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What’s a Lick Mat & Does It Help Cats? Pros, Cons & FAQ

Written by: Crystal Uys

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

What’s a Lick Mat & Does It Help Cats? Pros, Cons & FAQ

A lick mat is a flat silicone or rubber mat with ridges and bobbles designed to slow your cat’s eating and provide mental stimulation during mealtimes, as pets have to work to free their food. They’re incredibly easy to use; just put food on the mat, smear it, and let your cat go to town. You can use wet food, kibble, or treats! Lick mats may also help calm stressed and anxious pets by encouraging them to lick, which often encourages a sense of calm. Keep reading for more information about lick mats for cats!

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Pros & Cons of Lick Mats for Cats:

What Are the Pros of Lick Mats?

Lick mats slow down super-fast eaters. Cats that enjoy dry food often gobble meals at unhealthy speeds, sometimes resulting in gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting. Lick mats encourage cats to spend more time eating meals by requiring them to “work” for their food instead of simply scarfing down what’s in their bowl. They make mealtimes more challenging and provide mental stimulation.

Lick mats also allow your cat to use their senses in ways that draw on their natural strengths. Indoor cats rely on their humans for mental and physical stimulation. Lick mats fit right into feline enrichment programs!

fluffy cat with blue eyes next to lick mat
Image credit: Amanda | Catster

What Are the Cons of Lick Mats?

Some people suggest that lick mats made of hard materials have the potential to hurt your cat’s teeth and gums. Make sure that whichever product you purchase is made of material firm enough to challenge your pet but soft enough not to cause pain. Lick mats may not be the best option for older pets with dental conditions that make eating uncomfortable.

Make sure to include any food or treats you give your cat using a lick mat when calculating your pet’s daily caloric consumption. Being overweight is a contributing factor when it comes to developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. Ensuring your pet maintains a healthy weight is important for their overall well-being. Measuring your cat’s food is a simple, easy way to prevent over and underfeeding.

How to Select a Lick Mat for Your Cat

Lick mats often come in rubber or silicone, so make sure whatever product you select is BPA-free and food-grade. Options are available in several sizes, although smaller options are usually just fine for most cats. There are tons of designs to choose from, even fun Star Wars and Disney designs.

Look for non-skid products with suction cups on the bottom to make it easy for your cat to enjoy their meal without having to chase the lick mat. And always supervise your pet when using one of these products to ensure they don’t end up biting off a bit and eating it.

pet store
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock


What Should Be Served on a Lick Mat?

While lick mats can be great for cats, they’re only beneficial if you feed your cat healthy, high-quality cat food. The easiest way to ensure cats obtain all the necessary nutrients is to serve your buddy commercial cat food that meets American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines. Products that do so can be marketed as complete and balanced, as they contain all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients cats require for optimum health.

Your veterinarian can let you know if your cat’s weight is healthy or needs a bit of adjustment. Almost all commercial cat food comes with feeding instructions you can use to determine how much to feed your buddy. Spend a few minutes calculating what your pet needs, and take the time to measure things out to be sure you’re not giving your cat too much or too little to eat.

Is Wet Food or Dry Food Better?

Both wet and dry food are wonderful options that together offer tons of benefits. Dry food is generally higher in calories and carbohydrates. Pets require less to meet their nutritional needs, so it’s often less expensive. But too much dry food can lead to obesity. Most cats love wet food and are more than happy to gobble down anything from fish-based pâté to chicken chunks.

Because wet food has a lot of water, it’s a great way to ensure cats stay sufficiently hydrated. However, wet food tends to be more expensive as cats require more of it to meet their caloric needs. And it’s not quite as convenient since leaving wet food out for long periods allows bacteria to grow, which can make your cat sick and can attract pests.

Wet and dry pet food
Image Credit: Jiri Hera, Shutterstock

Can I Put Treats on a Lick Mat?

Yes, you can put treats on your lick mats! Treats also play a critical role in keeping cats happy and engaged. There are many treats to choose from, including brands that support dental health. Try to limit treats to about 10 percent of your pet’s diet to ensure they’re getting their nutrients from healthy, complete food sources.

Can Cats Eat Human Food on a Lick Mat?

While giving your cat a taste of your food may be tempting, it’s usually best to avoid allowing cats to snack on dishes and products made to meet human preferences and nutritional needs. Human food is often too high in fat and calories for cats, which can contribute to weight gain.

Many dishes contain products like salt and sugar that aren’t great for pets. Others include items that are toxic to cats. Restaurant meals often feature multiple ingredients, making it difficult to determine if they contain anything problematic.

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Lick mats are rubber or silicone textured mats with ridges that hold cat food or treats. They have several benefits, including slowing down fast eaters and providing mental stimulation and fun during mealtimes. I have found that my cat absolutely adores his lick mats. They’re incredibly easy to use and inexpensive. Make sure to include all the food and treats your cat liberates from their lick mat when determining your buddy’s overall daily caloric intake to prevent overfeeding.

Featured Image Credit: Amanda, Catster

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