The Science Behind Why Cats Bite and Lick Certain Things

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Cats are the most mysterious pets who don’t have a standard behavioral pattern. Thus, it is essential to know what some actions might mean. For example, one of the most confusing actions is when a cat chews or licks certain things.

The primary reason for the licking and biting of cats is to ease any discomfort, relieve themselves of pain or reduce stress and boredom. Therefore, they mainly chew or lick things that are lying in a household, like rubber bands, carpets, blankets, bottle caps, Styrofoam, etc.

So, in the article today, we will give you detailed scientific insight into cats’ licking and biting of certain things.

Why Does a Cat Bite and Lick Certain Things?

Primarily there are 4 reasons behind a cat biting and licking things. The same has been explained below:

  • Easing Discomfort

A cat can be in discomfort for numerous reasons, like allergies, injuries, sprains, or underlying medical conditions. Usually, diseases like Cat Pica, OCD, Feline Leukemia Virus, Heartworm, Rabies, Ringworm, High-Rise Syndrome, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, etc., induce biting and licking behavior in cats.

When the cat is in discomfort, it might attempt to soothe itself of the pain. Thus, biting or licking non-living things helps the cat to ease the discomfort. Although it might not help to cure the cat, it allows them to remain calm.

  • Relieving Teething Pain

Teething is a process that starts when a kitten is two weeks or older. During the initial phase of teething, the gums of the kitten swell, and there can be a sharp pain as the teeth start setting in.

To help ease the pain during the whole process, cats find it highly comforting to chew on certain things like wires or the side edge of the cushions to relax the gums.

Besides, periodontal disease is also a teeth disease in cats where the gums bleed and swell, and before medication can help, only chewing at things can help a cat.

  • Reducing Boredom

Cats mostly like to laze around, but sometimes even they get bored. It is not always easy for the cats to feel entertained. So, they opt for licking or biting at something. It lets the cat keep their mind diverted, and they do not feel bored. If the thing moves, it becomes even more interesting for the cat, and the more it likes to bite it.

So, if your cat is bored, you can buy the UPSKY 3-Level Turntable Cat Toy. It will help your cat to stay entertained and avoid biting your household things.

  • Dealing with Stress

Like humans, cats also undergo stress and anxiety. Hence, these creatures behave restlessly, or they lay low. One of the things that can help them a little is licking or biting something.

If the cat is only licking or biting something less frequently, then you can give some space to your cat to cope with the stress. However, if the cat does it excessively, it is wise to consult a vet.

  • To Clean Themselves

Cats lick their bodies primarily when they are trying to clean themselves. Cats like to keep themselves and also their kittens clean. So, they groom their fur, remove odor, shed loose hair, and move the oils all over their body by licking themselves.

  • To Satisfy Their Itch

The cats also lick themselves to satisfy their itch. Itching can happen for many reasons, like fleas, allergies, or other skin problems. When the itch sensation starts, the cat might lick that spot to calm that itch down instead of aggravating it. The licking can also happen if they are hurt or have an injury. In such a case, you can apply the TropiClean Oxymed Cat Itch Relief Spray to get rid of itchiness.

  • To Deal with Their Emotions

A cat also goes through a lot of emotions like confusion, anxiety, stress, or distress. To cope with these emotions, a cat finds comfort in licking everything they see around themselves until they feel okay. They might also feel scared of other animals and often lick indoor plants, walls, furniture, etc., to calm themselves down.

  • To Show Their Likeness Toward Someone or Something

The best way that a cat finds to bond with a fellow cat or human is by licking it. It just shows that they are a fondness of it. While making friends, it is one of the most common acts done by domestic cats. Besides, they also lick blankets, pillows, rugs, and other household items to express that they like these objects and are their property now.

What are the Things a Cat is Likely to Bite or Lick?

Cats’ licking and biting are expected when done in moderation. Also, a cat will not bite something they think is dangerous. However, there are certain things that a cat might chew, and it can be hazardous for them.

Below is the table explaining when a cat bites more during the teething.

Frequency of bitingAge Bracket
Excessive2 to 8 weeks
Moderate8 weeks to 5 months
Less Frequent5 to 7 months
  • When They Have OCD

Cats also go through obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here a cat will repetitively chew or bit at anything for no specific reason. It is simply habitual. The best solution is to divert their attention to playful games and activities.

  • If They Suffer from Cat Pica

Sometimes, a cat can develop a knack for not only chewing inedible things but also eating inedible things. This condition is called cat Pica. It is best to contact your veterinarian about this condition.

  • When They Have Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal diseases occur when the cat’s gums are swollen and painful. In such a condition, the cat might want to bite at everything. Along with that, there are other signs like drooling, redness, or bleeding of the gums.

Below are a few inanimate objects that a cat might lick or chew in a state of discomfort or stress:

  • Caps of bottles
  • Rugs
  • Straws made of plastic or paper
  • Cords
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Yarn
  • Blankets
  • Rubber bands
  • Bubble wrap
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic bags and containers

However, keeping electrical and sharp objects away from the cat’s reach is a good idea, as biting on them can injure their gums or teeth. Also, it can threaten their lives.


Having a pet cat means caring for all its needs and keeping them healthy and happy. It is normal behavior when a cat chews or licks random household things in moderation. However, when the cat does it in overabundance, it is a red flag and needs immediate attention. It is ideal to take it to a vet to know why a cat is licking or biting everything.

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