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Why Does My Cat Chew or Lick Plastic Bags?

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.

Medical Issues

The chewing of plastic bags may be connected to mouth pain or a dental problem. Chewing may be a form of pain relief.

There may be a dietary component to the desire to chew on particular objects.

A visit to the veterinarian is needed to rule out any dental issues, dietary problems or other underlying cause for the behavior.

Chewing on plastic is an odd and dangerous behavior so if your cat begins doing this, don’t assume it’s just behavioral. Talk to your veterinarian.

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How to Prevent Your Cat from Chewing or Licking Plastic Bags

Plastic bags can be irresistible to your cat due to how light they are and the crinkly sound they make. Never allow your cat to play with them at any time, even if he doesn’t show any interest in chewing or licking. It’s important to be diligent about keeping bags out of your cat’s reach. Make sure everyone in the household is aware of the importance of this so no bags are left out where your cat can get at them.

Switch to paper or cloth shopping bags to reduce the risk of your cat gaining access to plastic.

Provide daily interactive playtime opportunities for your cat to reduce boredom. Engage in twice-daily sessions that will enable your cat to discover, stalk, pounce and capture his “prey.” Use a toy designed like a fishing pole so you can simulate the movements of prey.

In addition to interactive playtime, your cat needs solo playtime opportunities, especially if he spends much time home alone. Use puzzle feeders for either wet or dry food so he can have foraging opportunities throughout the day. Strategically place puzzle feeders around your cat’s area so he’ll get to hunt several times. Puzzle feeders for cats can be purchased at your local pet supply store or ordered online. Homemade puzzle feeders are easy to create as well.

three books by author Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from Beth Stern

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Look at the environment itself and see if it needs some cat-friendly sprucing up. Your cat should have a cat tree or some climbing structure for play, rest and for watching the activity outdoors. Think of it as his kitty TV. In a multicat household, the addition of cat trees and vertical territory can help in maintaining harmony.

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