What Are The Causes
Pica is still a bit of a mystery to most veterinarians, and it doesnt exactly have one specific cause.
There are, however, many possible reasons a cat might start to eat things that arent food, such as the following:
- Deficiencies in the diet can cause cats to start eating strange things. Cats might start to eat their own kitty litter if they are anemic. Inadequate amounts of fat or fiber in the diet may also lead to cats seeking nutrients from unusual sources. Some cats might nibble grass, and thats a fairly normal behavior, but cats who start eating too much plant matter or chewing on houseplants may also be trying to compensate for a lack of nutrients in their diet.
- Anxiety or boredom can also cause a cat to eat nonfood items. It can be an attention-seeking behavior, especially if your cat notices that you are reacting strongly to it. Chewing and eating may also be a comforting thing to do that reduces stress. If a cat is bored and not getting enough mental or physical stimulation, they may just chew on stuff because its something to do.
- Medical issues can result in a cat developing pica. Leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus are associated with eating nonfood items, as well as diabetes. Certain brain disorders like brain tumors may also cause this behavior, and pica can be the result of compulsive disorders.
Is It Bad For Cats To Lick Plastic
Licking plastic isnt bad in and of itself, but ingesting it can be dangerous for cats. If your cat is eating and plastic, it could cause intestinal blockages. Its important to make sure your cat doesnt swallow any plastic.
Licking plastic can also be a sign of pica, a texture-based eating disorder. Pica can sometimes be caused by a lack of certain vitamins or micronutrients, so if your cat licks plastic regularly, its worth checking to make sure they are meeting all of their nutritional needs.
Can My Cat Die From Eating Plastic
Its unlikely that your cat will die solely from consuming plastic but its certainly possible. Cats really should not be allowed to consume plastics as the effect on their systems can be very unpleasant. At best the cat is apt to regurgitate the material, which is unpleasant for both owner and pet.
At worst, the cat may be sickened by toxins in the plastic or may develop an intestinal blockage that requires surgery to rectify. None of these outcomes are especially desirable. In extreme cases, plastic could choke your cat .
Plastic can also build up in your cats digestive tract until a blockage is created such a blockage might ultimately prove fatal if not addressed. Small pieces of harder plastics can break off and do serious damage to your cats mouth and digestive tract, causing cuts and abrasions, becoming lodged in delicate tissues and causing infections. As previously mentioned, plastic may contain toxic substances that can build up in your pets system and make her sick.
Plastics may also have been in contact with substances that can make a cat ill, such as wrappings used on foods that are unhealthy for cats or containers used for medicines or supplements. For these reasons, its important to try and remedy your cats plastic habit and try to get her to stop licking or eating it. In the following sections of this article, well take a look at some solutions.
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Why Does My Cat Eat Plastic
Does your cat do everything she can to get ahold of your plastic grocery bags? Do you find tiny cat-tooth marks in your sandwich baggies? Do you have to lock up garbage bags, packaging, dry-cleaning bags, cups, straws, and all other plastic items in your home so your cat doesn’t chew on them?
If you have a cat that loves to lick, chew on, or eat plastic, you’re not alone. Cats that do this are in the minority, but it’s still common enough that people ask their veterinarians about it fairly often. So why would a cat eat plastic?
My Cat Is Eating Plastic
See files for Cats
Eating the correct food is vital for cats. Although we enjoy playing hunting games with our feline, hunting in the wild is not for fun. It is a necessity for survival. Mothers teach their young how to do it as soon as they can walk and they have an innate ability to stalk and pounce. Domestic cats don’t have the same problem with access to food as they have in the wild, but their hunting instinct remains. This is why we often see them nibbling, licking or jumping on just about anything in the home?
If you find they are not only chasing random objects, but your cat is eating plastic, you might be a little concerned. At AnimalWised, we explain why this concern is valid and what you need to do about it.
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Why Do Cats Lick Plastic
Plastic bags are magical, exciting objects to many cats. Some just love to play with the crinkly bags and bat them around. Others love to lick them. But why do cats lick plastic?
There are a few reasons why cats might lick plastic. One of them, according to National Geographic, is an eating disorder called pica. Pica is the compulsion to eat inedible objects, and in this case, its driven primarily by texture. A texture-based easing disorder may sound frightening, but its not dangerous as long as your cat doesnt swallow any plastic.
Pica can also drive cats to lick other inedible objects, such as fabric, and it can be caused by a mineral or vitamin deficiency. If you arent sure if your cat is getting all of the vitamins that they need, its worth consulting with your vet.
There are other theories as to why your cat loves to lick plastic, too. One of them points to potential food-based components and smells in plastic bags. Some plastic bags are made with corn starch, while others are made with tallow . Some bags are coated with fish oils to make them easy to open.
The magical lure of plastic bags may transcend the bags components, too. After all, plastic bags also carry the scent of whatever they once held. If they ever held meat, cat food, or anything else intriguing, a cat nose can easily pick that scent up.
Manage Your Cat Around Plastic Bags
The first step involves being diligent about removing your cat’s ability to get a hold of any plastic items and promptly disposing of plastic grocery bags. If you recycle them, put them in a place your cat can’t get to, such as inside a cupboard. This step is critical as chewing or playing with plastic bags puts them at risk of choking or suffocating. Be diligent about not leaving plastic bags on the floor or on tables or counters your cat can get to. Another environmentally friendly option is to buy reusable canvas grocery bags and do away with plastic bags altogether.
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Keeping Your Cat Stimulated
Cat Eating Plastic Due To Boredom
A bored cat develops behavioral problems. One way to express such problems is the habit of chewing and eating almost anything in their environment. This includes eating plastic. If a cat doe snot have the necessary stimuli to keep them engaged, they will not expend their energy in a healthy way. As their guardians, it our responsibility to provide the necessary environmental enrichment to avoid boredom. This includes providing toys, game and simply spending time with them.
Chewing plastic and other materials our of boredom is particularly common in cats living in apartments. Having no access to the outdoors limits what they can do. Similarly, those which do not have any other animals or people to interact with can develop boredom. You can look at the other signs your cat is bored to discover if this is why your feline is eating plastic.
Is Licking Plastic Bad For Cats
Licking plastic typically isnt bad for cats, but it can be harmful if this odd behavior includes chewing or eating the plastic . Your cats digestive system can usually pass a tiny piece of a plastic bag or even bits of a hair tie with ease, though you might find remnants of each in your cats poop or vomit within 24 hours.
However, larger pieces of plastic can become lodged in your cats gut, triggering an intestinal blockage that can ultimately restrict the blood flow to your cats organs and prove to be life-threatening. In other words, your cats plastic-eating hobby can land her in emergency surgery to remove a blockage from her intestines which also comes with a hefty $1,000+ bill!
But the dangers dont stop there.
If you dont witness your cat swallow the plastic, you may not even realize whats causing your cats sudden bout of diarrhea or unusual lethargy. As a result, you may delay a vet visit and chalk up these symptoms to the weather or a recent food change every hour you wait, the more likely your cat is suffering from irreversible tissue damage or shock.
Eating Plastic Due To Stress
Stress is capable of having a severe impact on the physical and emotional health of your cat. It could be one of the reasons why they are eating plastic. Various factors contribute to stress. However, it is important to remember cats are animals of routine. If a new member enters the family, you move house or you change almost anything in their environment, your cat will likely suffer stress and anxiety.
A cat may be eating the plastic as a form of stereotypy. These are repetitive behaviors without an obvious cause. When the repetitive behavior is eating plastic , the results can be very dangerous. If you think this is the case, you will need to look out for other signs your cat may be stressed and take them to a veterinarian.
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Breaking The Plastic Habit
Once youve removed the next step is to replace plastic with something healthier. If you think your cat might be chewing plastic to cope with dental health problems, have your vet check her out and rectify these adopt a programme of careful tooth-brushing and offer dental sticks as a replacement for plastic.
If your cat mostly chews plastic when youre out at work or otherwise occupied, she may simply be bored and looking for stimulation. Make time to play with her more frequently and ensure that she receives enough mental stimulation. In the case of smarter cats, you could try and teach her simple games or tricks. Many people clicker-train their cats to give them a high-five or a handshake. Playing games like fetch can be fun for many cats.
If your cat is rather orally fixated generally, you could try getting her a small puppy chew-toy with a similar texture to her favourite type of plastic. Cats sometimes enjoy chewing on plastic bones more than dogs do. A forage toy or treat toy can also be a good alternative to chewing plastic. These are balls or cylinders into which you can place small pieces of dry kibble the cat must then roll and push the toy around to make the kibble fall out.
The Three Most Common Reasons Why Your Cat Is Eating Plastic
Behaviors have three major influencers: your cat’s DNA, his health status, and his life experiences. Certain cat breeds, such as Burmese and Siamese, are more likely to engage in pica. If you have a kitty who is purebred or is a Burmese or Siamese cross, preventative measures should be taken to ensure that he doesn’t develop pica.
Next, let’s talk about your cat’s health. Cats are secret holders. They are thoughtful creatures who don’t always tell you exactly how they feel. Pain and discomfort are not easily assessed until the problem is severe, and cats who exhibit pica may be experiencing a host of gastrointestinal problems including inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal blockage, decreased nutrition, and intestinal parasites. In other words, your cat might be eating plastic because of a larger health issue.
Finally, your cat’s life experiences can shape his behavior. If your cat is frustrated, under enriched, or stressed, he may eat things he shouldn’t. If left untreated, pica can become a compulsive behavior that often will require lifetime treatment including medications.
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Eating Plastic Due To Digestive Problems
As with humans, cats will feel heavy after a lot of food. Since they don’t have antacids at hand, they may do something else to speed up the process of digestion. One of these methods is to chew plastic. However, in these cases, they will not ingest the material. Chewing plastic or anything else which is hard helps them to secrete enzymes which stimulate the digestive process. In this way the cat may rid themselves of the feeling of heaviness sooner than expected.
If this is the reason that justifies your cat eating plastic, you should review the amount of daily food you offer them and make sure you provide the correct amount.
Why Cats Like To Chew On Plasticand How To Stop Them
When your cat isnt chilling out in the bathroom sink or mounting an attack, you might find them leisurely snacking on plastic. Bags, straws, milk jugs, blinds, and other inedible chew objects are attractive to cats, who dont realize the potential harm of ingesting them.
So why do cats enjoy munching on plastic?
The most commonand benignreason is that cats find it somewhat tasty. Plastic shopping bags, for example, are often made with cornstarch or gelatin to make them more biodegradablewhich also gives them some flavor. If the bag was used for groceries, it may also harbor the scent of whatever was previously inside it.
But taste isnt the only attraction. Plastic bags offer other sensorial delights for a cat, like a satisfying crinkling noise and a smooth surface that might feel good under their paws.
Chewing on other plastic items that dont necessarily have a taste may point to something else. The cat may have pica, a compulsion to eat non-edible material. In humans, the condition is mostly psychological. In cats, pica could indicate dental problems, some kind of gastrointestinal disorder, or anxietymaybe a cat is adjusting to a new living situation, or another cat.
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How Do I Stop My Cat From Licking Plastic
Whether your cat is obsessed with licking plastic, fabric, or something elsethe first step to changing this behavior is to limit access. Put plastic bags away, tuck blankets in, and put away string, yarn, or twine. Instead, offer your cat toys that they can safely lick and chew. And, if that doesnt work, you can deter cats from licking things they shouldnt by spraying the objects with scents that cats dont like. PetMD suggests scents such as lemon, cayenne, or rosemary to deter cats from biting, licking, or eating things they shouldnt.
For whatever reason, plastic is exciting and fun for most cats. Its important to make sure they dont swallow any of it, though. Consider keeping things like plastic bags tucked away while your cat is unattended just to be safeand maybe invest in a new, crinkly cat toy for them to safely chew on.
Want to know even more about why cats lick things, and why they lick themselves? Try the articles below for even more information to your burning questions.
Keep Plastic Out Of The Reach Of Your Cat
Its a good habit to start putting away any plastic items that your cat might try to investigate. Plastic bags are particularly dangerous because they can become a choking or suffocation hazard if your cat does manage to swallow a piece or if they get their head stuck inside the bag.
Keep bags safely tucked away in drawers, invest in a trash can with a sturdy lid so your cat cant reach the liner, and remove any other items that you think that your cat might decide to chew on.
If your cat happens to be chewing on the outer covering of electrical cables, this is even more dangerous. Try to make sure your cat only has access to a room without any electrical items plugged in when youre not able to supervise them.
Giving your cat a diversion is always a good option, so offer them a variety of safe toys. You can even get chew sticks for your cat to gnaw on.
Always speak to your vet if you see your cat eating something plastic. If you see them doing it once, the chances are that theyve also tried it when youre not watching them. Its important to get to the bottom of why your cat is chewing on or eating plastic, so you can help your furry friend get better.
Featured Image Credit: Faqih03, Shutterstock
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