My husband and I have four cats and a dog. One of these cats is a female, spayed, 9 years old, and licks everything. Floors, walls, bags, especially me. She lays on the keyboard tray while I am on the computer. If my hand is anywhere near her face, she licks me. She licks so much she makes sore spots on me. Yesterday, she was licking my leg. I don’t really mind it until it starts to hurt. I asked a vet about this behavior once, and all he said was “I don’t know”. Can you give me any insight as to why she does this? None of the other cats do this.
– Laurie, via email
Excessive licking is not uncommon in cats. Cats lick to groom themselves, but sometimes, things like boredom, stress, pain, and even nutritional deficiencies can lead to excessive licking of themselves as well as other things around the home.
Regardless of the reason, however, it can become an obsessive-compulsive behavior that can be difficult to break, if not treated.
Talk to your new veterinarian (hint, hint) about temporary medication that can help interrupt obsessive-compulsive behaviors. While on the medication, make sure your cat is not stressed by anything new in the home. Also, engage her in a lot more one-on-one play time to reduce her compulsive need to lick. Get some toys that encourage her to use her hunting behaviors or a laser light she can chase around a room. Exercise for her body can help reduce this compulsive behavior.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal