Tuesday, June 8, 2010
A Passion For Plastic
Why do cats like to eat or lick plastic? Cody will chew on grocery bags, assorted cellophane wrappers (such as "Post-It" note wrappers as mentioned above), the plastic garbage bag ties, the plastic packaging on toilet paper and paper towels. If it's plastic, he wants it, he wants it bad and he wants it NOW.
When I first noticed this behavior, which I originally thought was bizarre ( I have now learned it is extremely common in cats) I asked my vet about it. He told me that plastic bags are now made with biodegradable ingredients such as corn starch which cats are attracted to both through taste and smell. Plastic bags that come from the grocery store also carry the scent and taste of the foods that were housed in them. Another theory is that an animal fat called "tallow" is used to make the bags. Cats can detect tallow by smell and greatly enjoy the taste. Cats are also attracted to the crinkly sound that plastic makes when chewed or licked. Some say that cats lick and chew plastic because some of their dietary needs are not being met, others say it is an obsessive compulsive behavior that resulted from having been weaned too early. None of these theories have been proven, they are just guesses as to why many cats crave licking and chewing plastic. Licking plastic alone will not harm a cat, what WILL harm a cat is if it ingests any of the plastic. This can cause a deadly gastrointestinal blockage.
Whatever the reasons, many cats have a passion for plastic. You need to be on the alert. Avert the sly cat burglar in your home, keep your plastic bags and shiny cellophane wrappers, your garbage bags and "Post-It" note wrapping where your sleuth cannot reach them. Don't be an accessory to the crime.