Why Do Some Cats Lick Plastic Bags?


The Crinkle Factor

Some cats simply enjoy playing in and around plastic bags because, well, it's fun. The crinkly noise those bags make a sound similar to prey scuttling through grass and leaves - which could be part of the reason some cats find it so enticing. Cats are innate hunters who need mental stimulation. If you notice your cat is attracted to the sound of a crinkling bag, find them crinkly cat toys that imitate this sound to encourage them to play with the toy instead. Plastic bags are potential choking and suffocation hazards, even for cats. Crinkly cat toys are often filled with catnip, too, making it extra fun! 

Leftover Food Smells

Plastic bags are soft and porous and readily absorb the smells of their contents. It could be as simple as that yummy rotisserie chicken you picked up from the grocery store left its tantalizing smell on the bag, and your cat just has to have a taste. 

Flavorful Materials

Plastic shopping bags are often created using biodegradable materials containing corn starch. Some cats might find this starchy, corny smell, and taste delicious. The more likely cause? Plastics, and plastic bags, are often treated with stearates, which are derived from animal fat or tallow. Others use materials like fish oils or even fish scales to keep the plastic from sticking together. All these flavorful materials attract a cat's keen sense of smell,  especially as a carnivore. Animal fat and fish oil are right up their alley! 

They're Just Plain Bored

Cats are intelligent creatures that need mental and physical stimulation, just like us humans. So if your cat's playing around in plastic bags (or whatever might be lying around), it could be because your cat is simply looking for something new and exciting. If you're not home during the day, leave your cat toys that will that give indoor enrichment for your kitty in your absence. 

Provide your favorite feline with toys that they can bat around and play with at their own leisure. Catnip-filled toys are a great choice as the catnip also stimulates and encourages your cat to play - instead of nap all day. 

It's Compulsive

Some veterinary behaviorists believe that licking or sucking on plastic (or other strange materials) may be a mild version of a compulsive disorder called "wool sucking." This disorder is linked to pica, which is the compulsive eating of non-food items. It is thought some cats do this as an attempt to get nutrients that aren't present in their diet. If your cat seems to get into a licking frenzy when stressed or upset or they lick frequently, it might be time to see a vet. 

Is it Dangerous?

Licking plastic bags might not be the best idea for your kitty - you don't know if they were treated with any chemicals or substances that shouldn't be ingested. And when it comes to chewing and swallowing plastic bags, things can get dicey. Plastic isn't digestible and can lead to blockages in your cat's intestines, which can be dangerous. Like human toddlers, cats probably shouldn't be left unsupervised to play with a plastic bag. Provide your kitty with fun alternatives, like crinkly cat-safe toys, or just make the switch to a reusable grocery tote


Does your cat lick plastic bags? Do you have theories as to why they do? Let us know in the comments!


  • Karen

    Danger!! My vet and I believe plastic bags caused liver failure in my beloved Himalayan Sampson. He chewed bags for years! Never once chewed them up to eat them, just put a zillion holes in all plastic bags. Bags are made from petroleum. Petroleum is taxing on major internal organs. Never will I allow another animal chew on a grocery bag or ziplock again. I never thought for a second Sampson’s addiction would lead to his early death.

  • Katie

    My cat was obsessed with plastic. I couldn’t leave anything out. He never ate people food, or houseplants, nothing, but couldn’t stay away from the plastic. Any kind. Grocery sacs, product wrappers, packing bubbles, ziplock bags. I once caught him on the kitchen counter chewing the plastic wrapper that had been over a steak and the steak was sitting there inches away. No, just the plastic thanks. And even if you were yelling and pulling the plastic away he’s stare you in the eyes and keep chewing like he couldn’t control it. I’m pretty sure it was compulsive. A year after he died and I still panic seeing plastic left out for even a minute.

  • Cara

    I have a cat who does this. Over the years I have noticed she does it around the time she is supposed to get fed. We dont leave plastic bags lying around that have had food in them so it cant be that it smells or tastes good…my theory is that it’s probably something she does that annoys us so we feed her haha.

  • Jenn

    I just thought my cat was weird. Well, instill think that but these potential reasons do make sense.

  • Leslie G

    My cats chew on anything plastic they can find. I try to reuse plastic bags and all of the handles and sides have tiny little tooth puncture marks all over it. One of them also likes to chew tape or lick the glue from envelopes. They’re so weird!

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