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Why Does My Cat Lick Windows & Window Screens? Behaviour Explained

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on January 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

bengal cat licks window

Why Does My Cat Lick Windows & Window Screens? Behaviour Explained


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats exhibit all sorts of strange and wacky behavior. For instance, you may find some cats licking windows or window screens. Sometimes, cats simply take a small lick and then ignore the window. Other times, you may notice that your feline obsessively licks the window. Either way, this behavior definitely isn’t the norm.

There are several reasons why your cat may exhibit this behavior. Usually, it isn’t a sign of any underlying problem or something to be worried about. Cats just have all sorts of strange behaviors—just like people!

However, there are some instances where you may want to pay attention. It can be hard to know the difference between an innocent lick and one that may point to an underlying health problem. But we’ll attempt to do just that in this article!


The 5 Reasons Why a Cat  Might Lick Windows and Window Screens

1. Condensation

Cats prefer to drink from natural, running sources of water. This behavior appears to be an evolutionary thing, as it is innate in many cats. While we can’t know for sure why this behavior appeared, it does seem that it likely developed because running sources of water are typically cleaner than stagnant water.

While natural, unpurified water is never going to be 100% safe, bacteria and pathogens typically develop easier in stagnant water. Therefore, running water is usually cleaner. Cats that drank running water may have been more likely to survive than those that just drank whatever water is available, passing this behavior onto their children.

When the warm air inside your house comes into contact with a cold window, condensation can happen—just like it does around a cold glass of water. Water can form on the surface of the window, though not necessarily in huge amounts. Cats can interpret this water as “running” water and drink it.

Of course, this isn’t enough water to keep your cat hydrated. However, cats typically are not thinking about that.

Some cats like drinking running water more than others. If your feline falls into this category, you may want to purchase a cat fountain, which provides running water for your cat to drink. In fact, many cats like water fountains, as it provides a fresh place for them to drink from.

2. Taste

There may be substances on your window that your cat finds tasty. Therefore, your feline may lick the window simply because it tastes good. We highly recommend using safe cleaning products for this reason. Cats may decide that they like substances that aren’t necessarily good for them, which can potentially make them sick in some situations.

Furthermore, some cats may like the coolness of the window. The cold window may feel strange on their tongue, which some cats do like. Sometimes, the texture is also a defining factor. Windows are extremely smooth, and that unique texture is a draw for some cats.

Either way, some cats simply lick windows because they like to. It’s that simple.

Cat licking its tongue
Image Credit by: Adina Voicu, Pixabay

3. Attention

If you pay attention to your feline when they lick the window, there is a likelihood that they will continue to lick the window just because you pay attention to them. Initially, they may lick the window simply because they are curious or because of one of the other reasons on this list. However, after they figure out that this behavior prompts your attention, there is a chance that they may continue licking the window for attention.

Of course, there isn’t necessarily anything troublesome about this behavior. Licking the window usually doesn’t cause any problems for your cat. Plus, there are several more troublesome ways for your cat to get your attention!

As long as it isn’t bothering you, there typically isn’t a problem with letting your cat lick the window for attention.

4. Curiosity

As we’ve hinted at before, some cats start licking windows simply because they are curious. This trait varies from cat to cat, though all cats are curious in one form or another. Some cats may only like a window once out of curiosity and then never do it again. However, others are extremely curious and may do it more than once.

Of course, this is much more common in younger cats. Like most animals, younger cats seem to be more curious than older cats. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that older cats won’t like a window because they aren’t curious—older cats have typically already licked windows when they were younger, so there is little curiosity about this practice.

Cat licking moist window
Image Credit by: sponchia, Pixabay

5. Window Material

Windows can technically be made out of all sorts of different things. Glass is quite common. However, plastic is common as well. Some types of plastic contain beef tallow, which cats can occasionally still taste. Therefore, some cats rather like licking plastic—including plastic windows.

If your cat seems to be obsessively licking the window, then it may be because it tastes a bit like beef.

Other plastics can contain pheromones. While we typically can’t pick these up, some cats can. Therefore, there is always the possibility that your cat finds the pheromones in your windows interesting. Other cats may not care about them at all, though. It all depends on the exact plastic used and your feline.

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Is a Cat Licking a Window Harmful?

While this behavior may seem strange, there is not anything harmful about it in most cases. The only situation that may make this harmful is if you use a toxic cleaner on your window. In many cases, cats may like the taste of the residue left behind by these cleaners. However, many cleaners can cause poisoning if your cat consumes enough of them.

Therefore, if you notice that your feline has a knack for licking windows, then we do not recommend using a toxic cleaner. Instead, find something that is safe for pets and children. There are many effective cleaners out there that are safe.

Furthermore, if your cat seems to be licking one specific window, you could put off cleaning that window for as long as possible. Try to limit your cat’s access to that window after you clean it, as most cleaners are most potent 24 hours after use.

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Cats may lick windows for all sorts of reasons. Most of these reasons are completely harmless. For instance, cats may lick windows simply because they are curious. Other cats may lick the window because they like the flavor of the material or the cleaner that you use. Plastic windows are especially prone to this, as many include animal products.

Typically, there is no reason to worry when your feline licks a window. However, it can mean that they are out of water or prefer running water, especially if they are currently drinking out of a stagnant bowl. If you use a toxic cleaner on the window, you may want to change cleaners until your cat stops licking the window. Many cleaners can be harmful in even very small amounts.

Featured Image Credit: Azovsky, Shutterstock

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