Cats can do many weird things, and they can also try to eat many items which do not belong in their diet. Often they seem attracted to plastic bags or toys. Upon observing these behaviors, have you ever asked, “Why does my cat chew on plastic?”
The cause of such behavior can be varied. Though not necessarily harmful, it can possibly become a dangerous behavior. You need to try to narrow down the reasons for this kitty conduct.
Reasons for plastic chewing can include a health issue, a behavioral issue, or an anxiety issue, or your cat may just include such behavior in his sack of weird tricks. This plastic chewing could also be caused by pica. If your animal has pica, which is a psychological disorder that can affect both humans and animals. It causes the pica sufferer to crave and compulsively consume inedible items.
Consequences associated with pica can threaten your kitty’s life. Ingested plastic can become lodged in the intestine, which will require emergency surgery. If your kitty chews on electric cords, this action might cause burns or could actually electrocute the cat.
Inedible items a cat could consume include such non-food items as soap, dirt, or other odd choices such as plastic. If an animal has pica, it could indicate mineral deficiencies or other disorders. Take kitty for a vet visit to determine the problem.
If your cat has anxiety issues, you can help relieve their anxiety by eliminating its causes. These can include:
1) Loud noises and music. Minimize these to soothe the cat.
2) Keep to a routine for your furry friend. (These include such things as feeding times, sleep habits, etc.)
3) If your cat does not do well with children or other animals, do not take your pet into such a home.
If your cat feels comfortable and secure, he may lose his compulsion to want to chew on plastic or other harmful materials.
Cats’ innate wild side should be encouraged. It’s very possible that pieces of plastic found on the floor can catch their attention and trigger that desire to hunt and play. Provide them with a better toy, such as a laser pointer. Then kitty will be distracted from the plastic.
Try toys that allow kitty to chew on them if he so desires. Also, toys that require the cat to swat at it provide a good outlet for those natural predatory instincts.
Toys safe for the cat to attack are good. These can be such choices as toy mice, laser toys, feather wands, and puzzle feeders.
Be diligent about keeping all plastic off the floor. I’ve also had to monitor the wastebaskets, because if my cat finds crinkly plastic in there, he’ll fish it out to chew on.
If you do a regular check and keep such items in a place where the cat cannot get them, then there will be nothing dangerous to chew or swallow.
Nutrition And Food
As most food packaging includes plastic, possibly your cat smells the food remnants on the plastic wrapping and tries to eat the wrapper too. Not good — make sure you place the wrapper where the
cat can’t get to it.
Work with your vet to make sure your cat’s nutritional needs have been met. Making sure your cat gets all the necessary nutrients will improve not only your cat’s physical health but his mental health as well. A dietary change may be exactly what you need to remedy bad eating habits.
Signs that your cat has eaten (not just chewed) plastic
Watch for these warning signs which may indicate that eating plastic has made your cat sick:
- Excessive vomiting and drooling
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain. A sore or swelled stomach could mean your cat has eaten plastic that may have caused an obstruction
- Behavioral changes
All of these might indicate the cat has eaten plastic, or something else he should not eat. If you notice the above symptoms, get your kitty to the vet.
Cats keep secrets. They don’t always tell you how they feel. Pain and discomfort may not be easy to assess until the problem becomes severe. A cat with pica may have a number of problems, including inflammable bowel disease, intestinal blockage, decreased nutrition and intestinal parasites. Thus, your cat eating plastic could become a larger health issue.
Siamese or Burmese are more likely to develop pica. Take preventative measures early.
Boredom can lead to trouble. Enrich your cat’s life by making sure you have purchased his preference in toys. In this way, you help do away with boredom. Enriching involves more than toys. Include vertical space, such as a cat tree, or high shelves, hiding places, things to chew on, toys to hunt. You could also teach your cat a new trick or two.
Cat grass or catnip provide great options. Feeder toys can help fulfill his need to use his mouth. His favorite treats make such a toy a hit.
If frequently chewed items might present a danger to the cat, you can apply bitter-tasting sprays to these.
In Kodiak, one of my two black cats, Uptight Cat, didn’t chew plastic, but he loved to chow the edges of cardboard boxes. I actually encouraged this behavior, as I believe the cat chewed the cardboard because it felt good on his gums, and also cleaned his teeth a bit.
I don’t believe that every cat who chews plastic has pica. The difference between behavior caused by pica and just liking to chew on plastic boils down to whether the cat simply chews, or if he swallows and ingests it. When he doesn’t chew just because of the odor or the texture, but with the intent of consuming it, he (and you) have a problem.
A friend from my Facebook clowder group says her cat likes to chew on her shower curtain, and has left it well-marked by her teeth. However, she does not chew the shower curtain with the intent of consuming it, so though the behavior is bizarre, it will not be dangerous to the cat.
What Makes Plastic So Alluring To Cats?
It may be the texture of plastic that cats enjoy. The non-toxic plastic in the bag could pass right through the cat’s system. It’s the swallowing of the plastic, even accidentally, that can be dangerous.
Plastic toys won’t cause a problem unless you find that they easily break into small pieces. Crawling into a plastic bag could cause a cat to suffocate. To be safe, keep bags and plastic toys that break easily away from your cat.
You can find some toys that have the specific purpose of giving kitty something safe to chew on. You might also spray replacement toys with catnip spray, as that could make the toy more desirable.
Be on guard for toys that become damaged because the cat has played with them a bit too enthusiastically. Over time, they become damaged, and then it’s time for a replacement.
What unusual things does your cat chew on? Tell us in the comments below this post. Do you feel such activity endangers the cat? Let us know if you have found the perfect toy or toys that might prove helpful in changing the cat’s behavior.
Leave it to a cat to create a new problem for you to deal with. Bottom line: We want them safe and healthy.
References I used for this post: