Why Do Cats Lick Their Paws – Unveiling the Mystery


Cats are constantly licking things, like your face or the chew toy close by. Cats also have a habit of licking their paws, which is always intriguing. So, what’s the reason behind cats licking their paws?

Cats lick their paws for various reasons. It’s normal for cats to lick their paws as part of their grooming routine. However, excessive licking is abnormal and could indicate underlying issues such as allergies or anxiety.

In this article, we will provide cat owners with all the information they need to understand why cats lick their paws.

Reasons Why Cats Lick Their Paws

There are five primary explanations for why a cat might lick its paws. The first and most prevalent reasons for cats licking their paws are self-grooming and cleaning up after meals. However, cats may also lick their paws due to allergies, anxiety or stress, or a medical condition that causes irritated skin or obsessive-compulsive behavior. These are the five reasons why cats lick their paws.

They Are Grooming Themselves

Cats frequently clean themselves, and it’s completely normal for a cat to include their paws in their grooming routine. As long as the cat’s fur and skin around their paws are healthy and they aren’t excessively grooming, there’s no need for a cat owner to be concerned.

They Have Just Finished Eating

Many cat owners may observe that their cat frequently licks its paws following a meal. The cat is probably just removing any remaining food from its paws during this time. This behavior is particularly prevalent in cats that consume a significant amount of wet food.

They Have Allergies 

Cats may lick their paws excessively due to allergies, which can make their paws itchy and irritated. Along with excessive paw licking, cats with allergies may also have the following symptoms:

  • Runny eyes
  • When cats scratch near their eyes, ears, and nose
  • Sneezing and coughing 
  • Recurring ear infections 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea 
  • The skin is visibly red and irritated.
  • Enlargement in the vicinity of the paws, eyes, and mouth
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Fortunately, vets can usually treat allergies in cats without much difficulty. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s best to bring them to the vet as soon as you can. It’s worth noting that cats don’t typically show all the listed allergy symptoms, and each cat may have different signs of allergies.

They Are Anxious Or Stressed

Cats may lick their paws excessively due to chronic stress and anxiety, using this behavior as a means to comfort themselves. One can typically identify a stressed or anxious cat by observing its tense and rigid body language.

They Have Irritated Skin Or A Medical Condition 

There are other medical issues that can make a cat groom themselves too much. Usually, these issues just make the skin around the cat’s paws feel itchy and irritated. But in very rare cases, neurological problems could make a cat lick its paws too much because it’s obsessive-compulsive.

Is It Normal For Cats To Lick Their Paws? 

Yes, it’s totally fine for a cat to sometimes lick their paws. However, it’s not okay for a cat to excessively lick their paws or lick them so much that their skin looks irritated. Likewise, it’s definitely not normal for a cat to lick their paws to the extent that they have bald patches around them.

Why Do Cats Lick Their Paws And Then Rub Their Ears? 

If your cat is licking their paws and rubbing their ears, it could mean that they have allergies. Allergies in cats often make the skin around their paws and ears itchy at the same time. So, it’s a good idea to take your cat to the vet if they are constantly licking their paws and rubbing their ears.

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Why Do Cats Lick Their Paws And Rub Their Heads?

Aside from cats experiencing allergies that impact their paws and ears, their nose, mouth, and eyes can also get irritated. Consequently, if a cat licks its paws and then rubs its head, it could be a sign of allergies.

Why Do Cats Lick Their Paws After Eating? 

Cats lick their paws after they eat because they are cleaning themselves. This is particularly true if they don’t have any allergies and have just finished eating wet food. However, if your cat displays symptoms of a food allergy, like stomach irritation and itching immediately after eating, it’s important to bring them to the vet right away.

How Can I Get My Cat To Stop Licking His Paws? 

The most effective way to stop your cat from licking their paws is to address the underlying cause of their excessive licking. If your cat is licking their paws excessively because of allergies, the best solution is to treat the allergies. Fortunately, a veterinarian can easily treat the common conditions that often lead to excessive paw licking in cats.

Things To Consider

When it comes to cats licking their paws, there are a few other factors to think about. This includes why cats nibble on their paws and when self-grooming becomes a problem for their health. Here are some additional points to keep in mind regarding cats licking their paws and taking care of themselves.

Why Do Cats Bite Their Paws? 

Cats often chew on their paws to maintain their nail length. This behavior is typically normal for cats as long as it is not excessive. Additionally, there should be no indications of skin irritation around the paws, such as redness or swelling. If these symptoms are present, it is possible that a cat is biting its paws to alleviate itchiness and irritation.

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When Is Self Grooming A Health Concern In Cats? 

If cats groom themselves too much, it can be a sign of a problem. This is because excessive self-grooming in cats can result in hair loss, skin irritation, and even severe skin infections. Likewise, if cats are excessively grooming and also displaying other symptoms of allergies, chronic anxiety, or another medical condition, it could be a cause for concern. If you are worried about your cat’s grooming habits or if they are behaving unusually, it is always a good idea to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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