The reasoning isn’t 100% clear but there are many different theories behind it.
Texture – Cats can be very interested in different types of textile. The surface of a plastic bag is generally smooth and makes a crinkly sound. This may be interesting to a cat as they often like to play with crinkle-type toys.
Taste – Plastic bags usually contain food products at some point in their journey. Cats are obligate carnivores so when they smell meat products inside of the bag; this could entice them to lick or chew at it. There are also chemicals that are used in plastic bags such as corn starch and animal fats (stearic acid). The latter would be interesting to an obligate carnivore!
Stimulation – When cats go under-stimulated they will create their fun. They may find a plastic bag and decide that this is now a toy. When they are anxious or stressed they might resort to chewing as a way of releasing that stress.
Mouth Pain – This is where veterinary intervention becomes important. Cats are excellent at hiding pain, especially mouth pain. Contact your vet to ensure that there is nothing medical before pursuing any further changes.
So.. what can you do to stop this behaviour?
- Do not leave bags around the home – it seems very simple, but it’s so easy to forget when you are busy with other things. Be diligent in putting them away, and never encourage them to play with plastic bags or anything similar.
- Ensure there are lots of toys provided around the home. If they can often play on their own with items that are provided to them, they will seek out less alternative items to chew on or play with.
- Have playtime with them daily. Cats need plenty of stimulation. Similar to children, if you don’t let them play and wear themselves out, they will be high energy longer and get into more things/be more destructive.
- Allow them a space that they can view the outside world. This allows them to pseudo hunt in the home (i.e. chatter at birds). Cat scratchers by windows provide both height and something to chew, scratch and lick.
Written by: Blair Lutes