So you’ve decided to take your kitten outside for a stroll. Or maybe he’s a strictly outdoor cat.
Either way, you notice that something about the concrete lures him in and wonder: why does my cat lick the sidewalk?
Cats might lick the sidewalk because they’re thirsty or trying to pick up food spills. However, it’s also possible that there’s an underlying problem, like anemia or mineral imbalances.
Read on to find out why your pet is licking the sidewalk or rolling on it and what you can do about it.
Seeing your cat lick the sidewalk shouldn’t always be a cause for alarm. It could all boil down to simple explanations, like thirst or mere curiosity.
Let’s take a closer look at the possible reasons.
Before we jump into the serious stuff, let’s first cover the basics. If your cat is licking a slightly wet part of the sidewalk, odds are, the poor guy needs a quick sip.
It doesn’t even have to be a huge water spill, either. Even a bit of condensation on the concrete will tempt a thirsty cat to give the sidewalk a couple of licks.
This doesn’t necessarily indicate that there’s something wrong with your pet. However, the main concern here is that drinking dirty water could lead to parasite infestations or bacterial infections.
Try giving your cat enough water at home, and he should stop looking for hydration outside.
Dogs have quite a reputation for sniffing, but cats are also smell-oriented. That might be the reason why they lick the floor, be it concrete, brick, or carpet.
How so? Well, suppose someone dropped their tuna sandwich on the sidewalk earlier that day, picked it up, and threw it in the trash.
Then, your cat’s keen nose sensed the spill on the concrete and tried to lick up whatever traces were still lingering between the sidewalk tiles or in the pores.
You can tell that this is the case if your pet only licks the sidewalk occasionally. If the concrete spot is in front of your property, give it a good rinse to remove the food traces and see if your cat is still interested.
Just like us, cats are prone to anemia. As it happens, they can also suffer from pica (craving non-edible materials), which is a symptom associated with anemia.
So, an anemic cat might lick the sidewalk, chew on paper, or even try to eat litter!
A few warning signs that could pop up along with the pica are:
- Pallor (look for the gums and the bare skin around the mouth and eyes)
- Increased heart rate
Of course, it’ll be hard to confirm that your pet is anemic just by judging these signs, but a vet can tell for sure through diagnostic blood testing. The vet will also be able to tell you which type of anemia your cat has and what’s the best course of treatment in this case.
Putting blood disorders aside, one more health-related concern could be behind your cat’s licking habits, and that’s mineral imbalance.
Some felines with calcium deficiencies lick concrete surfaces, including sidewalks and garden paths.
In some cases, you can tackle this issue with supplements and call it a day. However, mineral imbalances might point to chronic kidney disease (CKD), and that’s not something you want to treat without professional help.
Plus, you don’t want to overload your cat with calcium without a valid reason. So, it’s better to check with a vet before proceeding with any OTC treatments.
Some kittens have the weirdest habits, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It could just be that your fury buddy likes the texture of the sidewalk under his tongue, after all!
Usually, cats find licking wooly surfaces soothing since the softness mimics their littermates. However, it’s still possible that your kitty would be into exploring other textures, as well.
Now that we’ve covered the common reasons behind the licking behavior, you might be wondering if these motives could be enough to get the cat rolling outside, too.
Well, there are a few reasons why your pet might decide to drop and roll on the sidewalk, but they’re not necessarily the same five causes that we’ve covered.
Instead, the peculiar behavior could be due to any of the following reasons:
- The cat is trying to mark his territory by spreading his scent around the sidewalk.
- He’s trying to calm an itchy spot.
- The cool concrete feels nice on a hot day, especially if it’s in a shaded spot (or vice versa during the cold months).
- There’s a nearby catnip plant, and the cat is reacting to it.
- He’s just being playful.
- Your unneutered female cat is in heat.
Many of the common reasons behind rolling outdoors aren’t a cause for concern. So, unless you see visible signs of danger (glass shards, dirty ground, etc.), let the cat do its thing and roll around a bit!
However, if you believe your pet’s itching is persistent, it’s better to get him checked by a vet.
Plus, it’s important to note that trap and neuter (TNR) programs are recommended for outdoor/community cats.
The goal here isn’t to limit the rolling and rubbing behaviors during heat cycles. Instead, TNR helps give the kitty a better quality of life, reduces shelter overcrowding, and protects wildlife all at the same time.
Your cat might be licking the sidewalk because he’s thirsty, anemic, suffering from mineral deficiencies, or just being the curious little fellow he is.
If the behavior persists, we’d recommend taking the cat to the vet to rule out pica and CKD as possible causes.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.