Why is my cat obsessed with carrier bags?

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Does your cat have a tendency to chew on carrier bags? Here's why your cat is obsessed with licking and chewing plastic bags....

Many cats are drawn to licking and chewing carrier bags, and this behaviour still largely baffles vets and cat owners alike.

Some theorists suggest that plastic bags are made with animal fat, which stops the bags sticking together, and it could be this that attracts cats. Others say that cats could be drawn to carrier bags because they have retained the smell of some of the rather tasty groceries that you’ve just purchased, such as a cooked chicken — a scent that would be difficult for most cats to resist! Or it could be that the cat likes the rustling sound, which may provide additional fun and stimulation.

However, it could be more of a serious issue if your cat is drawn to licking or chewing the plastic bags, and it could be indicative of a behavioural or medical condition. A cat who has very little environmental enrichment or stimulation could chew on plastic bags out of boredom. Cats who are left home alone for too long and lack adequate stimulation and play opportunities are more vulnerable to boredom-related behaviours. For some cats, chewing is a stress-relieving behaviour. For example, a cat who lives in a multi-cat household where there is friction and tension might have found that chewing on plastic is a coping mechanism.

Medical problems, such as dental and mouth pain, could lead to the cat chewing on plastic as a form of pain relief. There could also be dietary deficiencies that lead the cat to perform this strange behaviour. If this obsession occurs frequently, then it would be a good idea to get kitty checked out by a vet.

On a final note, licking and chewing plastic can be an especially dangerous practice if the cat ingests the plastic. Unfortunately, ingesting non-edible foreign objects can lead to serious health problems, such as intestinal blockages, which can be life-threatening and require major surgery. If your cat does do this, the best bit of advice I could give you is to remove any temptation, and do not leave any plastic bags within the cat’s reach. Better still, perhaps try a natural type of shopping bag, such as a cotton tote bag or a hessian jute bag. Not only will these discourage your cat’s inappropriate behaviour, but they are also much better for the environment.