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Why Do Cats Like to Chew on Plastic So Much? 8 Likely Reasons

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Cats can have strange habits, one of which is their tendency to chew on plastic. While it may seem strange to pet owners, this behavior is quite common among cats, and they can do it in the wild and in captivity. Keep reading as we explore the reasons that they might engage in this behavior, such as out of hunger or due to anxiety, and discuss when it can become a problem.

The 8 Reasons Why Cats Like to Chew on Plastic So Much

1. Sensory Stimulation

Cats are curious creatures that love to explore their environment using all their senses. They often brush their face against something or chew on it a little to learn more about it, especially if they find it interesting or stimulating. Plastic texture and sound can appeal to cats, causing them to chew on it more frequently than other items.

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2. Teething

Kittens love to chew on things because they are teething, and biting onto a hard surface helps them feel better. Plastic is usually easy to find around the house, and it’s hard enough to be effective as a chewing toy but provides more give than materials like metal or wood.


3. Hunger

Some cats might mistake plastic for food if they are hungry, especially if their diet doesn’t satisfy their nutritional needs. The plastic might also confuse the cat if it is in small pieces or resembles other food that they eat. Some plastic, like shopping bags, are made with cornstarch or gelatin to make them more biodegradable, giving them a flavor that your cats might enjoy. That’s why it’s important to keep such items away from pets.

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4. Pica

Pica is a condition that causes the cat to eat non-food items like plastic, paper, dirt, and fabric and can result in life-threatening internal blockages that require immediate veterinary attention. Cats with this condition are typically deficient in nutrients like fiber, calcium, and iron, so feeding them a balanced diet can help reduce the risk. It can also occur in cats with gastrointestinal problems, so it can be a good idea to have your cat looked over by a vet if you notice them eating plastic. Finally, pica can be the result of high anxiety or boredom.


5. Anxiety and Stress

Cats that experience a great deal of stress might chew on plastic to self-soothe

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. Chewing helps calm and relax many cats and temporarily distracts them from what’s bothering them. Many pet owners notice that their cats start doing it after they move to a new home or get a new pet. Cats that spend too much time alone might also start chewing on plastic.


6. Behavioral Issues

Your cat might be chewing on plastic due to a behavioral issue, such as boredom, lack of attention, or even a desire to get revenge. They might chew on plastic to get your attention when they want something, and they might also engage in other destructive behavior if you don’t give in. Many cats will also chew on plastic because they feel lonely.


7. Attention Seeking

While technically a behavior issue, your cat might be looking for attention when they chew on plastic. Cats are fast learners, and if you reacted to them chewing plastic before, there is a good chance that they will do it again. Attention seeking is likely the case if you notice them engaging in this behavior at the same time each day.

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8. Dental Problems

While not as common, some cats might start to chew on plastic due to dental issues. Like with teething, chewing on plastic can help soothe the painful tooth or gum condition. If you notice that your cat is excessively chewing on plastic, have them looked over by a vet to rule out dental issues.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Chewing on Plastic?

If your cat is chewing on plastic, you can do a few things to discourage the behavior, like ensuring that they have plenty to eat and get a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs. The cat should also have plenty of toys and regularly interact with people and other pets. If you think that they are chewing on plastic due to anxiety or stress, try to identify and address the underlying problem. If they are teething, provide them with proper teething tools, or try giving them cat-safe fruits or vegetables like carrots or cucumbers. Finally, take the cat to a vet if you think that the chewing is due to an underlying dental issue, pica, or another health problem.

Image Credit: HeungSoon, Pixabay

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Provide plenty of toys to keep your cat entertained.
  • Use positive reinforcement and provide treats and praise when your cat plays with toys instead of chewing on plastic.
  • Create multiple safe places in your home to ensure that your cat is not suffering from anxiety. Items like cardboard boxes, empty rooms, and even pheromone diffusers can work well.
  • Keep your plastic items out of reach so your cat can’t chew them. For instance, keep your shopping bags in the cupboard, and cover your wires as best you can.

Conclusion

While the behavior of cats chewing on plastic may seem odd to their owners, it is quite common among felines, which likely do it for several reasons. For example, there is a good chance that they want your attention, especially if it’s near feeding time. However, if they tend to do it throughout the day, it could be a sign that they are feeling stressed or developing a health issue, such as dental problems or even pica. Try to give your cat high-quality cat food and plenty of attention and toys to keep them busy, but if that doesn’t work, take them to a veterinarian. The vet might also provide additional tips to help convince your cat to stop chewing plastic.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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