Why does my cat eat plastic?

Although our house cats have no problem getting their food. Whether it is dry or wet food , homemade or processed, our cats have what they need to stay healthy at their fingertips.

Despite the above, some cats develop the habit of chewing, licking and even eating certain materials such as plastic.

Do you find small cat tooth marks on your plastic bags? Do you have to save garbage bags, containers, cups, straws and all other plastic items so your cat doesn’t chew on them?

In this article I will give you the reasons  why your cat eats plastic .

Reasons why your cat eats plastics

Cats can eat, lick, or chew plastic for a number of reasons:

  • Nutritional deficiencies Some nutrient deficiencies in its diet can cause a cat to suffer a disorder called pica, in which the cat feels the need to feed on inedible things, and relentlessly seeks a certain type of item, such as plastic, to chew or eat .
  • The plastic bags can have the smell and even the taste of food, which makes chewing a pleasant experience. Many bags are also coated in substances like cornstarch, stearates (salts of stearate acid), or are made from animal by-products like gelatin, which makes them attractive to cats.
  • Other Medical Conditions Certain problems such as dental disease, diabetes ,  brain tumors, gastrointestinal problems,  hyperthyroidism,  and anemia can cause this compulsion to eat plastics in cats. 
  • Strained relationships with other pets or humans in the home, lack of enough time to play, medical problems are all reasons that can cause stress to cats . Stress and anxiety can lead to many unwanted behaviors in cats trying to find an outlet for their distress. The chewing of plastics is one of those possible behaviors, which in this case could be compared to nail biting in humans.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder  In rare cases, a cat’s stress problem can lead to an OCD problem. These cats can obsessively search for plastic, sometimes even giving up normal activities to do so.
  • His curious personality. A cat that licks, chews, or eats plastic may simply enjoy doing it. This is especially common in the case of kittens who generally explore and learn about all kinds of things in their environment.
  • Predatory instinct. The sound and feel of the plastic can remind your cat of catching and eating prey.

 

How can you prevent a cat from eating plastic?

If your cat chews on plastic, you must be careful. Ingesting plastic can lead to problems like vomiting and diarrhea, and it can also lead to a severe bowel obstruction that requires surgery. Swallowing plastic can cause suffocation, and plastic bags themselves can be a strangulation hazard if you become entangled in them. Hard plastic items can damage sensitive tissues in the mouth when chewed.

Here are some tips to prevent your cat from licking, chewing, or eating plastic :

  • Visit your vet. Getting your cat examined for a health problem is always the first step when it comes to unusual feline behavior.
  • Spend more time interactive play with your cat. Boredom can trigger unwanted feline behaviors, like chewing on plastic. Taking time to play with your cat can enrich his life and decrease his tendency to engage in unwanted behaviors.
  • Use prey toys. Make sure you have and use plenty of cat toys that mimic the behavior of prey, which can move like birds, rodents, etc. All of this can allow your cat to exercise its predatory instincts and help it become healthier.
  • Provide enrichment while you are away from home. Boredom or stress can affect your cat when you leave him alone. For example, separate his daily food into several small bowls and hide them around the house for him to “hunt” and find. You could also leave a jigsaw puzzle toy that releases treats for him to “work” while he is alone. Window cat perches can also be a great idea, it can watch what’s going on outside while you are away.
  • Have scratching posts around the house. Cats release stress, mark territory, and exercise by scratching. Having  scratching posts can decrease unwanted behaviorsin cats.
  • Behavior modification. If you are near your cat when she begins to chew on something plastic, redirect her attention by calling her or throwing a toy in the opposite direction of the selected plastic object. Praise him when he drops the plastic to find the most acceptable behavior. You will need to repeat this exercise frequently, showing your cat that she is getting more positive reinforcement by ignoring the plastic bags than by chewing on them.
  • Keep the plastic in storage. Due to the potential health risks to cats associated with chewing and consuming plastic, you should be aware of the importance of keeping all plastic out of reach.

If your vet finds that your cat is experiencing an obsessive compulsive problem , he may prescribe short-term medications to improve the effectiveness of the behavior modification you will be doing at home.

 

 

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