Why Cats Chew on Plastic

Portrait Of Cat With Green Polythene
Ovidio Ferreira / EyeEm / Getty Images

Pet owners run into questions regarding the behavior of their cats and kittens all the time. When it comes to chewing and eating, they may notice their cat chewing on objects made out of plastic, such as plastic bags, plastic electrical cords, or plastic shower curtains. In wanting to solve the conundrum, owners may be scratching their head wondering, "Why do cats chew on plastic in the first place?"

Chewing behavior isn't a common problem in cats. According to the H.I.S.S. test, there are several reasons why cats may be chewing on plastic. The H.I.S.S. test stands for health, instinct, stress, and symptom solvers. These are the types of components that veterinarians and behavior specialists look at, in order to determine the cat's physical and emotional health. There also may be traits of instinct at play, as every cat has a different personality, which may include unique conduct. Pet owners are encouraged to review the following reasons why their cat may be licking or gnawing on plastic materials.


Chewing or eating inedible objects is called pica. Some cats simply decide they want to chew or swallow nonfood objects. Although the reasons for this are generally unknown, it is possible that the habit begins with cats enjoying the texture of the object itself. Keeping an eye on this behavior is important, as chewing and eating plastic can be dangerous for cats; when the plastic is ingested, it may lead to blockages in the intestine.

However, wool sucking (chewing fabric) is most likely the reason for cats chewing on plastic. This is because it is the most common manifestation. In fact, Oriental type cats have the highest incidence of wool sucking. Cats that indulge in this behavior also can be anemic, so a health check is encouraged.


Kittens paw and mouth all kinds of objects. These youngsters are particularly enticed by movement or smell, such as biting electric cords. A plastic bag that rattles and moves in fun ways can turn into a great kitty toy for kittens. Objects that smell yummy, such as nipples from baby bottles, can also become targets, as they are often scented with formula. Although cats may adore clawing and playing with rubber bands and other similar materials, eating these objects can be dangerous or even deadly. Thus, pet owners should avoid letting their cat play with any hazardous objects and stick to official cat toys.


Stress can create odd behavior in cats and kittens and is nearly always a component of pica. The bored or upset cat could become compulsive about licking or chewing objects to help relieve stress, in the same way that people bite their nails, for instance. Cats can get stress from the environment, such as moving into a new house or not getting enough sunshine. There may also be physical or emotional issues such as illness, fleas, fear, or rivalry. Determining the cause of the anxiety is the first step toward relieving stress in cats.

Symptoms, Signs, and Solutions

Chewing and licking plastic bags is a common behavior of cats.

It could be that initially, the motion attracts them. Many plastic bags are made from petroleum-based products, and this oil-derived material tastes good to cats. When cats decide to graze on plastic, pet owners can pick up and dispose of the dangerous sacks before the kitties can get a taste.