Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Passion For Plastic

I stood in the bathroom opening a package of "Post-It" notes, carefully looking over my shoulder to make sure "He" was nowhere in sight, opening it as quietly as I could...my eyes scanning the area, "all is safe" I thought to myself as I carefully placed the plastic "Post-It" wrapping in the bathroom garbage basket as quietly as I could. Normally when I leave the bathroom I close the door behind me in case "He" makes an appearance, today I didn't. I smugly smiled thinking I had pulled one over on him, "He" had missed the feast. I walked into the hallway, sat in the kitchen to do some work on the laptop. I heard a noise. A crinkling noise. "Noooo!" I thought, "this can't be!!" I jumped from the chair and ran into the master bedroom where I saw him making his escape. "He" ran through the hallway with the agility and speed of a pro football  punt returner, darting, weaving, slinking down nearly to the ground knowing I was onto him. I had caught him red-pawed. The chase was on. "He" ran as if his life depended on it, "Post-It" wrapping hanging from his mouth, saliva filled, like dead prey, lifeless in the clench of his teeth. He ran faster, head down, shoulders hunched, knowing this was his only chance. If I wasn't so afraid that the plastic would be swallowed I would have laughed myself sick at the appearance of  this silver gray pot-bellied furbaby running as if his life depended on it. I screamed "Drop it! Drop It", clapping my hands like a crazy woman. I shouted "Drop It" louder and with more urgency. Then I realized, this is not a dog, why am I yelling "Drop It" to HIM? This was a thief who was cunning like no other. This was the plastic pilferer, "He" was none other than my cat, Cody. The chase continued. Up and down the hall, he cut me off, darting in front of me hoping to trip me so he could be alone with his "catch". He headed back to the bedroom. "If he goes under that bed it is all over I thought" I ran faster, clapping louder, yelling his name. Aha!!!!!! The loudest clap worked! He dropped the plastic wrapping and ran like the little thief that he is. Another plastic catastrophe averted, for now.

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.


  1. What an interesting information! Thanks for sharing it.

    Eva always goes crazy whenever she sees me with the plastic bag, she will bark frantically and runs here and there. I always think it's because of the sound the bag made which irritates her a lot. So when I read your post, i just told myself that it's a good informative one!

  2. @Priscilla, I think with dogs it might actually be the sound. Dakota tries to steal plastic bags if they are left unattended but he never tries to eat them like Cody does. He will just run proudly with it in his mouth. I think you are right that it is the sound when it comes to dogs and plastic bags.
    Thanks for your kind words! I so appreciate when people read and leave comments, thank you!!!

  3. I have been involved in many such chases! I'm not sure why they like plastic so much. Milk jug rings are fun because they scoot, they roll, they dance! They are also a choking hazard.

    But plastic wrappers have some fascination for cats that I just don't get. Some types of plastic may cause some cats to have an allergic reaction and get a rash, which is why some vets will recommend against plastic food dishes and water bowls. If you're interested, see http://www.frederickcatvet.com/waterfountains.html.

    Thanks for that amusing story. I'm sure all cat owners cat relate!

  4. Hi Caren, about the Wordless Wednesday, everybody does it. It's me who follow their idea. People usually post their cute pictures on Wednesday and those beautiful pictures usually don't need any words for them. So, we post our pictures which we think they are cute or funny.

  5. Kurt thanks so much for reading and commenting! I have heard that cats love the plastic rings from milk as well, I tried it once with my first cat who had no interest in it whatsoever and I agree with you that they can be a choking hazard so I never tried it with my second cat at all.
    You are sooooo right about not using plastic bowls for cats. I NEVER do! I did with my first cat Bobo and he developed what the vet called "kitty acne" which they attributed to the plastic bowls I had been using at the time. Thanks so much for sharing that link, I may "borrow" it for a future blog!!
    Also thank you so much for your kind comments about my posting, it means a lot when people take the time to read and comment. Hope you will become a "regular!" Feel free to share any ideas, ask questions, welcome!

  6. Priscilla thanks for the info! Will keep that in mind when I have no topic in mind for a Wednesday.....good to know! I usually keep my "wordless" or fewer word topics for Mondays when I can't get it together like this past Monday! Sheltie and kitty kisses to you!

  7. I was out of breath fro just reading about the chase! That Cody, is a wily one. Our kitty girl Oogie LOVES bubble wrap, and styrofoam. Your blog does answer some of the questions I had as too why? When we give her all the best foods. Head bumps to the gang! ~^..^~

  8. I have 4 cats, 3 of which have no interest at all in plastic. The 4th is obsessed. He actually DID ingest a plastic wrapper once, and had to have surgery to remove it from his intestines. I do my best to keep all plastic bags and wrappers out of his reach, but every now and then, I catch him with some. Luckily, he has been able to pass all subsequent ingestions!

  9. @Kokoro lol! Now you can lay down and take a cat nap! Oh yessss Cody is a "wily" one, love that description! Love the name "Oogie" for your other cat. Thanks for commenting and we send you kitty kisses and head bumps!

  10. @BZTAT, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! I love your artwork!
    Oh noooo about your kitty eating a plastic wrapper. That had to be awful! I feel so bad for both of you. Obviously he didn't learn his lesson! He should get together with my Cody who is equally obsessed!

  11. I've had 3 cats that chewed plastic. Jason only chewed the plastic slip covers on the furniture when I was growing up. I think he was just showing good taste. I hated those things too.

    Ashura chewed most any plastic, especially the handles of plastic bags and stiffer kinds of plastic. It's still a rule to always securely dispose of the rings from milk containers because those she would chew to pieces and swallow. Dangerous!

    Testuo chewed plastic as well but only occasionally. Testsuo had a dental condition called plasma cell stomatitis. Essentially, his gums reacted to dental plaque as an infection and they became inflamed and overgrown. And his breath? Yikes! Tetsuo chewed plastic whenever he had a flare-up. I suppose it felt good somehow. The condition was initially treated with steroids since it showed up when he was just barely 1 year. Most cats, I was told, develop this as older adults and the treatment is to pull their teeth! Not an option!

    Each cat is different but I would check a cat's dental health when they first start chewing plastic. If their teeth are fine, just give up and revel in your cat's idiosyncracies but stay vigilant so they don't swallow any.


    PS: Loved the description of the chase!

  12. Anastasia thank you so much for your most informed comment! I love the names of your cats, 2 of them sound so exotic!
    Actually my Cody only licks/chews plastic bags, saran wrap, that kind of plastic. He doesn't go for the "hard stuff" lol.
    He does have a "rodent ulcer" that appears on his lip sometimes. He has had this on and off since he was a kitten. The vet says it is nothing to worry about. It can be brought on my stress (no surprise, I think he got it due to Dakota)....I do worry about it often because it doesn't look nice and now I am wondering if it is what you mentioned in your comment.
    Thanks again for reading and for commenting!

  13. I'm so glad somebody else has the same problem with plastic. My four cats are just crazy over plastic and believe me there's nothing possibly missing in their diet. I try to be on the alert, but with four cats, it's just impossible. They even eat the rim of plastic around the garbage can in the kitchen. What usually happens afterward is found somewhere on the kitchen floor or living room rug. You got it! Cat barf. And it's not pleasant to clean up. All my cats are rescuees so I don't know whether or not they were weaned too soon. All I know is I sure wish I could stop it. Any suggestions at all would be appreciated.

  14. Hi Anonymous! OMG your cats really love plastic don't they? My Cody mostly just sticks with plastic bags and saran wrap type of things.
    Maybe you should get a metal garbage can in the kitchen? Cody doesn't mess with ours at all. I get nervous because my husband is constantly leaving wrappers and plastic bags around and I have to run around moving them out of the way.
    Funny you mentioned being weaned to early. My Cody has a problem with "over kneading", yes he cannot lay in bed without doing that and he does it too much! My first cat never did it to that extent. I read that being weaned to early can cause that. As for the plastic I read the same thing as you about being weaned too early, I think I also read that there is really no way to stop it other than trying to catch the cat in the act and taking away the plastic.
    From what I read there is no way to stop it. Maybe other kitty Moms and Dads that are reading will know of a way to do that?
    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! I so appreciate it!

  15. haha! Luckily, Teego's not that bad, he just likes lying on plastic. However, he has started stealing bread bags (with the bread inside) now!

  16. Hi Freya! So glad you checked it out. I wonder why Freya likes LYING on plastic? lol. Too funny! I think it is hysterical that he steals bread bags WITH the bread inside! lol. He is gonna make sandwiches!

  17. Oh! Thanks a lot. This is very interesting and useful. This explain why my cat loves the plastic so much. Thanks a lot for sharing this great post.