I discovered years ago that plastic shopping bags are one item I should never forget to include. In my situation, it was simply due to the fact that the sound of my cats licking the crinkly paper was enough to drive me insane. However, for one of my friends, preventing her cats from eating plastic is a matter of life and death. One of her cherished pets really ate enough plastic to necessitate a late-night trip to the emergency clinic and surgery to remove the material from his stomach. Another strange hobby of mine had one of my cats licking the emulsion off of pictures.
Why do cats do this? What’s up with this obsession with stuff that’s not very tasty and even potentially fatal? There are several theories as to why cats might be driven to frenzies of foolishness over those crazy polymers, and here they are:
1. Enticing food smells
Soft plastics are porous and they trap the odor of whatever was contained within them. Cats’ sense of smell is even stronger than dogs’, and since we put everything from meat to fish to sandwiches in plastic, it makes sense that even the faintest whiff of a tempting treat could lead to licking and perhaps even swallowing plastic.
2. For fun
A shopping bag makes all kinds of cool noises, which in some way mimic the sounds of little rodents scurrying around in the grass and leaves.
3. Impact of corn starch
More and more plastic shopping bags are being made of biodegradable materials that contain corn starch. Some cats seem to find the smell and taste of corn starch attractive.Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation
4. Lickable lubricants
Plastics are treated with stearates, which are derived from tallow. I’ve seen some sources that say lanolin (the oil that makes sheep coats feel greasy) is also used in the production of plastic. Either of these things could be tempting to a curious carnivore. Gelatin is also used in photo emulsion, so that may explain the bizarre allure of those old Kodak moments.
5. It’s a texture thing
Some experts think that the smooth texture of plastic feels good on a cat’s tongue. There’s some thinking that the temperature of the plastic may be a factor, too, but in my experience, plastic pretty quickly picks up the ambient temperature of the room it’s in.
Some plastics contain chemicals that may mimic pheromones or other attractants, and it’s possible that licking plastic could be an extension of the flehmen reaction (a behavior in which an animal curls back his upper lips, inhales, and often holds this position for several seconds). This could also explain why some cats like to urinate on plastic bags.
7. Mental stuttering
Some cats get in the habit of eating non-food items. This condition, called pica, is sometimes considered a mental compulsion and sometimes thought of as an attempt to try and get necessary nutrients that aren’t present in the cat’s diet.
What do you think? Do you have any other ideas about why cats are obsessed with plastic? Do you have a plastic-crazed cat, and what plastics are his or her favorites? Sound off in the comments.Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation