Quirky, eccentric, obsessive, adorable… Call it what you will, but our feline friends can be a little strange sometimes. We could probably write a novel on why cats do the things that they do, but for now, we are going to concentrate on one idiosyncratic behavior shared amongst the kitty population.

Join us as Billings Animal Family Hospital attempts to explain why your cat licking the carpet can indicate a range of issues.

Grooming Behavior in Cats

Grooming is an essential part of being a cat. Kittens learn to groom themselves shortly after birth, and cats continue to groom themselves and each other for the rest of their lives. Grooming serves some very important functions, including:

  • Keeping the coat clean
  • Stimulating skin oil production
  • Improving circulation
  • Removing parasites and other contaminants
  • Preventing hairballs
  • Socialization

In fact, a normal cat may spend up to half of his or her day grooming!

Your Cat Licking the Carpet Explained

Not all cats lick for the same reason. If your cat is obsessive about your living room rug, you may explore some the of the following reasons that could cause this behavior:

Pica – Especially if your cat is actually ingesting the carpet (which, red flag, this can lead to serious medical complications), he or she may be trying to tell you something. Actual pica can indicate an underlying health issue or diet deficiency.

Exploration – Face it, your carpet smells. Be it food spills, pet accidents, or cleaning products, your cat may just be obsessed with the taste of a six-month-old SpaghettiOs accident.

Grooming obstacles – Cats who cannot reach areas to groom may redirect grooming to something more accessible. Check and see if your cat is able to reach his or her rear end and middle of the back. A good brushing session may be in order if not. Weight loss can help alleviate this issue.

Pruritis – Pruritis, the medical term for itching, is often a culprit for grooming inappropriate things. Does your cat have fleas, skin sores, or signs of an allergy?

Behavioral – Cats can sometimes manifest stress or obsessive-compulsive tendencies in the form of licking.

Some licking behavior is totally normal, but if your cat is compulsively licking, we should probably examine him or her. A cat licking the carpet may be a little humorous, but if he or she is ingesting carpet strands, it is time for us to take a look.

Cats can have some strange behaviors and still be within the realm of normal, but it is important not to overlook a symptom of a serious issue.