Why is my cat afraid of the floor?

(She has a regular vet appointment coming up very soon, and this isn’t a veterinary emergency. Don’t worry.)

My cat has suddenly become unwilling to walk on the floor. She jumps from chair back to couch, and will climb stairs if absolutely necessary, but doesn’t want to jump down. She was even unwilling to get on the floor to drink from her water bowl (but she will jump down to eat food - it’s in a different place).

I picked her up and played with her paws a little bit - she didn’t yowl or snap, so it’s not that her paws are sensitive. She jumps acrobatically from high spot to high spot, so I don’t think she’s having hip problems that make jumping from the chair to the floor hurt any more than jumping from chair to chair.

I realize that all cats are weird, even for a cat. Why is my cat suddenly afraid of the floor?

Something scared her. My cat used to love a floor, living in a carpet house. The cat would slide and play hockey with various things whenever we’d pull the rug up and she had a floor.

Something probably spooked her, 'cause if her paws hurt she’d be hurting on the carpet or other surface. Put her on a table and if she walks, I would bet something happend. Like she was playing hockey with a spool of thread and the thread had a needle in it, and now she associates the floor with that bad thing.

The floor is lava!!

Could it be that she simply prefers to be higher up? Not unusual for some cats.

I started a thread a couple few years ago about a similar situation with my cat. What happened, was a baby opossum snuck in the house and hid for few days, leaving its scent on the floor at night.

The cat suddenly refused to walk on the living room carpet, instead jumping from the doorway, to the couch, to a chair, etc. He’d also jump from the front door to a safe spot on the kitchen floor, but would then jump over the rest of the kitchen floor. There were definite sections of the floor he would not step on.

Cats are weird.

The same thing happened to my cat and it was soon discovered that he had an allergic reaction to fleas, which we’d been having a bit of trouble with at the time. Eventually, that all got taken care of but any time he got overly stressed, it would send his allergy into overdrive. Thus he got to equating floor = fleas and even though we’ve never had a problem since, when his psychosis acts up (which is all that’s left), he does the jump-from-object-to-object thing again. So when that happens now, I know it’s time to take him to the vet for another shot.

*“The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” * Mark Twain

Do you have rocking chairs?

I was going to suggest a flea or ant infestation.

I’m unsure if this helps or if it’s just a data point.
The dog (toy poodle, who has some cat like tendencies) also gets afraid of the floor. But not always and not always the same floor. Sometimes she’ll be afraid to leave the carpet, sometimes she’ll be afraid of the kitchen floor. Occasionally she’ll be afraid of the carpet. I’ve been trying to figure out a pattern but the only pattern I see, is that she’s touched in the head.

And check your kitties claw length. If a claw got caught in the carpeting, it could cause a fear of that - alternately, if the claws are long and tick on hard surfaces, there could be a reaction to that.

Are you in a house, or in an apartment? (Could it be noises from below the floor that you can’t hear?)

Have you had any changes recently? Visitors? Carpet cleaning? Electrical grid installed in the floors? :wink:

I ended up hitting her with some over-the-counter flea medication, which seems to have solved the problem for now. Looks like that’ll keep her happy until she gets to the vet.

Thank you!

Sorry to revive a zombie, but I was wondering how this all worked out. My (indoor) cat has started playing “hot lava” recently, and I suspect it’s flea related. It started right after I put flea drops on her neck, and then the fleas start jumping off her like a sinking ship (usually right onto me), and I guess some of them landed on the floor. I’m pretty sure they’re all dead now, so I wonder if I give it a good vacuum if the cat will just gradually go back to normal.

I am dealing right now with this issue. Vet visit revealed that my cat got bit by a nasty spider. Result…panic scratching by the cat finally made wounds around the bite. Vet gave her a shot mixture of prednisone and dexamethosone. She stopped scratching, and the wound healed, but I am still living with a cat who panics about being on the carpet. She lives on one kitchen counter, the sink counter in the bathroom, and my work counter. She will go out on the patio, but only if I go with her. She has eaten 3 catnip plants (vet says that catnip calms older kitties down…kind of like kittie valium). She panics if I pick her up to move her somewhere. My life is now an endless cycle of cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom.
Tried Remedy: vacuumed all the carpet and furniture thoroughly, put throw rugs on the carpet so she will walk on them (totally useless as she knows the carpet ie; big bad spider is underneath).
She is 15 years old, and has never been sick or afraid of anything in her life. Her behavior is what is really concerning me, as she has experienced a complete personality change.
How do I know it was a spider bite? Because the night before she started the hysterical scratching, I was bitten. The itching was one of the worst things I have ever experienced. It took me 3 weeks and all sorts of treatments (Neosporin, cortisone ointment, tea tree oil and Thieves Oil) before I finally got the thing to heal. I hope this helps somebody with this issue…my bill was $400.

Any other suggestions, My cats had fleas, now won’t touch the carpet. I have to hand feed them or they won’t go the bowls on the carpets or even pee or poo in the litter box. I took them to the vet only one and now both are acting the same. Will they ever get over this fear of the carpet and get down from the table and the couch and eat and drink and play?

Same story here. Fleas. After housesitting a flea ridden dog, our carpets were infested. A short walk on the carpet would net a dozen fleas on our socks. Cat wouldn’t walk on the floor at all. Bombed the house and eventually the cat learned the carpets were ok again.