One common habit in cats is licking. It is a natural way of cleaning and grooming themselves or one another. But what does it mean when a cat licks non-food items?
Sometimes, a cat may start licking her paws and other stuff, such as furniture, the floors, and walls. As a cat parent, it is only normal to freak out seeing your cat indulging herself in such odd behaviors. Thus, you may be tempted to know why is my cat licking walls?
To help you out here, we have gathered 10 possible reasons behind this peculiar habit in cats. We have also listed some tips to help you stop your cat from licking the walls. So, read on to find out more about cats licking walls.
10 Reasons Behind Cats Licking Walls
If you are looking for an answer to the question, why is my cat licking walls, fret not. We are here to help you find the potential reasons behind this habit in cats and also when you should seek professional help.
Let’s take a closer look into the causes of this unusual practice in your feline fellow.
One of the reasons behind a cat licking a wall or other non-food item can be the taste. A cat may become attracted to licking something inedible because she likes its taste. The smell and taste of wall paints, varnishes, and other pigments such as wood polishes and adhesive may appeal to cats. These smells can easily attract a cat towards the wall. Since they cannot eat that specific thing, they find peace in licking them.
It is not something to worry about if your kitty licks a wall once in a while, but if it has become an addiction or obsession, you need to seek medical help. Ingesting toxic substances present in the wall paints and varnishes for a long time can harm your cat.
2. Texture or Appearance of a Surface
Another possible reason behind a cat licking walls can be its texture. The feeling or appearance of certain surfaces appeals more to our feline fellows, which can urge them to lick the surface. Tasting different surfaces may also indicate a lack of physical or mental activity. To discipline this behavior in cats, you can try engaging them in fun games and exertion.
One uncommon reason why your cat may be licking walls can be moisture. Cats need water to stay healthy and active. Dehydration can pose great risks to a cat’s health, and she shouldn’t go long without water. Thus, if you find your cat excessively licking a wall, it may indicate that she needs to drink more water. A cat licking a wall may also show water leakages behind your walls.
4. Boredom or Stress
As mentioned earlier, there can be a variety of reasons behind cats licking something excessively. However, one possible reason for this behavior can be boredom. A cat may be entertaining herself by tasting and licking the walls.
Stress can be another reason for uncontrolled licking in cats. If you notice your cat is licking walls after you have moved to a new place or when there is a change in her environment, such as an entry of a new pet in the house, this may indicate your feline pal is going through a rough patch. In such cases, giving her more attention and care can make her feel better and adapt to the change in her life.
5. Compulsive Behavior
A cat obsessively licking something can hint at a serious behavior disorder. If you find your cat is licking more than normal or is repeating certain actions non-stop, it may mean that she is struggling with a compulsive disorder. This will also include excessive chewing, panting, and pacing.
If left untreated, such behavior may lead to self-harm in your cat. Thus, it is important to take your feline pal to a vet’s clinic and get her checked.
6. Unmet Dietary Needs
Another common reason your cat’s licking can be nutritional deficiencies. A cat may be eating full meals, but she may be lacking some essential nutrients in her diet. For instance, a cat having iron deficiency may lick a wall if she finds its taste similar to some metal.
7. Health Problems Such as Pica
One of the most common eating problems among animals and humans is pica. It is an eating disorder where a person or animal consumes non-food or inedible items. Like humans, cats too can suffer from pica and eat inedible things such as cement, mud, chords, or fabric. Thus, a cat licking a wall may be due to pica. You should consult a vet if you are concerned your furry fellow might be suffering from pica.
8. To Vomit
Sometimes a cat licks a wall to induce vomiting. They do this when they have something stuck in their throat or stomach which they cannot remove. They can get rid of the items stuck in their throat or tummies by forcefully vomiting.
9. To Alleviate Dental Pain
When a cat licks something, it helps them generate saliva, which works as a natural medicine for pain. Thus, your feline fellow may be licking a wall to help ease the pain she might be having from some oral or dental problem.
10. Genetic Susceptibility or Inclination
PetMd suggests some cats are genetically more susceptible to developing pica than others. According to Alice Moon-Fanelli, Ph.D., CAAB, a certified applied animal behaviorist,
“Wool sucking, sometimes a precursor to pica, is seen more frequently in Siamese and Birman cats.” Thus, genetics may be at play to make your cat indulge in odd behaviors like wall licking.
Does Licking Walls Harm a Cat?
So, after a detailed answer to the question, why is my cat licking walls, we will now shift our attention to another important question about the effects of wall licking. Is it harmful if a cat licks a wall?
The level of harm a wall can cause depends on the type and quantity of the paint on that wall. Certain types of paints are not considered toxic for felines to ingest. A latex-based paint, for example, isn’t toxic or harmful for a cat. Thus, if you find your feline has licked a wall that was freshly painted, there is no need to panic.
You should first make yourself sure about the quantity of the paint. If you are unsure or are concerned, it is always a good idea to visit a vet and rule out the possibility of any harmful effects for your cat.
How to Stop a Cat from Licking Walls?
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you can try a number of things or home remedies to stop your cat from repeating this odd behavior. Below we have given some tried-and-tested tips for cat parents to stop their feline friends from licking the walls.
- First off, keep your cat entertained and busy. As mentioned above, your cat may have started this behavior due to boredom. So, you can try giving her more attention and indulge her in more physical activities to keep her active and entertained.
- Another remedy for excessive wall licking in a cat can be making the wall she licks taste bad. You can do this by using bitter-tasting sprays. These are specifically made for cats and are safe for pets. However, it is always better to consult a vet before trying anything new.
- Lastly, try making the appearance of the wall your feline fellow licks less appealing. This can be achieved by applying double-sided tapes or aluminum sheets. Cats dislike licking these materials and will stop licking that part of the wall.
How to Keep a Cat Stress-free?
With care and attention, you can help your cat get rid of any behavior issues such as excessive licking. As discussed earlier, one of the most common reasons behind cat licking can be stress. Thus, you should try and minimize the stress she is going through. You should also try to find the factors that are causing stress in your cat and then try to remove or reduce those factors.
Give her more time and attention so that she feels comfortable and can relax. Cats love to play, snuggle, and be close to their pet parents, so to make her happy, you should spend more time with her and give her your undivided attention.
You can also invest in a cat tree for your feline pal to keep her entertained and active. There are a lot of cat trees available in the market that are designed to provide your cat with games and physical activities.
Lastly, take care of their diet. Ensure they get to eat a nutritious and balanced diet so that they don’t lack any important nutrients essential for their bodies and well-being. You can also offer them cat treats once in a while to reward good behavior but remember to do so in moderation. Too many cat treats can become problematic for a cat and her digestive system.
Why is my cat licking walls? Now you know. The reasons behind any odd behavior in a cat can be numerous, but there is always a cure or remedy for it. Every cat behaves differently, and while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to such behavioral issues, there is still a lot you can do to help recognize the culprits behind an absurd habit and get treatment for your cat. Seeing your cat indulge in an odd or repetitive behavior may be a frightening experience, but there is no need to panic. You only need to closely monitor and observe your cat to understand the factors that may be leading to odd or obsessive behaviors. If unsure or concerned, consulting a vet is always a good idea.