Why Cats Lick Plastic Bags And Is There Any Harm In It?

1. Understanding the Behavior of Cats Licking Plastic Bags

Cats are known for their curious and sometimes peculiar behaviors, and one such behavior is licking or chewing on plastic bags. While it may seem strange to us, there are a few reasons why cats engage in this behavior:

  • Sensory Stimulation: Plastic bags can produce interesting textures, sounds, and smells that attract a cat’s attention. The crinkling sound and the smooth or rough texture of the plastic can provide sensory stimulation for cats, much like the rustling of leaves or the movement of prey.
  • Exploration and Play: Cats are natural explorers, and they often investigate objects in their environment by using their mouths. Licking or chewing on plastic bags may be a form of play or exploration for cats, especially if they find the movement and texture intriguing.
  • Attention-seeking Behavior: Some cats may lick or chew on plastic bags as a way to seek attention from their owners. If they notice that this behavior elicits a response or interaction, they may continue doing it to get attention or engage in playtime.

2. Potential Risks and Dangers

While cats licking plastic bags may seem harmless, there are potential risks and dangers associated with this behavior. It’s important for cat owners to be aware of these risks to ensure the safety and well-being of their feline companions:

  • Ingestion of Plastic: Cats that lick or chew on plastic bags can accidentally ingest small pieces of plastic. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as blockages or obstructions, which may require veterinary intervention and can be potentially life-threatening.
  • Toxicity: Some plastic bags may contain harmful substances or chemicals. If a cat ingests plastic from a bag that has been treated with chemicals or has come into contact with toxic substances, it can result in poisoning and serious health complications.
  • Suffocation: Plastic bags pose a suffocation risk if a cat’s head becomes trapped inside the bag. The noise and movement of the bag can startle the cat, causing them to panic and potentially become entangled, leading to suffocation or injury.
  • Choking Hazards: Cats that chew on plastic bags are at risk of swallowing small pieces that can become choking hazards. These pieces can lodge in the throat or airway, obstructing breathing and requiring immediate medical attention.

Considering these potential risks, it is important for cat owners to take measures to prevent their cats from engaging in this behavior.

3. Preventing Cats from Licking Plastic Bags

To keep your cat safe and discourage them from licking or chewing on plastic bags, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Secure Storage: Store your plastic bags in a secure location that is out of your cat’s reach. Use cabinets with childproof locks or keep them in sealed containers to prevent access.
  • Alternative Toys and Distractions: Provide your cat with a variety of safe and engaging toys to redirect their attention and satisfy their need for stimulation. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and scratching posts can help keep their focus away from plastic bags.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Create an enriched environment for your cat with plenty of vertical spaces, hiding spots, and interactive play areas. This can help prevent boredom and reduce the likelihood of exploring and engaging with potentially harmful objects like plastic bags.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your cat with treats, praise, or playtime when they engage in desired behaviors and avoid plastic bags. Positive reinforcement can help reinforce and encourage alternative behaviors.
  • Provide Safe Alternatives: Offer safe and approved chewing toys for your cat to redirect their chewing instincts. Toys made of durable materials, such as rubber or dental chews, can provide a satisfying chewing experience.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with cats licking or chewing on plastic bags and create a safer environment for your feline friend.

4. Signs of Compulsive Behavior

In some cases, cats may exhibit compulsive licking or chewing behaviors that go beyond occasional exploration of plastic bags. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive and may occur excessivelyor in a stereotypical manner. If you notice any of the following signs, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for further evaluation and guidance:

  • Excessive licking: If your cat is obsessively licking or chewing on plastic bags for extended periods of time, to the point where it interferes with their normal daily activities and routines.
  • Hair loss or skin irritation: Compulsive licking can lead to hair loss or skin irritation in the areas where the licking occurs. This can result in bald patches, redness, or sores.
  • Anxiety or stress: Compulsive behaviors can be a manifestation of underlying anxiety or stress in cats. If your cat exhibits signs of anxiety, such as excessive grooming, hiding, or vocalizing, it is important to address the underlying cause.
  • Changes in appetite or weight: Compulsive behaviors can sometimes be associated with changes in appetite or weight loss in cats. If you notice any significant changes in your cat’s eating patterns or weight, it is important to seek veterinary advice.

Compulsive behaviors can have various underlying causes, including medical conditions, environmental stressors, or behavioral issues. A professional evaluation can help determine the underlying cause and develop a tailored treatment plan to address the behavior.


Cats licking or chewing on plastic bags can be a curious and potentially harmful behavior. While it may provide sensory stimulation or serve as a form of play for cats, there are associated risks such as ingestion of plastic, toxicity, suffocation, and choking hazards. It is crucial for cat owners to take preventive measures to keep their feline companions safe and discourage this behavior. By providing alternative toys, secure storage, environmental enrichment, positive reinforcement, and safe chewing alternatives, you can minimize the risks and create a safer environment for your cat. If you observe signs of compulsive behavior, it is important to seek professional guidance to address the underlying causes and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Keeping your cat’s well-being in mind, it is essential to take proactive steps to ensure their safety and happiness.


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