Why Does My Cat Like to Chew and Eat Plastic Bags?

Our veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, shares his theory on this curious behavior.

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Q: My cat BooBoo, a 5-and-a-half-year-old shorthaired male tabby, goes nuts for plastic bags that I do my best to keep away from him. Why does my cat like to chew and eat plastic bags?

A: I’m glad you keep the plastic bags away from your cat. Ingesting plastic bags can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction that can be life-threatening and require surgery.
It remains a mystery why some cats like to chew and eat plastic bags. I’ve heard that gelatin is used in the plastic bag manufacturing process, which is an animal product. Some cats can detect the gelatin, and they’ll try to eat it because they like the taste. This is just my theory, but until someone proves it to be false, I think it is a reasonable explanation.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Why Does My Cat Like to Chew and Eat Plastic Bags?

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Reader Comments

Pippin    Morgantown, WV

1/25/2014 8:23:28 AM

My cat will go into the cabinet and will take the coffee filter bag and take it under the table and chew on it. Any ideas why?

Julie    Missoula, MT

5/9/2012 4:13:38 PM

I have a cat who loves to "taste and smell" plastic - now this may be a reason why. Luckily she does not eat it!

Jenny    Portland, OR

2/26/2012 3:03:41 AM

These cats are missing enough essential fatty acids and they are trying to get the oil from the plastic. Try giving your cat flaxseed oil which will help with fur balls too. We finally found this out after years of trying to find out why our cats were chewing on plastic.

Pamela    Portsmouth, VA

4/15/2007 6:23:58 PM

My cat Alex also chews on plastic bags!! Weird! I use them for the little trash can in my bathrooms. I will switch to regular trash bags from now on.. Thanks

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