Animals

Why Cats Chew on Plastic Bags — And How to Stop Them

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Every pet comes with their own adorable little quirks. That said, it’s important to keep an eye out for any that might actually be problematic to their health. For instance, if you’ve noticed your cat repeatedly chewing on plastic bags or other sheer plastic items in your home, it could indicate some potential health and behavior issues.

The condition is known as pica, or the urge to eat non-food items. It’s apparently fairly common in domesticated cats, according to WebMD. Aside from plastic, other frequently gnawed-on items include wool, paper, and rubber. 

Reasons Cats Chew on Plastic

There are several factors that could lead to pica symptoms in cats. Research from 2016 in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery claims that cats who were fed less “ad libitum” — meaning their bowl is always filled for them to eat from whenever they choose — were more likely to exhibit the behavior. This often resulted in unfortunate bouts of vomiting for the felines observed in the study.

Pet behavior expert Mychelle Blake elaborated further on the issue for Pet Health Network. Blake explained how plastic bags in particular can tempt cats due to the lingering smell of the groceries they once contained. She added that many bags we use are coated in cornstarch, salts, gelatin, or other substances that would make them attractive to cats. Plus, some cats simply love the sound of the crinkling plastic as they nom away on a bag.

Another major cause Blake noted: Boredom. Cats act out when they feel under-stimulated, so you should consider stepping up your playtime schedule with your feline friend. Dental and diet issues could be another culprit, which is why making a visit to the vet is always a good idea when you notice odd behavior popping up.

How to Stop Cats Chewing on Plastic

Obviously, the easiest solution is to make sure all of your plastic bags are stored where your kitty can’t gain access to them. Instead of leaving them lying around after storing your groceries, tuck them away in a designated area that is secure enough to withstand even the most determined cat. 

If your veterinarian rules out any hidden health issues, focus on giving your cat plenty of attention and entertainment. After all, you’d probably start acting a little strange if you spent most of your time alone inside the same space, too. Splurge on some toys and time with your feline and you’ll definitely have a happy cat on your hands.

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