Our cats do weird things. For some of us, including me, that’s a big reason why we love them so much! They’re quirky, silly, and constantly entertaining. But sometimes they’re just plain strange.
And one of the strangest questions I’ve been asked by confused cat owners is why do cats lick blinds?
It can be difficult to really explain why cats lick blinds but the most likely reason is that they’re attracted to the plastic (at least in the case of vinyl blinds) and they enjoy the smooth texture on their tongue. They may also enjoy your reactions which just further encourages the weird behavior.
While those things can make blinds appealing to cats, they’re also probably just looking for something interesting to engage with and blinds make a great option!
But let’s look a little closer at why our silly cats may decide that they like licking blinds.
What Type of Blinds Do Cats Lick?
A quick check on the internet and you’ll find that cats lick every type of blind there is. From metal and wood to vinyl and fabric…along with everything in between it seems that some cats are happy to lick any type of blind.
But even across these different types of materials, there are similarities between them that could encourage cats to lick them. First off, blinds are smooth and it seems that many enjoy licking smooth textures. Licking can be a soothing behavior for cats and some felines may just prefer a smooth surface.
Second, blinds are flexible and easily manipulated by our cats. If you think about it, they’re kind of like a moving wall of fun for our cats! They can crawl behind them, push them around and of course lick them. Okay, the fact that blinds are movable by our cats doesn’t naturally lead to licking but it does means that blinds of all materials are interesting for our cats. If you add that most blinds have a dangly cord and all blinds are near the very interesting window, it’s no surprise that our cats enjoy hanging out near them!
Finally, even though there is a lot of variety to the types of blinds, the majority of blinds are made of vinyl which is a type of plastic. There’s a lot of data that suggests cats are naturally attracted to plastic so this can help explain a lot of blind licking and much of this article will focus on cats that lick vinyl blinds.
But that doesn’t mean that some of these reasons won’t apply to other types of blinds, too! With that out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper into each reason!
Reason 1: Cats Are Attracted to the Plastic
When you really think about it, cats are well known for loving plastic. We’ve written about cats that love plastic bags, cats that love licking shower curtains, and cats that love hair ties. While there are plenty of reasons why cats love playing with these items, plastic is a common denominator and it’s likely a factor for many cat’s attraction to blinds.
But why do cats love plastic so much?
We’re not entirely but we do have some very good ideas. According to veterinarian Arnold Plotnick, it’s possible that cats are attracted to the gelatin found in many plastics including the plastic used in blinds. Gelatin is sourced from animal products and it’s possible that our cats, using their extremely powerful sense of smell, can smell the animal products found in our blinds. Dr. Plotnick explains “Gelatin, in fact, is used in the manufacture of many items including the emulsion used in photographs, which may explain why my own carnivorous cat, Emma, enthusiastically licked clean all of my unattended family photos one afternoon.”
It could also be one of the many reasons why our cats first take an interest in licking the blinds. But it’s not the only explanation for why cats are attracted to plastic.
According to the folks at Canidae, plastic could mimic pheromones that our cats find interesting. For some cats, interest in blinds can quickly turn to licking.
Even if you don’t have the traditional white vinyl blinds, many different types of blinds still contain plastic (including faux wood blinds) so this reasoning may still apply!
Reason 2: You Might Be Rewarding Your Cat For Licking the Blinds
Okay, you might be rolling your eyes but our cats are paying close attention to everything we do and it’s surprisingly easy to reward strange or even unwanted behavior.
For example, if every time your cat licks the blinds you stop what you’re doing and give them attention…that’s a reward! You can see in the YouTube video at the top of the page that the little cat who decided to lick the blinds is certainly getting attention as his parents watch and record him lick away. For some cats, just being talked to is enough to keep them motivated to keep licking the blinds.
But what if you don’t want your cat to actually lick the blinds and instead of giving them attention, you pull the blinds open so they’re out of reach? That’s not encouraging, right?
Think again! Your cat has now discovered the perfect way to get the blinds open so he can see outside! This is a great example of an unintended reward. What might have started as a curious lick or an interest in plastic will turn into a strategy for your cat to get what they want.
So the next time your cat licks the blinds, consider how you’re reacting and whether or not that’s fueling your feline friend to keep up the behavior!
Reason 3: The Blinds Taste Yummy
Regardless of the type of material, blinds are likely to hold some interesting scents and tastes from around the house. This can be especially true of any blinds made of more porous materials like wood, vinyl, or fabric.
And if your blinds are in the kitchen, then this is even more likely. As you cook, all kinds of interesting scents and tastes are collecting in your blinds and your cat is ready to find them. And lick them!
Reason 4: Licking Is Soothing To Cats
Licking can be a calming process for cats and while most cats act this out by grooming, some cats may find that licking other objects is calming. As the folks at Cornell University explain:
“Over-the-top” licking does not always stem from a physical health problem; the behavior can occasionally have a psychological cause. Cats like consistency and predictability, and change can be stressful, Dr. Perry says. A recent move, the addition or loss of another pet in the home, or even a change of schedule can cause anxiety in cats. Licking – which in such cases is considered a “displacement behavior” – may calm and comfort a cat, but it can sometimes become habitual if the source of the problem is not properly identified and addressed.
While they’re primarily referring to cases of overgrooming, licking other items can also be soothing and it appears that many cats enjoy the smooth material of blinds and plastics in general.
Honorable Mention: Playing With The Blinds Is Fun
Playing with blinds is fun and for some cats licking is part of playtime. Blinds are the ultimate toy for our cats. They’re flexible, interactive, and depending on the material also make an interesting noise. Cats can attack the dangly cords on them and hide behind them for a sneak attack. What’s not to love?
Okay, but why would playtime lead to licking?
It’s normal for cats to lick their prey and while it might not seem like blinds are prey, our cats are typically acting out the hunt when they play. I’ll admit, this probably isn’t the main reason why cats lick blinds but I think it is a factor which is why I felt it had to be added as an honorable mention.
It’s Not Just One Reason
There probably isn’t just one reason to explain why your cat licks blinds. Instead, all of these reasons are working together to motivate cats to not only start but also keep up the behavior. For example, cats may start licking blinds because they’re interested in the smell of the plastic or food scents on the blinds. From there, they find that it’s pretty fun to move the blinds around and they enjoy your reactions. They might also find that licking the smooth plastic is comforting.
All these reasons come together to reinforce the blind licking behavior!
Should You Be Worried About Your Cat Licking Blinds?
For the most part, there isn’t much to be worried about. The biggest risk is likely your cat damaging your blinds and in some cases that will definitely happen. But in terms of injury or harm to your cat the risk is likely pretty low. Depending on the material of your blinds, your cat could lick and edge and have a small injury to their tongue. However, the risk of that is quite low and no more significant than if your cat licked just about anything else around the house.
While blinds can be a bit dirty, this dust probably isn’t going to bother your cat. Consider that your cat’s main way of cleaning themselves (and all part of themselves) is to lick. Dust, and plenty of other types of dirt, are being taken in as part of the grooming process and most cats have no problem handling it.
How To Stop Your Cat From Licking Blinds
There are actually several options for discouraging your cat from licking blinds. Let’s look at a few starting with the most obvious.
Keep the Blinds Out of Reach
While you probably didn’t need me to tell you this, the quickest solution is to simply pull your blinds up all the way. While this is the easiest solution it certainly isn’t the best. Not only will this not work with every type of blinds (vertical blinds for example) but it also means you don’t get any benefit from having blinds in the first place!
You can also try to limit your cat’s access to the blinds by keeping them out of the room but you’re not going to be able to keep your cat out of the living room or other common areas where there are often blinds.
Change the Type of Blinds
You could also consider changing the type of blinds you have in your home. If your cat is particularly interested in plastic then it might be time add some metal or even fabric blinds to your home. Just keep in mind that depending on the motivation for your cat’s blind licking behavior, changing the material alone might not have a profound impact.
Clean the Blinds
This is especially true of blinds in the kitchen they can quickly build up a “taste” that cats might enjoy. A quick clean can help remove some of the stuck-on flavors and might make blind licking less interesting to your feline friend. Just be careful to use cat-safe cleaners on anything your cat is going to lick. We went into detail on that in our article explaing why cats like to lick windows which you can read here.
Redirection and Play Therapy
Simply telling our cats to stop doing something usually isn’t effective.
But it’s not our cat’s fault!
Instead of just saying no, we need to understand what’s motivating our cats to pursue the behavior in the first place. Then, we can focus on redirecting the behavior to something more appropriate and discouraging the behavior we don’t want. It’s certainly more complicated than just spraying your cat with a water bottle and calling it a day- but it’s also much more effective.
So how does this play out when it comes to our cats licking the blinds?
While there are several motivations for cats to lick the blinds, many of them can be related to cats needing something to do. Sure, they might like the taste of the blinds or the attention they get from the weird behavior but one of the best ways to change the behavior is to just keep them busy!
That’s where interactive play sessions and redirection enter the picture. Many cat owners are skeptical that just playing with your cat will change behavior but I’m far from the only one saying this. Famous cat expert Jackson Galaxy explains, “Remember, cats are motivated by their primal instincts to hunt, catch, kill, and eat. They need to release this energy, and if they don’t, that’s when some pesky behavior can start (scratching furniture or your legs, knocking things off the shelves, etc.).”
So it’s not actually that far-fetched to imagine how regular play therapy could make a cat less interested in licking blinds as they have less pent-up energy to get out!
Discourage and Deter the Behavior
While play therapy and redirection are great, adding in some safe feline deterrents can help too. There are special sprays available to discourage licking but these are primarily used to deter cats from licking themselves. Not only do these have limited effectiveness, but you also don’t want to be spraying all the blinds in the house with these products. Instead, your best deterrent option is something like double-sided sticky tape placed on the ledge of the window. I recommend this clear tape on Amazon that’s specifically made for cats so that you don’t have to sacrifice style to keep your blinds clean.
Deterrents like sticky tape are supported by the ASPCA and work 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to help cats figure out where they shouldn’t go. But I do want to stress that deterrents alone don’t stop your cat from wanting to find entertainment throughout the day. In other words, it won’t fix the root of the behavior which is why it’s so important to play with your cat in addition to any deterrent you use!
That’s it, everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about why cats lick blinds. While it may seem like a simple question the behaviors of our cats can be quite complex and deserve a detailed explanation!
What do you think is motivating your cat to lick the blinds?