Cats’ predilection for chewing or licking strange things like plastic is a common problem for pet owners. It’s always shocking to see your cat chew on plastic because you worry about them, their health and safety. You might wonder why a cat chews/licks plastic items if it does not satisfy its hunger.
The behavioral urge of eating or chewing non-edible items like plastic, paper, plastic sandals, fabrics, electrical wires coverings, and cardboard in cats is called Pica. Chewing on plastic can be devastating, which results in surgery and sometimes death.
Let’s discuss some reasons behind why cats chew on plastic, the harmful impact it can have on cats, and ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Reasons Cats Chew on Plastic
Cats’ desire to chew on plastic can come from a number of different desires. Understanding what makes you cat chomp away at different types of plastic will help you prevent them from doing it in the first place, or at least keep them safe while doing it.
#1 It Feels Good
First of all, cats are natural chewers. They need to chew on something to remove the tarter from their teeth. It is important for cats to chew on a variety of materials, so it is not bad for them to chew on plastic if that is what they want.
Cats also like to chew on plastic because it gives off a scent that reminds them of their mother’s milk. In some cases, the scent might even remind the cat of prey items. Plastic also has a texture that cats enjoy. When a
#2 It’s Natural
Another reason cats chew on plastic is that it may be a substitute for prey. Cats are carnivorous animals and need to eat meat. If they can’t get it from hunting or scavenging, they might chew on plastic instead.
Kittens’ teeth grow more quickly than adult cats, which may prompt chewing on objects as a way to file their teeth down.
#3 It Smells Like Food
Cats chew on plastic because it smells like food – their sense of smell is about 14 times more sensitive than ours. Cats also chew on plastic because it has a texture that appeals to them; in the wild, cats would often chew on bone or other hard objects.
#4 It Tastes Good
Cats chew on plastic because they love the taste of the chemicals that are used in the production of it. This is a result of their tongues being covered with a sensory organ called taste buds, which help them detect different flavors. If a cat chews on plastic for long enough, it can cause stomach blockages, which may eventually lead to death.
A common misconception about cats and plastic is that they are trying to get revenge on humans for making them live in our houses. Cats don’t chew on plastic because they want to get back at you (they’re just really drawn to the flavor).
#5 It’s In Their Nature
Tearing up plastic bags, pampering mood, sharp teeth, and fighting with household plastic items can date back to their wild and untamed instinct. Despite their behavioral transformation from savage to civilized pets for thousands of years, cats still show wild behavior.
#6 It’s a Source of Entertainment
Cats have a curious, intelligent, and cunning nature. So they can’t just rely on living at home all day, playing with balls, and hanging out with you. Even if you try to keep your cat entertained, they will try to engage themselves in some activities for killing time and enjoyment.
They try to discover and experience different sounds, tastes, textures, and smells by chewing plastic and other inanimate objects. Plastic has a texture that they enjoy.
#7 Stress, Anxiety, or Phobia
Stress, anxiety, and phobia is another indication that your cat might be addicted to licking or chewing plastic to cope with situations that are bothering her. Cats are empathetic creatures; they may have people phobia or noise phobia. To dissipate the effect of these situations, a cat might start licking or chewing plastic.
#8 Medical Issues and Insufficient Dietary Needs
Chewing plastic is usually harmless and there’s no medical reason for it. However, in some very rare cases it could indicate that your cat suffers from physical and mental issues like gastrointestinal issues (inflammatory bowel, intestinal parasite, and intestinal blockage).
Sometimes cats suffering from periodontal disease are urged to chew plastic to ward off pain in their teeth and gums. Insufficient dietary needs and lack of some nutrients can lead to the temptation of licking flip-flops and plastic bags.
Disadvantages Of Chewing On Plastic
Cats are natural predators, and they like to chew on things. However, this habit can also cause a lot of unintended consequences for your cat. Here are some of the disadvantages of letting your cat chow down on plastic:
- Plastic ingestion can lodge into the intestine or stomach, which requires sudden surgery (termed as laparotomy) to ward off this issue.
- Chewing plastic may lead to devastating suffocation because of choking of plastic bags or plastic materials.
- Chewing plastic can lead to appetite loss and other problems associated with different chemicals in diversified plastic items.
- Your cat may have to experience electric shock while chewing wires’ plastic covering. An intense electrical shock can result in the death of your cat.
- Chewing hard plastic can cause injury in the gums and soft mouthparts of cats.
Preventative Measures Against Chewing On Plastic
It’s best to take preventative measures to keep your cat from chewing on plastic, because it’s tough to treat problems caused by plastic consumption. If this is a habit your cat has and you’re worried about it, you should read on to find a few ways to prevent your cat from continuing to chew plastic.
1. Dietary Modifications
A mild temptation of licking and ingesting plastic can be treated by enriching your cat’s diet with dietary fiber and providing the kitty with tasty food that they get a lot of enjoyment from. If your cat’s diet is already sufficient, he won’t go trying to find an alternative or replacement for what he’s missing.
2. Remove Access to the Plastic Items
It’s impossible to keep all plastic items away from cats when we live in the age of the plastic. But if you put a little effort into removing any plastic items that your cat is especially drawn to, you can avoid a lot of trouble in the long run.
The time to remove plastic items from your house is when your cat is just a kitten and learning new habits. If you see your cat gravitating to your plastic flip flops, for instance, you can keep them in a shoe bin so they are out of reach of your cat.
3. Keep Cords and Cables Bound
Loose cords and cables are very inviting to a little kitty looking to nosh of a little plastic. It’s hard to avoid when they’re just dangling there, ripe for the picking.
Instead of leaving your TV cables or computer cables dangling on the floor, bind them up, wrap them in a cable protector, or tape them up together so they are out of playing reach.
4. Enrich Your Cat’s Environment
Enrich the cat’s environment with diversified and enriching activities that will keep him busy and engaged. One of the best ways to do this is by providing a cat condo or tower that has many layers, areas to sit, and toys dangling. They’ll spend a lot of their time there and become less interested in the plastic.
5. Offer Toys
Offer alternative toys to the cat that are enticing and have features similar to plastic items but are harmless. Cats love to chew on plush toys, safe plastic toys that squeak, or even just balled up socks. Toys with feathers attached on the end are also quite entertaining.
5. Pungent spray
If you’ve done everything you can and your cat still will not stop chewing on the plastic items you cannot remove from their environment, then putting a spray irritant or pungent spray on the plastic items can keep your cat from enjoying it. After experiencing the pungent smell, your cat might not dare to touch that item again.
This should be a last resort and you should only use a spray that is non irritant and non toxic.
Now that you’ve learned why cats chew on plastic and a few ways to prevent them from doing it, you are well equipped to handle the problem and see that your cat stays healthy and safe around plastic in your house.
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