Cats are clean animals, so they spend up to 50% of their time licking and grooming. But why is my cat licking the wall instead? It’s not typical for cats to lick walls, but it’s observed in some kitties. If you notice that your cat is obsessively licking the walls, something is not right. Below, I discussed the potential reasons behind this and what you need to do.
Reasons why a cat licks the wall
Cats develop weird behavior, including licking things. The following might explain why your pet is suddenly tasting your wall:
1. Your cat likes the taste.
The most common reason here is the taste of the wall. Varnishes, paint, adhesives, and wood treatments can be appealing to felines. And when the smell intrigues the kitty, licking will soon follow.
Cats tend to be attracted to varnishes because they find the smell and taste appealing. Also, some varnishes can produce psychoactive effects on cats, which is why you may notice your pet licking the wall obsessively.
This is the same reason why cats like chewing and licking plastic. Cats find the volatile compounds on the synthetic material pleasant.
Randomly licking a varnished wall is usually harmless. However, if your cat is making it a daily habit, you have to do something to stop it. The compounding effect of the toxic substance may soon take its toll on your pet’s health.
2. Your cat likes the texture.
Another reason why cats like licking walls is the texture. Tactile textured paint is very alluring for cats. They will lick and paw this for fun.
However, you should know that this behavior is common for understimulated cats. Since the cat doesn’t get enough exercise or playtime, it will seek textures that provide a relieving sensation in the mouth.
If your cat licks other surfaces with the same texture, this is probably the reason why it’s tasting the wall.
3. Your wall is damp.
One thing I learned over the years is that cats will drink anywhere except their clean water bowls. My cat Watson prefers the sink, but others will target moist walls. Take note that this can be a sign that you have water damage or leaks behind the wall.
If your cat doesn’t have access to potable water, it will be desperate enough to lick the moisture from your wall. Just like us, cats need enough water to stay healthy.
Make sure that you keep the water bowls filled with clean water. Also, you should check your walls as your house might be due for water damage remediation.
4. Your cat is bored or stressed.
Boredom can lead cats to do weird things. Licking the wall might be your pet’s way of passing the time and entertaining itself.
However, you should also consider the possibility that the cat is stressed. If the wall licking happens after moving to a new home or a sudden change in the household, your pet might be stressed. Your cat needs more attention to distract it from such behavior.
5. Your cat has compulsive behavior.
On a more serious note, your cat’s obsession with licking the wall might be a compulsive behavior. Cats with a compulsive disorder will exhibit repetitive licking, pacing, vocalizations, and chewing. These symptoms won’t manifest all at once. Some cats would be licking incessantly and just develop other symptoms as time goes by.
Take note that this compulsive behavior can evolve into self-harm. Cats may divert their wall licking into their own body. When this happens, your cat will lick and chew its body parts incessantly. This can lead to bald spots and, in worst cases, self-mutilation.
If you suspect that your cat has this condition, you should bring it to the vet’s clinic right away.
6. Your cat has nutritional deficiencies.
Another possible reason is that your cat isn’t receiving ample nutrition.
But my cat is eating a bowlful of kibble each time! Well, it’s not in the amount, but the nutritional value of the food. Your kitty might be suffering from iron deficiency, so it tends to lick the wall if it resembles the taste of metal.
Also, hungry cats might even chew and eat your drywall. This can happen but very rare unless your pet has a neurological condition.
7. Your cat has a health problem.
When it comes to weird cat behavior, it’s always important to rule out possible health problems that are causing it in the first place.
If your cat is licking and eating parts of the wall, you should have it checked for Pica. This is a condition on which animals or humans consume inedible objects. The main reason for this isn’t well-established, but it can be physiological or psychological.
Your cat’s vet may need to conduct several examinations to identify if the kitty has health problems. If the vet ruled out any health issues, the other reasons here might be behind your cat’s fascination with the wall.
How to stop a cat from licking the wall
It’s not really that hard to stop a cat from licking the wall. The following steps are what I do whenever I want Watson to stop licking or biting surfaces:
Spray it with bitter apple
Bitter apple is your bosom buddy if you want your cat to stop licking things. As the name suggests, this has a bitter taste but totally safe for animals. It’s made of natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry.
Most of the time, bitter apple doesn’t stain, but you should check the specific product you’re going to get.
If you don’t have a bitter apple spray, you can try making a lemon juice spray. Apply it to the wall, and your kitty will surely loathe the strong taste. Whatever method you use, make sure that it’s safe for the cat.
Keep the cat busy
Cats lick the wall when they are bored. With that, the simple solution is giving the kitty more attention and physical activity. This way, the cat won’t look for the wall things to occupy its time. It will also drain the pet’s extra energy.
Diverting the cat’s attention from the wall will also help. You can get interactive toys that will keep your pet engaged for hours. For my cat Watson, a synthetic feather tied to a string is more than enough to keep him happy for the entire morning.
Make the texture unappealing.
If your cat seems to like the texture of the wall, you can tape a large swath of aluminum on it. They hate touching or licking these surfaces.
If that didn’t work, you could try double-sided tape. This usually does the trick because cats don’t like the sticky sensation.
What happens if a cat licks fresh paint on the wall?
If your curious cat happened to lick fresh paint off a wall, you shouldn’t panic. A small amount of paint isn’t toxic, but it’s likely to cause irritation. However, if your cat licked a large portion of the newly painted wall, you should bring your pet to the vet’s clinic.
Take note that the toxicity level of paint depends on the type. Most latex paints are considered non-toxic. However, cats with an allergy to this material may suffer from adverse reactions.
Why is my cat suddenly licking everything?
A sudden licking obsession can be a sign of stress. You should assess your cat and evaluate what has been changed in your household. Did you bring home a new pet? Has someone passed away? These sudden modifications at home will stress a cat. And to blow off steam, your pet will lick things.
It’s important to address this behavior. Some cats will succumb to compulsive behavior if not given proper attention.
Why is my cat licking the wall then throwing up?
If your cat is licking the wall then throwing up, you have to be alarmed. Something on the wall is irritating your cat’s digestive system. It could be the presence of bacteria, which can lead to poisoning.
If the vomiting isn’t stopping, you should bring your cat to the vet. Your biggest enemy here is dehydration, so you have to act fast. The rule of thumb is that if vomiting or diarrhea isn’t abating within 12 hours, you should bring your pet to the vet.
Why is my cat licking the floor?
If your cat keeps licking the floor, something on it tastes good. It could be food bits that fell off the table, water splatters, or simply the texture of your flooring.
This is a common behavior most of the time, but you should always watch out for compulsive tendencies.
If your licks a specific spot, I suggest spraying it bitter apple or lemon juice. This will discourage your cat from licking it again.
Why is my cat licking the wall? It can be due to the taste, smell, or texture. However, some cats will lick the wall if they are bored, stressed, or suffering from a health problem. It’s best to bring the cat to the vet to rule out any underlying health condition. Discouraging the behavior by offering an alternative activity will help correct this.