Seeing a cat go crazy over plastic grocery bags or a plastic shower curtain can be a puzzling and frustrating experience for cat owners. It is pretty intuitive that eating plastic cannot be good for a cat, but it is harder to answer why does my cat like plastic bags in the first place, and how do I get my cat to stop eating them? Fortunately, there are some answers.
Why Cats Chew on Plastic
Ragdoll cats might chew on plastic for a variety of reasons:
- They like the crinkly sound plastic makes, or they want to make noise for attention.
- The taste of food on things like sandwich wrappers or plastic grocery bags.
- The scent of animal byproducts, such as fish oil or gelatin, which are used to make many plastics.
- They are stressed – either generally anxious or responding to something in the environment, such as a thunderstorm.
- Dental health problems
- Dietary or gastrointestinal health problems
Compulsively chewing nonfood items is a condition known as pica, and it is fairly common in cats. Cat pica can be caused by genetics, underlying health problems, or environmental factors. If your cat is regularly chewing non-food items, it might be good to check in with your vet to rule out more serious cat health problems or correct any dietary deficiencies.
What to Do If Your Cat Eats Plastic
If your cat ingests plastic, immediately take them to see the vet. Plastic can create blockages in their system that can be life-threatening – and unfortunately expensive to deal with.
To avoid reaching this point, you can take some steps to prevent your cat from eating plastic. The first step is to “cat proof” your house as much as possible – switch to a non-plastic shower curtain, put away grocery bags immediately, etc. But it is difficult to put away anything your cat might chew on, so here are a few other strategies for stopping cats from eating plastic:
- Daily Play – Your cat might simply be bored, and more regular exercise and interaction with you could give them an alternate way to expend their energy.
- Enrichment – If your cat really likes the sound or texture of something they are chewing, try to get them cat toys that simulate those sensations. Getting your cat a variety of different toys that appeal to different senses can provide them with much-needed entertainment.
- Redirecting – You can also work on training your cat or regularly redirecting them as you would with any unwanted behavior.
Because there are such a wide variety of reasons why cats chew plastic, it is good to first talk to your vet about your cat to make sure the chewing isn’t a sign of something more serious. Then work on other ways to meet your cat’s craving!
Does your cat chew on plastic? What tips do you have for stopping this habit?