Why Do Cats Lick or Chew Things?

kitten licking

Cats certainly enjoy licking and chewing a variety of things, but you probably don’t know the reason behind this behavior.

While it is normal for cats to do this, it can be a sign that something is wrong with them. This is why it is so important that you get this information.

Reasons Why Cats Lick and Chew Things

There is a multitude of explanations as to why a cat might choose to lick or chew things in its environment.

1. Natural Instinct

Chewing and licking is your cat’s way of exploring their environment. These animals don’t have hands like humans, so they often rely on their mouth to get information on nearby objects. This is something that pretty much all cats do, as it is part of their biological wiring.

2. Pica

There is a medical condition known as Pica that can cause cats and other animals to lick and chew on things. There are many potential causes of this condition, such as feline leukemia, diabetes, or even a brain tumor.

Pica is really just a general term used to describe chewing and/or licking in cats due to some underlying condition. It can be difficult to narrow down the exact cause of this condition on your own. You’ll need to see your veterinarian so they can run the necessary tests.

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black cat lick

3. They are Stressed

There are a variety of behaviors that a cat might exhibit when it is stressed, including chewing and licking random things. This could be your cat’s way of relieving stress, which could be caused by a number of things.

Cats can experience a great deal of stress and anxiety when there is a new pet or even human-introduced into the household. Pretty much any major change in a cat’s routine or environment can trigger a stress response.

4. They’re trying to not be bored

A bored cat might do all sorts of things that seem crazy or eccentric. If you aren’t spending enough time with them each day, they could start acting out. Some chew and lick things, while others just run and bounce around the house.

The best way to deal with a bored cat is to devote a certain amount of time each day to playing with them. While this can be a challenge sometimes, it is important that you do it.

5. Dental Problems

It is possible that your cat has loose tooth that it is trying to get out by chewing on things. Periodontal disease is fairly common in cats, and it needs to be addressed. It is important that you take good care of your cat’s oral health.

6. Nutritional Deficiency

Even a nutritional deficiency in your cat’s diet can cause them to lick or chew various things in your home. A lot of people with cats are completely unaware that they aren’t meeting their pet’s nutritional requirements.

It is absolutely essential that you find a good cat food for your pet so they will remain healthy over the years. Cats need lots of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids in their daily diet. Take a good hard look at the food you are currently giving them and making an honest assessment.

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7. Premature Weaning

Cats that have been weaned off their mother’s milk too soon sometimes develop a strong pension for chewing or licking things. This is just one of the reasons why you should not start weaning your kitty until they are at the appropriate stage of life.

cat chewing

Keeping Your Cat Safe

If you have a cat at home that tends to chew and/or lick random things, there are certain measures you’ll want to take to keep them safe.

Cover up your cords

Make sure that all of the electrical cords in your home are covered up with thick insulation. You can also use a conduit to ensure that your cat won’t be able to chew through them.

Get Rid of any Poisonous Plants

There are certain plants that are toxic to cats, so you need to take stock of the ones you have in your home. If you currently have any of these plants, you’ll want to find another home for them.

Keep Your Home Clean

It is important that you keep your home as clean as possible on a consistent basis. This will serve to keep your cat safe while discouraging licking and chewing. Make sure that you don’t unintentionally expose your cat to any toxic household chemicals. There are plenty of cleaning products on the market that are pet-friendly.

When to see the Veterinarian

While it is true that licking and chewing are normal behaviors for cats, this can be cause for concern. If your cat is exhibiting any classic signs of illness, you should get them to the vet as soon as possible. This includes things like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargic behavior and lack of appetite.

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Your veterinarian will most likely want to run a variety of tests to find out what is causing these symptoms in your cat. This typically includes a standard blood panel and maybe an X-RAY or ultrasound. It all depends on which symptoms your cat is currently exhibiting.


  • Licking and chewing are normal behaviors that cats exhibit when exploring their environment.
  • This behavior can also be a manifestation of some illness, such as diabetes or even a brain tumor.
  • Some cats lick and chew on things to make themselves feel better when they are extremely stressed or anxious.
  • Dental problems like periodontal disease or a loose tooth can cause your cat to chew or lick random things around the house.
  • Your cat might be licking things that have your scent on them, because they just love you that much.
  • Make sure that you cover up all electrical cords in your home so that your cat doesn’t accidentally get electrocuted.
  • You should also make a point of getting rid of any potentially toxic house plants that could poison your kitty.
  • If you notice your cat exhibiting signs of illness in addition to its licking or chewing, you should take them to the vet right away.