Plastic bags are dangerous to your cat for so many reasons. If chewed, there’s a risk of choking and intestinal blockage. Playing with plastic bags creates a risk of strangulation and suffocation. Not every cat does this behavior but if your kitty does, it can be a seemingly endless battle to keep plastic bags out of reach.
The Appeal of the Plastic Bag
Each cat is different when it comes to the attraction to the plastic bag but there are some common reasons:
Plastic bags contain lubricating chemicals known as “slip agents.” The chemicals contain stearic acid from animal fat. The slip agents are designed to keep bags from sticking together. Some cats may be attracted to the taste or smell of these chemicals.
To cut down on the use of petroleum-based plastic bags, some companies are using biodegradable bags made with products such as corn starch which may attract some cats.
The plastic bags may be appealing due to any retained food smells from the groceries that were inside, especially meat or fish.
Texture is also something to consider when it comes to plastic bag appeal. The smooth, cool surface may be appealing to lick or chew. What might have started as an interesting surface to lounge on may have escalated into licking and chewing.
The crinkly sound of the bag can also be enticing to some cats.
Boredom or Stress Could Play a Role in Why a Cat Chews Plastic Bags
The behavior may have begun because the cat had no stimulation in the environment and chewing on plastic bags provided him with some activity. Cats who don’t have enough environmental stimulation and adequate play opportunities are more vulnerable to boredom-related behaviors. Perhaps the cat is left alone for too long.
For many animals, chewing is a stress-relieving behavior. A cat who lives in a tense multicat household may have found chewing on plastic to help as a coping mechanism. There are many other stress triggers that can affect cats as well and cat parents may not notice, such as a chaotic environment, changes in the household, changes in the family or changes in schedules.
The chewing of plastic bags may be connected to mouth pain or a dental problem. Chewing may be a form of pain relief.