Bad kitty!
July 11, 2005 5:24 AM   Subscribe

Why does our new cat lick the walls?

Also doors and cabinets? Anyone else ever experience this odd behavior? Is it bad for the cat? If so, how do we break her of this?
posted by ZenMasterThis to Pets & Animals (25 answers total)
Doesn't everyone?
posted by Espoo2 at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2005

Possibly for the same reason that one of our cats was licking the coffee table as I was reading your question.

Seriously, our cats lick furniture all the time. It hasn't seemed to harm them.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:48 AM on July 11, 2005

Just a guess, but,..
Because paint/furniture-finish is tasty.
Same reason why little kids eat paint chips...
posted by yeoz at 5:56 AM on July 11, 2005

Is it possible another animal has sprayed there?
posted by chota at 6:21 AM on July 11, 2005

Our cat licks plastic bags. All the time. He loves plastic bags. He doesn't lick stuff off the bags, he licks and likes the bags themselves. If he went shopping and they asked him "Plastic or paper?" he would say "Paper... ha! ha! ha! Just kidding, Dotty. Give me the usual, and I'll take an extra plastic bag full of plastic bags, please. And I'll take one to lick on the way home."

Maybe your walls taste plasticky?
posted by pracowity at 6:27 AM on July 11, 2005

My cat is, um, big boned, and has numerous ways to tell me he's hungry, beacause he's hungry all the time. I assume the hungry thing that happens in the bathroom is that he licks the plastic storage thing. I don't worry about it.
posted by rainbaby at 6:36 AM on July 11, 2005

as long as no lead paint is on the walls (which does taste sweet in some strange way, I've heard, and that's why it is especially tempting to kids and pets), chalk it up to quirky kitty thing.
posted by jeanmari at 6:51 AM on July 11, 2005

re plastic bags. They have starch on them and the cats like that.
posted by Ferrari328 at 6:56 AM on July 11, 2005

Were they painted with casein paint (aka milk paint)? It's actually made out of milk.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2005

> re plastic bags. They have starch on them

That's not what everyone says. For example.
posted by pracowity at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2005

Hmm. My cat licks bags, but only certain ones. The bags which come from the pharmacy rather than the bags which come from the grocery store or market. But licking walls? She doesn't do that, though I suspect it is as harmless as my cat's licking of bags.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2005

I had a cat who licked plastic bags when he had an upset stomach. Might be something to consider - is the cat doing okay on the food you're feeding?
posted by biscotti at 7:48 AM on July 11, 2005

Our bag licker also loves vegetables -- corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, kohlrabi -- and eats plenty of Whiskas and Kitekat, so I think he's OK. He just likes plastic (the smell? the feel? the taste? the sound?).

So I suspect that ZenMasterThis's cat just likes the paint, or maybe some kind of cleaner they use, or something else about licking the walls -- the feel and smell of things, maybe.
posted by pracowity at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2005

Milk paint does contain lime though...and some of the old stuff had lead (depending on the color).
posted by jeanmari at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2005

it seems like all cats have their own weird idiosyncracies. my cat, for one, licks envelope glue. maybe in addition to the taste, your cat likes the texture? or has an itchy tongue? there is also the possibility that she is marking her territory in her own unique way.

i would check with your vet to be safe. envelope glue, if you're wondering, seems to do no harm.
posted by mandlebrotz at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2005

It could be borax-casein, rather than lime-casein (which is less common), which is supposed to be non-toxic in small doses.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:47 AM on July 11, 2005

One of my cats licks plastic bags too, but never walls. That's just weird.
posted by bshort at 9:05 AM on July 11, 2005

I found a couple of questions similar to yours here and here

Test your walls for lead if there is any doubt that they may have been painted with a lead based paint many years ago or if there is a lead based paint underneath which was painted over. The US banned lead paint in 1978.
posted by lucien at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2005

I should not read threads this funny at work. I am getting weird looks. Thanks especially to you, pracowity.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

We have a plastic-bag obsessed cat as well. I think it's just a thing. She seems to like the noise.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2005

Yet another plastic bag loving cat here. Except he chews them.

And my shoelaces, but only on my favorite stinky old hiking boots. I can't count the number of times I've gone to put them on and found the laces all soggy and slimy.

The same cat also gets all OCD and licks the roof of his own mouth like he's chewing cud.
posted by loquacious at 2:33 PM on July 11, 2005

The cat of a friend of mine likes to lick photos until the picture is completely gone. I think this cat is not so smart.
posted by Elsbet at 12:59 AM on July 12, 2005

I had a few cats who loved to lick photos (especially Polaroids) and plastic of all sorts - I found out that some kinds of plastic contain fish oil. So maybe that cat just has a fine palette.
posted by sluggo at 3:34 AM on July 13, 2005

Our cat used to go absolutely batshit insane around cantaloupe. He'd fling himself onto the counter if you cut one open. I swear he could hear it from upstairs. He preferred cantaloupe, but he'd settle happily for honeydew.
posted by hamster at 9:32 AM on July 13, 2005

my mom had a cat that loved to chew the glue edges of envelopes, as well as photos. every member of our family has several envelopes and photos with small puncture marks in them.
posted by LilBucner at 12:41 AM on July 14, 2005

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