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Why Does My Cat Lick the Wall? (5 Possible Reasons)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat licking

As a cat owner, you know that your cat uses their tongue to clean themselves and to lap up water. But when you see them licking a wall, you may wonder what the heck is going on because it seems pointless for a cat to lick a wall.

So, what is going on with your cat? Should you be concerned? There are some possible explanations for this odd behavior, and we’ll cover them below. Here are five possible reasons why your cat may be licking a wall.

Top 5 Reasons Cats Lick Walls:

1. They Are Stressed

Licking is a compulsive behavior in cats that can be a sign of stress. If your cat is incessantly licking a wall and it seems they can’t control their behavior, maybe they are under stress.

Try to get to the bottom of why your cat feels stressed. Maybe you’ve recently gotten a new pet, have moved into a new home, or have a new baby your cat is trying to get used to. If you remove the stressor, chances are your cat will stop licking the wall and get back to normal.

It may not be possible to eliminate the cause of the stress. For example, you certainly can’t get rid of a newborn baby. In this case, you’ll have to wait it out and see if your cat adjusts. If they continue licking the wall, contact your veterinarian for some advice.

2. They Are Bored Silly

cat playing with paper towel
Image Credit: Pixel Cat Photo, Shutterstock

If your cat can’t find anything to do all day, they could be licking a wall to curb their boredom. Maybe they don’t have any toys to play with. Buy your cat a fun new cat toy and maybe even a cat tree that will keep them busy playing for hours.

If you have an indoor cat licking a wall, they are likely bored. If possible, let your cat go outdoors to explore the world. If you don’t want to give your cat free reign of the great outdoors, take them out on a harness and leash to keep them safe.

3. They Think the Wall Is Tasty

Maybe your cat is licking a wall because they like the taste. Paints, glues, wood treatments, and varnishes can taste good to cats. Maybe the wall even smells good to your cat, and they can’t resist giving it a few good licks.

You don’t have to worry if your cat is randomly licking a varnished wall now and then. However, if they do it all the time, you need to stop them. Varnish isn’t a part of a cat’s diet, and it can be harmful if consumed. If need be, remove your cat from the room and close the door behind you so they can’t get back in to continue their licking behavior.

4. They May Find the Texture Appealing

A textured wall can be appealing to a cat wherein they will lick and paw at it for fun. If your cat isn’t getting enough exercise or playtime, they may lick and paw at a textured wall for some stimulation. Keep an eye on your cat to see if they lick other things around your house that have the same texture as their favorite wall.

Again, get your cat some new toys or a cat tree to keep them occupied. Bored cats are just like bored children; they get themselves into trouble easily. Keep that feline of yours busy playing and exercising!

5. They Are Thirsty

Cat drinking from ceramic bowl
Image Credit: Pattysan, Shutterstock

If your cat is licking a wall that’s damp, like a shower wall or a wall in your basement, they may be doing it to drink. It’s not uncommon for cats to avoid their water bowls altogether and get the water they need from other places like dripping faucets, mud puddles, and damp walls.

If your cat is not drinking from their water bowl, consider getting a new water dish. Try a cat water fountain that will allure your cat with the movement and the sound of a bubbling brook. A fountain will encourage your little friend to drink more water so they stay hydrated. The best cat fountains have variable settings you can switch between to adjust the water flow.

Why Cats Do a Lot of Licking

Cats lick themselves to keep clean and lick their food bowls to get every bit of food in their tummies. Cats also lick other things to discover the world around them. It’s not all that uncommon to see a cat licking a tree, houseplant, bathtub, sink, and even weirder things.

A cat’s tongue has a very rough surface which makes it a great grooming tool. This is why your cat licks themself often as they use their rough tongue to clean their body, tail, face, and paws.

Cats also use their rough tongues to greet other cats to form bonds. Mother cats lick their newborn kittens incessantly to show affection and to stimulate their breathing and suckling.

It’s normal for a cat to lick themselves, other cats, and objects in their environment. Licking isn’t a problem with a cat unless they are licking something non-stop that could cause them harm, like a freshly painted or varnished wall.

A cat can become obsessive about licking themselves to the point that they start losing fur. If your cat is licking themselves all the time, get in touch with your veterinarian. Maybe they have a skin allergy that requires treatment. Just don’t allow the licking to get out of control wherein your cat is missing big patches of fur!


As you can see, there are several possible reasons why your cat is licking the wall. Once you determine what is causing this behavior in your cat, you can find a solution.

Maybe you need to help your cat de-stress, or perhaps you need to get your cat a new water dish. Do whatever it takes to stop the wall licking. If nothing seems to work, get in touch with your veterinarian and explain the licking behavior so your vet can determine what steps to take.

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