Why Do Cats Lick Blankets?
Cats will lick blankets for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s normal and acceptable behavior, while other times it can be an indication of an underlying medical condition.
Cats are very peculiar creatures. Every single cat owner out there has looked at their cat and wondered about some seemingly bizarre question. “Why do cats lick blankets?” isn’t exactly an uncommon question, so don’t worry.
We’re always covering questions from our readers, such as: “Why do cats stare at walls?” or even “Why does my cat eat my other cat’s whiskers?” Your question is perfectly normal and valid, so let’s dive in!
It can be adorable when your cat jumps up into your blanket-covered lap and starts kneading and purring. Some cats will start licking or even nursing on the blanket while they knead. Let’s dive in and figure out why they do this!
We want to point out that blanket licking, although not extremely common, is still common enough to not be cause for concern. However, if you have any doubts whatsoever then you need to reach out to your vet for further guidance.
Your cat was taken from their mother too early
During the first 12-16 weeks of a kitten’s life they will learn A LOT of behaviors that follow them into adulthood. Weaning a kitten away from both their mother AND their littermates too early can result in many different types of atypical behavior.
When they’re young, kittens get a sense of comfort from nursing. As they age and ween off of their mother, this sense of comfort gets outgrown. Kittens that are taken from their mothers too early don’t get a chance to “outgrow” this behavior.
As a result, this blanket-licking behavior follows them around into adulthood. If your cat is simply nursing on a blanket for comfort then there is nothing to worry about!
There are virtually no downsides to letting kittens have a longer weaning period. In fact there’s plenty of benefits from behavioral benefits (When do kittens calm down?) to health benefits (Kittens who wean longer are less likely to be overweight).
Certain breeds lick blankets more than others due to longer weening periods
Believe it or not, certain breeds are much more likely to lick or nurse on blankets than others breeds. The reason for this is that certain breeds require longer weening periods.
Breeds like Siamese and Orientals need more time with their mothers and their littermates. Many breeders and fosters don’t know this behavior so it’s common for these breeds to be weaned way too early.
Your cat has Feline Pica Disorder
You may have heard the term Pica used on those TV shows where the subject eats chalk or chews on glass. Pica Disorder is the need to eat inedible objects. Humans are not the only mammals susceptible to Pica as cats have been found to show signs of this disorder as well.
Fortunately, Feline Pica is not exactly common. However, it is definitely one of the reasons why your cat may be licking blankets.
If your cat has Pica then you will most certainly see them trying to eat other inedible objects. They might eat the carpet, they might eat dirt, they might even peel bits of paint off the wall and eat that.
Cats that have Feline Pica almost always have some sort of deficiency in their diet. If you feel your cat has Pica then you need to reach out to your vet immediately.
Finding a remedy or finding where their diet is deficient is imperative. You don’t want your cat to eat something that can hurt them!
There's food remnants or stains on the blanket
Cats have an impeccable sense of smell. Some cats have a very hearty appetite. Mix those two traits together with a human who spilled a tiny bit of food on the blanket and, guess what? You’ve got yourself a cat that’s going to lick the blanket!
Even if you immediately cleaned up the food after dropping it, your cat can almost certainly tell food was once there. Again, their sense of smell is VERY strong. It’s how they survived for thousands and thousands of years without human intervention.
There is no cause for concern if this is the case with your cat. Thankfully the remedy is easy, simply wash your blanket!
Your cat is anxious or stressed
Cats that are anxious or stressed will often take on compulsive behaviors. Whenever cats groom themselves it has a calming effect on them. Cats that are overly anxious or stressed with not only overgroom themselves but they will also start grooming other objects.
Oftentimes this stress-related response results in your cat licking blankets as a form of comfort.
Cats get anxious for a variety of reasons. They’ve very peculiar and very territorial. Slight changes in their routine or their environment can trigger stress and anxiety. Try and think back about any new changes you’ve made that may be directly or indirectly affecting your cat.
The blanket brings comfort and happiness to your cat
We’re going to end this list on a happy note! If your blanket-licking cat doesn’t fall under any of the reasons above then there’s a good chance that they’re just very happy and comfortable.
The blanket is comforting to your cat. You, their owner, make your cat feel happy and safe. Your blanket has your scent all over it. Mix all of these factors together and you’ve got yourself a cat who is so happy that they’re trying to lick your scent off of the blanket.
Is It Safe For My Cat To Lick My Blanket?
Yes, it is generally safe for your cat to lick your blanket. There are a few exceptions to this rule however.
- Is your cat only licking the blanket or are they trying to eat it?
- Does the blanket have any harsh chemicals on it? (This usually only applies to towels.)
- Is your cat licking the blanket for any of the health-related reasons we outlined above?
In most cases, it is safe for your cat to lick your blanket. The exceptions above are rare. If you feel there is any cause for concern with your cat’s blanket licking then you need to reach out to your vet so they can do a thorough evaluation. Otherwise, there’s no harm done!
Featured Image Credit: @schnurrverliebt