Why Do Cats Like To Lick And Eat Plastic?

Have you ever spotted your cat licking plastic items around your home? Is your cat trying to eat plastic bags from grocery stores? Don’t fret – your cat isn’t the only cat on the planet doing it!

Although it’s not a significantly common feline behavior, many cats do tend to lick and eat plastic. Whether it’s a plastic bag or another item that’s made out of this non-nutritional material, your cat’s attempts to lick or munch through it aren’t as phenomenal as you might think.

But why is your furball doing it? Isn’t it bad? Will something happen to your kitty? I’ll answer these and some other related questions below.

Why do cats eat and lick plastic?

Here are some of the most common reasons as to why your pet is behaving in this unnatural way. Unless you have a vet degree, I highly recommend you never attempt to self-diagnose your kitty on the web. Just call your veterinarian for any behavioral issues and leave the diagnosis to the reputable professionals.

Curiosity

We all know how curious and unpredictable kitties can get. If the plastic bag from the store is triggering fascination, then the bag probably carries some lingering scents of things that are sparking your pet’s curiosity – or even its appetite.

Predatory instincts

Even tame, amiable and lazy cats have predatory instincts. These inborn impulses may drive your kitty towards the plastic. Be it the sound its making, its shape or texture – any boring item can trigger these instincts. As long as your cat thinks that object is a possible prey, it won’t ignore it.

Compulsive behavior

Cats can indeed act as though they’re suffering from OCD, similarly to human beings. Kitties of all breeds and ages can start acting out in obsessive compulsive ways. Most cats will compulsively groom themselves, whereas others will scratch, but some may opt for chewing on plastic bags and other plastic items.

Stress

Cats experience a wide range of emotions and they can get stressed out by almost anything. As a result, the stress will drive them to some unpredictable and baffling actions, such as licking or eating plastic.

Health problems

Various complications related to your fluffy pal’s physical health could be making it munch on plastic. Diabetes, dental diseases, anemia, gastrointestinal problems and brain tumors are some of them. As I said before, don’t ever attempt to self-diagnose your cat, especially when it comes to such severe diseases.

Boredom

Last, but not least, the desire to lick and eat plastic could be derived from pure boredom. If your kitty can’t find anything that’s entertaining enough, it will make do with whatever it sees fit. And in some cases that thing will be a plastic item.

What to do if your cat is eating plastic?

The first and most important thing is to not panic. Not every possible cause of this behavior is a reason to get alarmed. What’s more, if your kitty is doing it out of stress or other health problems, it will sense your panic and that will impact it in a negative way – possibly even worsening its current condition.

Swallowing a small bit of a plastic bag or a tiny piece of another plastic item isn’t life-threatening.

However, even small foreign objects could cause indigestion, vomiting or even blockage of your pet’s digestive system. In case of the latter outcome the kitty might need surgery.

Make changes to the cat’s environment

Try to make your pet’s environment as calm as possible, but entertaining at the same time. This will not only help reduce stress, but will prevent any boredom-influenced behavior, including destructive behavior.

Focus on providing comfort with cat beds and warm, cozy hiding spots. Don’t neglect the necessity of interactive cat toys and get multiple options. And lastly – provide more than enough scratching surfaces like posts, pads, trees, and so forth.

Apply positive reinforcement

If your cat has developed a habit of licking and eating plastic, don’t punish it. Instead, apply the positive reinforcement training techniques. Make the plastic items unappealing by encouraging your cat’s interest in other items around your home, which are safer.

Call the vet

If you can’t eradicate the cat’s fascination with plastic bags or other plastic objects, call your vet. Explain the situation and if necessary, schedule a check-up. Even though it’s not uncommon for cats to chew plastic, it’s not healthy for them. What’s more, if an undiagnosed health issue is causing this behavior, discovering the problem on time can be life-saving for your kitty.

And if you’re suspecting the cat has swallowed a plastic particle, do call the doc immediately. Chances are small pieces will pass through the intestines. But if they create a blockage, your kitty will be in severe pain – not to mention the possibility of organ damage.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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