Why Do Cats Lick Feather Toys?

Cats can be mysterious creatures, and their behaviors can often leave us scratching our heads. One such behavior is their tendency to lick feather toys. But why do they do it? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of feline behavior to find out.

You may have noticed that your cat becomes almost obsessive with feather toys, licking them over and over again. This behavior is actually a form of grooming, as cats use their tongues to clean themselves and remove any dirt or debris from their fur. However, when it comes to feather toys, their licking behavior may also be a sign of affection or playfulness.

Cats lick feather toys because they are attracted to the texture, movement, and scent of the feathers. Licking also helps them clean the feathers and remove any dirt or debris. Additionally, cats may lick their toys as a form of play or to show affection. It is important to supervise your cat during playtime and regularly inspect their toys for any signs of damage or wear.

Why Do Cats Lick Feather Toys?

Cats are curious creatures that can be easily entertained by anything that catches their eye. One of their favorite toys is feather toys, which they love to play with for hours. But why do cats lick feather toys? Let’s explore the reasons behind this behavior.

1. Instinctual Behavior

Cats are natural hunters, and they have a strong instinct to hunt and catch prey. Feather toys mimic the movements of prey, and cats love to chase and pounce on them. When a cat catches the feather toy, they may lick it to simulate grooming behavior that would occur in the wild. This is a natural instinct for cats, as they would groom their prey before eating it.

Licking the feather toy also allows a cat to detect any scent or taste that may be left on the toy. This is especially true if the feather toy has been used by other cats or has been in contact with other animals. By licking the toy, the cat is trying to identify any potential threats or prey.

2. Marking Territory

Cats have scent glands located on their tongues, so when they lick an object, they are leaving their scent behind. This is a way for cats to mark their territory and claim ownership over their toys. When a cat licks a feather toy, they are letting other cats know that the toy belongs to them.

In addition to marking their territory, licking also helps cats to feel more comfortable and secure in their environment. By leaving their scent on their toys, they can create a sense of familiarity and safety.

3. Comfort and Relaxation

Cats are known for their love of grooming, and licking feather toys can provide a similar sense of comfort and relaxation. The repetitive motion of licking can be soothing for cats and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

In addition to the physical act of licking, feather toys also provide a source of mental stimulation for cats. The movement and texture of the feathers can be intriguing and entertaining, which can help to alleviate boredom and keep cats engaged.

4. Dental Health

Licking feather toys can also have benefits for a cat’s dental health. The act of licking can help to remove food particles and bacteria from a cat’s teeth and gums, which can reduce the risk of dental disease.

In addition to the mechanical action of licking, the texture of the feathers can also help to clean a cat’s teeth. The rough surface of the feathers can help to remove plaque and tartar buildup, which can improve overall dental health.

5. Exercise and Playtime

Feather toys are a great way to encourage exercise and playtime for cats. The movement and unpredictability of the feathers can stimulate a cat’s natural hunting instincts, which can provide a fun and engaging form of exercise.

Playing with feather toys can also help to strengthen the bond between a cat and their owner. Spending time playing and interacting with a cat can help to build trust and create a positive relationship.

6. Versus Other Toys

Feather toys are a popular choice for cat owners, but how do they compare to other types of toys? Compared to toys like balls or stuffed animals, feather toys provide a more realistic and interactive play experience.

Feather toys can mimic the movements of prey, which can be more stimulating and engaging for cats. They also provide a source of mental and physical stimulation, which can be beneficial for a cat’s overall health and wellbeing.

7. Benefits of Feather Toys

There are several benefits to using feather toys as a form of enrichment for cats. They provide a way for cats to exercise and play, which can reduce the risk of obesity and other health issues. They can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can improve a cat’s overall quality of life.

Feather toys can also be a cost-effective and low-maintenance form of entertainment for cats. They are easy to clean and can provide hours of entertainment for a cat.

8. Safety Concerns

While feather toys can be a great source of entertainment for cats, there are some safety concerns to be aware of. Feathers can become detached from the toy and can be ingested by a cat, which can cause digestive issues.

It’s important to monitor your cat while they are playing with feather toys and to remove any loose feathers that may pose a risk. It’s also a good idea to supervise your cat while they are playing with any type of toy to ensure their safety.

9. Alternatives to Feather Toys

If you’re concerned about the safety of feather toys or if your cat doesn’t seem interested in them, there are several alternatives to consider. Toys like laser pointers, interactive puzzles, and catnip toys can provide a similar level of stimulation and entertainment for cats.

It’s important to find a toy that your cat enjoys and that is safe for them to use. Experimenting with different types of toys can help you find the perfect match for your cat’s personality and preferences.

10. Conclusion

Feather toys are a popular choice for cat owners, and for good reason. They provide a source of mental and physical stimulation for cats, which can improve their overall health and wellbeing.

While there are some safety concerns to be aware of, with proper supervision and monitoring, feather toys can be a safe and enjoyable form of enrichment for cats. So the next time your cat starts licking their feather toy, know that they are simply following their natural instincts and enjoying a fun and engaging playtime.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a cat owner, you might have noticed your feline friend licking feather toys. You might wonder why they do it. Here are five frequently asked questions about why cats lick feather toys.

What makes cats attracted to feather toys?

Cats are born predators, and feathers are similar to birds, which is their natural prey. Feathers are light, fluffy, and move quickly, which attracts cats’ attention. The feather toys also encourage cats to play, which is an essential part of their physical and mental health.

Feather toys also provide an opportunity for cats to practice their hunting skills. When cats play with feather toys, they mimic the movements they would use to hunt prey in the wild. This helps them stay active and engaged, which is good for their overall well-being.

Why do cats lick their feather toys?

Cats lick their feather toys for various reasons. First, licking is a way for cats to groom themselves and keep their fur clean. They also lick their toys to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on them.

Cats also lick their feather toys as a way of marking their territory. They have scent glands on their tongues, and when they lick their toys, they leave their scent on them. This helps them feel more secure and comfortable in their environment.

Is it safe for cats to lick feather toys?

Yes, it is safe for cats to lick their feather toys. However, it’s essential to ensure that the feather toys are clean and free from any harmful substances. If the feather toy starts to show signs of wear and tear, it’s best to replace it to prevent your cat from swallowing any feathers.

It’s also important to supervise your cat while they play with feather toys to prevent them from accidentally ingesting any parts of the toy.

How often should I replace my cat’s feather toys?

Feather toys are not indestructible, and cats can quickly tear them apart with their claws and teeth. It’s best to inspect the feather toys regularly and replace them if they show any signs of wear and tear.

You should also replace your cat’s feather toys if they become dirty or contaminated with any harmful substances. It’s essential to keep your cat’s toys clean to prevent them from getting sick.

Can I make my own feather toys for my cat?

Yes, you can make your own feather toys for your cat. You can use feathers from birds or buy feathers from a craft store. You can also attach the feathers to a string or a stick to make the toy more interactive.

However, it’s essential to ensure that the feathers are clean and free from any harmful substances. You should also supervise your cat while they play with the toy to prevent them from accidentally ingesting any parts of it.

Sammy likes to chew and lick feather toys. #catsplaying #cute


In conclusion, cats licking feather toys is a natural behavior that is rooted in their hunting instincts. The feathers simulate the movement of prey, and their scent attracts the cat’s attention. By licking the feathers, cats are able to gather information about their potential prey, which helps them prepare for the hunt.

While licking feather toys is generally harmless, it is important to monitor your cat’s behavior and ensure they are not ingesting any harmful materials. You can also provide your cat with other interactive toys and activities to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Overall, understanding why cats lick feather toys can help us better understand and cater to their natural instincts. So next time you see your cat going to town on their favorite feather toy, know that they are simply indulging in their primal hunting behavior.