Cats are known to be clean animals because of their habit of grooming themselves. A normal cat can spend us much as 50% of its waking time licking itself. It’s natural for a cat to lick itself regularly to be clean. Sometimes, curious cats lick other stuff also such as plants, furniture, clothing and walls. While this is not uncommon, cats can develop the habit of licking non-food items obsessively.
Why does my cat lick the wall?
The most common reasons why a cat licks the wall are the taste or smell of the wall, the texture of the wall, moisture or pica.
Taste or smell
Traces of substance that may have been recently spilled or stuck on the wall are on potential cause to entice your cat is to lick the wall. Cats are naturally curious and smelling or licking the surface because of this is normal.
Cats also take interest in varnishes and adhesives because they contain compounds that smell good or are tasty for them. The same goes with plastic, it’s fragrance and flavor may entice them.
Some volatile compounds in your paint or wall-coverings may be intriguing for your kitty also because they produce an psychoactive effect. This is the reason why cats sometimes stick their heads into plastic bags, lick and chew them. The plastic gives off a pleasant, intoxicating sensation from the fumes to cats. Although small doses will not hurt a cat, it is not something you want your cat to do for a longer period of time.
Some texture of wall coverings are also alluring for cats. Among them are smooth glosses, nubby wood-chip or soft flock wallpapers, tactile textured paint. Under-stimulated cats that may look for sensations they find in sticking their tongues over the surface of the wall. To help you determine if it’s the texture that’s driving your pet to lick the wall, check if it licks other surfaces with a similar texture.
Some cats are just plain thirsty and lick a damp wall for this reason. This should not happen if you are providing clean, fresh water accessible at all times for your pet. Don’t forget to supply your cat water especially when you will be away. Cats need a healthy amount of water to maintain their health. When they don’t get enough water, they’re prone to dehydration, kidney disease and urinary tract disease.
Some picky cats will not use a bowl for drinking and prefer drinking straight from the tap instead. Some cats are more comfortable drinking moving water. You can use motion-sensored cat water fountains that constantly circulate the water.
If your cat is constantly licking random items in your house like the ground, pillows, clothing, curtain or walls, it could be showing symptoms of pica. Pica is a term used to describe the habit of craving non-edible items. It is most frequently seen in certain breeds, such as Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese and other oriental types. However, other domestic cats with no known oriental ancestry can also suffer from pica. A few of the most commonly-hypothesized reasons cats get pica include:
- Behavioral Disorder – Pica is a learned behavior that cats do out of boredom, stress, or to satisfy a primal urge.
- Dietary Needs – Pica occurs in cats whose dietary needs are not being met, resulting in hunger, mineral deficiency, vitamin deficiency, or lack of fiber.
- Disease – Pica is a symptom of an underlying disease such as hyperthyroidism, anemia, leukemia, dental disease, diabetes and others.
Have your pet checked by a vet to ensure it’s getting the proper type of nutrients for its age, breed, size and activity level and if there are any medical issues causing this behavior.
How to stop my cat from licking the wall?
Using bitter-tasting pet deterrent sprays or other smells that cats hate on the walls will help in preventing your pet from licking them. However, some stubborn cats will move to another place or item they can stick their tongues into.
As discussed earlier, some cats are under-stimulated. To provide the stimulation your cat may need, invest in things that your cat can use to explore and play. Interactive toys such as laser toys, puzzle feeders and treat balls will help in implementing environmental enrichment for your pet. Providing your pet entertainment and activity will help it forget about licking the wall.
Make sure to also provide the diet your cat needs. It might be just hungry and thirsty, after all. And if it still doesn’t work, might as well bring it to the vet for a checkup.