Why Do Cats Lick The Ground?

Why Do Cats Lick The Ground

Cats are known to be finicky eaters, but did you know that they also tend to lick and eat unedible things as well? Take for instance their fascination for licking plastic bags, concrete, and even soil!

So, why do cats lick the ground? The most common reasons why cats lick the ground is a dietary deficiency or a mild case of pica, a compulsive eating disorder.

Why do cats lick the ground?

We usually observe cats licking their food, fur, or coat all of which are normal cat behavior. Cats also lick other pets and companion cats because it’s a form of social bonding. They also tend to lick their owners as a sign of affection and as their way of marking territory. But it’s another story when they lick inedible things like concrete walls, plastic bags, and soil. 

Here are the common reasons why cats lick the ground:

Your cat may be experiencing a dietary deficiency.

Cats tend to lick the ground because they may be suffering from a lack of dietary nutrients like vitamins and minerals in their food. Make sure that your cat is eating a balanced diet and should you need help, you may consult your veterinary nutritionist on what food to give your cat to meet her nutritional needs.

Your cat may have a mild case of pica. 

Pica is an eating disorder among cats where they have a behavioral urge to consume non-edible things like plastic, fabric, cardboard, paper, and soil. Cats with a mild case of pica usually lick non-edible things like the ground or a wall but will not consume it except that in severe cases they may consume objects entirely which could cause major damage like intestinal blockage and toxicity. 

Here are the common causes of pica in cats:

  • feline diseases like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, brain tumor, and leukemia  
  • a behavioral disorder like stress, anxiety, or boredom
  • dietary insufficiencies like lack of fiber, vitamins, or minerals 
  • genetic disposition or may be based on a particular cat breed 
  • weaning a kitten too early 
  • a disease of unknown origin 

The common symptoms of pica in cats include the following:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting 
  • unable to keep still 
  • decrease in appetite 

Some treatment options for pica:

  • keep your pet cats busy and active by providing interactive toys and structured playtime 
  • removing inedible things away from your cat so she won’t be tempted to eat them 
  • attend to your cat’s dietary needs
  • consult a veterinary behaviorist 

Your cat just loves to explore new tastes and textures.

Sometimes, your cat’s tendency to lick the ground may just be part of her inherent behavior. Cats tend to be curious and observant of their surroundings and they can be very nosy explorers, too.  So, if you see your cat lick the ground but don’t do it often and not in a compulsive manner,  then it may be that she’s just curious about its texture and flavor. 

How to stop your cat from licking the ground

How to stop your cat from licking the ground
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi

Here are some steps that you can do to stop your cat from licking the ground:

1. Provide an enriching environment for your cat.

Make sure your cat is preoccupied with engaging and worthwhile activities so she’ll stay active and busy. Install a cat perch or cat tree, place and teach your cat to use a scratching post, and engage her with worthwhile playtime using interactive toys like cat laser, rollerball, and feather toys 

2. Keep your cat away from soil and dirt.

Try to keep your cat away from soil and dirt so she won’t be tempted to lick or even eat it. Keep her indoors and remove potted indoor plants away from your cat’s easy reach. 

3. Make soil or dirt unappealing to your cat.

Insert a strong smell that cats hate on the soil or dirt where your cat usually hangs out such as citrus and vinegar or you could also try a deterrent spray to keep your cat away from the ground or soil.  

4. Consult a cat behaviorist.

Should your cat’s licking behavior turn from moderate to worse then it’s high time to consult a cat behaviorist to assess your cat’s situation and help modify and treat the said behavior. 


There are times that we tend to worry too much when it comes to our furry pets. Cats sometimes act strangely, do weird stuff, and eat non-edible objects. Felines usually tend to lick the soil and ground if they have a minor case of pica or if they have dietary deficiencies. But most of the time, it’s just merely a case of exploring new textures and flavors.