Originally published Dec 7, 2016
Why Cats Love Adhesives on Tape and Glue
Recently a reader described a phenomenon a lot of cat owners are familiar with: “Charlie really loves adhesive. You cannot leave any tape around where he can get it if he will bite and lick it. I found him on the dining room table this morning biting and licking an adhesive label I had pulled off a package that I had to send back yesterday. Is this something most cats like? Is it poisonous for him to lick it?”
My cats also love adhesive on tape (and I let them have at my Scotch packing tape to get a few photos for this post – but usually I have it closed up in a drawer that they can’t get to). In fact, cat forums and blogs are full of tales of kitties addicted to adhesive tape. Here’s a short rundown on why your cat might be addicted to tape, why you should be careful, and how to try and break them of this habit.
Why Do Cats Eat Tape?
Why cats like adhesive specifically is a bit of a mystery – one possible explanation is that different cats just have different preferences when it comes to the smells or textures they are attracted to. A possible root cause of a tape addiction is pica, a the condition of cats eating inedible objects. Cats can develop pica if they are weaned to early. They develop the habit of sucking on inedible items like wool or other fabrics, and more extreme cases can involve eating things like plastic (or tape). Here are a few other possible causes for cat pica:
- Cat health issues – Eating something unusual could be a sign of a deeper health issue, like feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, brain tumors, or diabetes. It could also be a sign of dietary issues, like anemia or something missing from the cat’s diet.
- Genetics – Pica could also just be a genetic trait. For example, wool sucking is more commonly found in Birman and Siamese cats. It could also be the sign of a compulsive disorder.
- Boredom – Some cats might start gnawing on unusual household items simply out of boredom or to get their owner’s attention. These cats might be in need of more stimulation in their environment.
Is Eating Adhesives Dangerous?
In a word, yes. The problem is the possibility of intestinal blockage. Cats often throw up things they can’t digest, but not always, and a case of intestinal blockage because your cat swallowed a piece of tape could be life-threatening and costly.
How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating Adhesives?
Again, your first step should be to talk to a vet to make sure your cat isn’t showing signs of underlying cat health problems, but then you can focus on keeping your cat away from tape. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep the adhesives away – Try your best to keep tape or other adhesives out of reach of your cat – for example, don’t let them in the room when you are wrapping gifts! Try using other options, like twisty ties, whenever possible.
- Taste aversion – You can make the tape less attractive to your cat by training them to associate it with a “bad” taste like bitter apple. Let your kitty smell and even taste the “bad” substance, then leave out a piece or two of tape coated with this taste. Continue to put a little of this substance on tape whenever you use it around the house, and hopefully they will start to associate the bad taste with tape.
- Increase stimulation – If your cat is chewing tape because they are bored, try to make some more time to play with your kitty or create more stimulation in their environment, such as window views, videos, or games for cats to play.
- Diversion – Give them something else to chew! If you catch them with tape, try to distract them with something safe, like a toy with a treat inside.
You can also talk to your vet or an animal behaviorist for more insight into how to deal with a cat who loves adhesives.
Does your cat love adhesives on tape and glue? How do you stop your cat from eating adhesives?