Why Does My Cat Chew On Plastic?

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.

Cat chewing on plastic bag

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
  • Boredom

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?

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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8 Comments

  1. Cheryl Sawada says:

    My girl licks my skin– face, arms etc. Not sure if she likes the taste of my moisturizer or if there is another reason. Is it affection or should I worry?

  2. My girl loves plastic and tape! She really also loves to lick the outside of bananas?!!! Anyone else have this? She won’t touch the fruit inside, just the outside. And yes I do buy organic.

    1. Lisa Kelly says:

      I figured it was like the old photos, before ink and laser printing. Old photo developing process used fish emulsion. Cats would lick photos because they tasted like fish.

      Also, our cats use bag licking and crinkling to get us out of bed!

  3. JLSmithson says:

    Hello!

    All of our boys are plastic lickers: bags, shower curtains, the plastic covering the cat food cans… We try to minimize the amount of plastic around but the shower curtain is sort of necessary. They tend to lick plastic when they are trying to get our attention because they want to be fed. It seems they KNOW how irritating the sound of plastic licking is and they hope that it will motivate us to feed them. I think they are smarter than we are.

    JLS

    1. Coming from someone who has extreme pet peeves about certain repetitive sounds, I found this line hysterical (thank god I wasn’t drinking tea when I read it) – “It seems they KNOW how irritating the sound of plastic licking is”

  4. Great post, Jenny! Fortunately for us, Miss PSB doesn’t really get an opportunity to chew on many plastic things around here. She’s never tried chewing on the plastic bags our groceries are delivered in but we are also quick to put them away when the groceries are put away. I throw all plastic twist ties from products in the garbage and use plastic chip clips and other things to close the bags and then they are stored out of her reach. So, all in all, we are very lucky that Miss PSB doesn’t chew plastic but that’s due to our vigilance about it. And, she has lots of chew toys (catnip toys) that seem to satisfy that urge to chew.

    Thanks for the great info!

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

    1. =) chiggy used to lick plastic bags, but does not do it anymore – he licks plastic tape, but that’s because it has adhesive.

      1. Buddy is addicted to plastic. As soon as I come in with the
        groceries he dives in the bag to chew the bread bag. I asked the postman to deliver an expected parcel round the back garden yesterday but he posted it through the letter box. Buddy had a real good chew on it

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