior of cats.
You can put some nice smelling incense in your cat’s litter box to make it smell nice, like lavender or orange oil, these smell good to you cats as well.
Excessive licking is one of the more common causes of excessive grooming in cats. It occurs most often in pet cats, but also can be a serious problem for feral or stray cats who must groom themselves to survive in the wild.
The causes for this behavior are not entirely known, but some things that may trigger it include stress and anxiety, physical discomfort caused by parasites or skin infections, allergies and certain chronic diseases. Some cats even chew on themselves when they’re bored or lonely.
When trying to determine the underlying cause for your cat’s licking behavior, schedule an appointment with your vet so he or she can run thorough tests and perform any necessary treatments that are appropriate.
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