Why Cats Like to Chew on Plastic—and How to Stop Them

Cats find plastic very appealing.
Cats find plastic very appealing. / nensuria/iStock via Getty Images

When your cat isn’t chilling out in the bathroom sink or mounting an attack, you might find them leisurely snacking on plastic. Bags, straws, milk jugs, blinds, and other inedible chew objects are attractive to cats, who don’t realize the potential harm of ingesting them.

So why do cats enjoy munching on plastic?

The most common—and benign—reason is that cats find it somewhat tasty. Plastic shopping bags, for example, are often made with cornstarch or gelatin to make them more biodegradable—which also gives them some flavor. If the bag was used for groceries, it may also harbor the scent of whatever was previously inside it.

But taste isn’t the only attraction. Plastic bags offer other sensorial delights for a cat, like a satisfying crinkling noise and a smooth surface that might feel good under their paws.

Chewing on other plastic items that don’t necessarily have a taste may point to something else. The cat may have pica, a compulsion to eat non-edible material. In humans, the condition is mostly psychological. In cats, pica could indicate dental problems, some kind of gastrointestinal disorder, or anxiety—maybe a cat is adjusting to a new living situation, or another cat.

Regardless of whether the plastic chewing is prompted by some kind of health issue, it’s almost sure to cause one. Ingesting plastic can lead to stomach issues or blockages that require a veterinarian’s care. It’s best to dissuade your cat from chewing on plastic by offering them other activities, like toys, cat perches, or play. That, coupled with keeping non-edible items out of reach, can help your cat break its plastic habit.