Why Does my Cat Eat Plastic (Reasons & Prevention)

Have you noticed your pet chewing plastic bags, straws, cables, and similar, and you’re now wondering, “why does my cat eat plastic”?

The straightforward answer to that question would be the condition called “pica,” but you surely need more explanation, don’t you?

The simple definition of pica would be the tendency of cats to chew or eat non-food objects, in this case, plastic.

You’ll notice your pet trying to bite on different items around your home very frequently.

There are more reasons why your cat may be suffering from this condition.

In this article, I’ll do my best to explain each and every one of them.

It’s crucial you pay attention to your cat around plastic items and to know how to stop her/him from swallowing it.

If your pet ingests plastic, he/she will not only have inconveniences such as vomiting, but it can also be dangerous and deadly. 

Reasons why cats chew plastic

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It’s true that cats are very curious creatures that can’t resist chewing and trying to eat different things.

They just find everything interesting, especially if it’s something that they see for the first time.

That’s why, if you’re introducing a new item to them, they very often sniff around it and try to chew it.

However, pure curiosity isn’t always the answer.

Here are some of the most probable reasons why your little furball wants to eat plastic.

  • Stress and anxiety

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Do you or any of your friends have the ugly habit of biting your nails when stressed or nervous?

Well, chewing plastic and other non-food items in your home is a similar outlet for your cats, and it has the same effect.

When your cat is under stress or feels anxious, he/she may find relief in biting items in your home.

This is most likely the answer to “why does my cat eat plastic” especially if you notice stress-caused behavior. 

  • Lack of nutrients

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If your pet’s organism doesn’t receive enough essential nutrients, he/she may want to chew on other stuff to eat.

It’s an impulse your cat gets because its body really misses those important nutrients to thrive.

As soon as you notice that your cat doesn’t get enough nutrients, change its diet.

Make sure to pay attention to what you’re feeding it with.

The best thing to do is to prepare homemade cat food that is versatile and includes all food groups.

In the case of feeding your pet store-bought food, take the time to read the ingredient and nutrient list.

  • OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also be another reason why your cat wants to eat plastic.

This is another cause of stress, and it can even lead to your pet forgetting all about its normal activities.

  • Various diseases 

There are numerous health conditions that can be the cause of your cat biting plastic.

The most frequent ones are diabetes, dental issues, anemia, and hyperthyroidism.

In some cases, brain tumors can also be the reason why your cat is doing it.

Even though plastic chewing is caused by these diseases, if your cat ingests it, it can create even more problems.

That’s why you need to react on time and take your pet to the vet, who will examine it and determine the problem.

  • Predatory instinct

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This cause is completely irrational, and it’s really a pure reflex and instinct that your cat has.

Plastic items may seem like prey that needs to be caught for food, and that’s essentially why your pet wants to bite it.

I noticed that my cat often acts like that when he sees a plastic bag moving. Since the bag is very light, it moves easily, and my cat always attacks it and tries to eat it.

It’s actually very funny, but I am careful because I don’t want my cat to swallow it. 

  • He/she smelled some food

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There’s another reason why your cat may want to bite a plastic bag or, for example, plastic plates, forks, etc.

Most likely, your pet smelled the food that had been there. That’s why he/she wants to lick and bite that part of plastic, hoping to get a piece of that food, too.

Make sure to keep these items out of reach if you know it could attract your cat’s attention because of the food.

  • Why does my cat eat plastic 

As you can see, there’s more than one definite reason why your pet loves to bite and chew plastic.

Very often, the cause of this behavior is harmless, and the product of curiosity.

However, you still need to be careful and to monitor your cat’s behavior to try and figure out the real reason.

If you suspect that your pet has some health issues, you should take her/him to the vet as soon as possible.

Even though you know that biting plastic is only a game for your cat, you still need to be next to the cat.

Why?

Because you need to prevent the cat from swallowing the plastic. 

How to know if my cat has ingested plastic

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As with any other foreign, non-food item, your cat will show some odd signs.

These can help you realize that your pet ate something he/she shouldn’t have.

You’ll know whether or not your pet has swallowed a foreign object by the following signals:

You’ll surely notice all of these signals, and you’ll know when your cat feels pain.

Your loved animal will react differently when you pet it or try to pick it up.

Also, as soon as you touch its tummy, your cat will become defensive and try to escape.

If this happens and you also notice that your pet isn’t eating well, it’s time to visit the vet.

Of course, these signals don’t necessarily mean that your cat swallowed plastic or some other item.

They can also be indicators of many other diseases.

That’s why it’s crucial to take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice similar behavior.

The vet is the only one who can help in these situations, whether you’re wondering “why does my cat eat plastic” or not.

How to prevent my cat from eating plastic

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The obvious solution would be to hide plastic items from your cat.

Other than that, there are some things that you can do to avoid your cat eating plastic.

Let’s mention the most practical ones!

  • Find time to play with your cat – The boredom is one of the reasons why your pet may feel the need to bite foreign items, plastic included. It can also be a way of your cat wanting to attract your attention. That’s why you should find time to play with it on a daily basis. 
  • Use cat toysTry to find prey mimicking toys that will allow your cat to satisfy the predator instinct. This will keep them occupied and keep their mind off of plastic. It will also make your cat happy and relaxed afterward.
  • Provide scratching spots around the house – Cats love to mark their territory by scratching. It’s also their way of relieving stress. For that reason, you should buy some toys that your pet can scratch. By having this energy and stress outlet, your cat probably won’t try to chew plastic items.
  • Keep your pet occupied even when you’re away – Are you worried about your cat eating plastic while he/she is alone at home? You should provide some sort of entertainment to keep your cat occupied and away from foreign objects. You can hide small portions of food around your home. In this way, your pet will try to “hunt” the food. It will be a fantastic way of making sure he/she isn’t seeking plastic. Another way of keeping your pet occupied is to provide it with a puzzle toy. The reward for solving the puzzles will, of course, be food.

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  • Train your catIf nothing of the above works, you can try and hire a professional trainer. He/she will make sure to help your cat learn which items it shouldn’t be biting and swallowing. 
  • Visit the vetAs soon as you notice that the cause of chewing plastic is probably physical, take your pet to the vet. The professional will examine your cat and determine the problem that’s causing that behavior.

Why does my cat eat plastic and when to take her/him to the vet

Like said, there are multiple reasons why your cat may have pica and eat plastic objects, and you read about the majority of them.

It’s very important to keep an eye on your cat and see if he/she has the tendency of chewing plastic.

Since it can be dangerous, you need to monitor the cat and make sure it doesn’t swallow plastic.

In the same way, it can also be the way of your cat showing it doesn’t feel good.

That’s why you should take your pet to the vet the first time you notice your cat trying to eat plastic too often.

Only the professionals can help keep your cat healthy and happy.