What to Do to Keep My Cats From Licking Fabric?

By Mary Lougee

Cats that lick fabric benefit from behavior modification to stop this habit. Fabric licking is usually a compulsive behavior signaling frustration or stress by cats. Limiting access to fabric items, using taste deterrents and encouraging licking and chewing on appropriate toys curb his licking on inappropriate fabric items.

Limit Access

Close doors to bedrooms that have curtains and bedspreads to keep your kitty from having access to fabric items that he likes to lick. Place laundry baskets where your cat can't reach them such as in a closet with the door closed. Pick up shoes, slippers and all clothing and store them in a closet or behind a closed door.

Taste Deterrents

Spray some of the taste deterrent on a piece of tissue and put it in your cat's mouth. Allow him to taste it and spit it out. He will learn from the bitter taste and associate it with the smell to leave fabric items alone that have the same scent. Spray taste deterrent on furniture fabrics, rugs and curtains to keep your feline friend away from them.

Toys and Chews

Provide your cat with toys such as soft, furry mice for him to play with and chew on. Place several toys in an area where your cat would normally go to chew on fabric items. Thin rawhide coated with fish oil is another alternative to keep your cat busy and licking on appropriate items. Some cats like to chew on fresh, growing cat grass or toys with catnip in them.

Feeding Time Fun

Enrich your cat's mealtimes by hiding small dishes of his kibble around the house for him to find. Place dry food pieces in his toy box so he can use his inner wild instincts to search for his "prey" and devour it. Make a puzzle toy by cutting holes slightly larger than his kibble in a toilet paper roll. Squeeze one end closed and tape it shut, fill it with kibble and close the second end in the same manner. As he rolls the tube around on the floor, kibble comes out of the holes for him to eat.

Veterinarian Visit

Fabric licking may occur as a reaction to a dramatic change in your cat's life. If these suggestions don't work, call your veterinarian for an appointment to identify the cause and rule out any medical reasons for the behavior that may require medication. If your cat is not only licking but is also eating fabric it can be very dangerous and he definitely needs to see the vet.

Never punish your cat for licking fabric. It can cause more stress and worsen the unwanted behavior. To stop him in his tracks from chewing fabric items, just clap your hands to startle him so he leaves the items alone.