Why Do Cats Lick Plastic?

B&W Cat on Plastic Bag

Does your cat go absolutely crazy over plastic?

Well, you aren't alone. Millions of pet owners all around the world have also noticed the same behavior with their cats.

Many vets and other feline experts have put forth theories trying to explain this unusual behavior found in many cats.

There is no one specific reason that can explain it but it is globally believed that it could be because of the following reasons.

​1. Attractive food smells from plastic.

Plastic used to make most carrying bags is soft and porous. Therefore, the odor and smell of the food that was contained in them remains trapped in the plastic.

Cats possess a very strong sense of smell and are able to detect any trapped odor of whatever was contained in the plastic bags.

So when you make your trip down the store and put your meat and fish in a plastic bag, your cat may end up licking the plastic bags thinking he/she has found something delicious to feast on.

​2. Lubricants used to make plastic.

Different chemical elements found in plastics are believed to attract cats. Gelatin is one example. It is used in photographic emulsion is particularly loved by many cats.

Plastics are also treated with stearates which are saturated fatty acids that are found in animal and vegetable fat.

It is believed that the stearates give the plastics a smell that entices the cats leading them to lick or even chew on plastic.

So your cat’s love affair with plastic may be as a result of their perception that they are licking on something tasty.

​3. Biodegradable plastic.

Many manufacturing firms are now producing biodegradable plastics that are made from corn which are intended to protect our environment unlike petroleum based plastics.

This has however given cats something new to feed on thinking the plastic is corn which is loved by many of our feline friends.

​4. The texture of plastic.

Some people believe that the reason our cats love to lick on plastic is because of its texture.

The smooth texture feels good on a cat’s tongue and the lower temperature of the plastic makes them want to lick it.

It is closely similar to how infants love to suck on their thumbs.

Many kittens play with plastic toys and when they become older they continue on licking other forms of plastic for fun and relaxation.

​5. Sound produced when chewing on plastic.

Some experts believe that cats lick plastics because they love the sound that is produced.

We may find the noise irritating but for our feline companions, the sound resembles one of a rodent scurrying around on grass or leaves.

The sound intrigues the cats and activates their prey senses.

​6. Mental and medical issues.

​One major explanation to this behavior is that it is a result of medical issues.

Your cat could be dealing with stress, dental issues, gastrointestinal diseases, social issues or other medical conditions.

You probably deal with mental and psychological issues by distracting yourself with fun activities.

Licking plastic is thought to be a way for the cat to deal with its problems.

​Another medical reason is pica.

Pica is a mental compulsion similar to obsessive compulsive disorder that is found in humans and in cats. It involves chewing or eating non-food items.

Pica is also thought to be an attempt for the cat to get the necessary nutrients that are not provided by the cat’s regular diet.

Something similar to expectant women having a liking for odd things such as small rocks.

Other minor theories that have been put forward to explain this behavior include gum massaging, teeth cleaning and for help in digestion.

Plastic, when ingested is extremely harmful to cats and we should try as much as possible to prevent cats from licking or consuming it.

You may have to take your cat in for surgery if your little feline accidentally ingests plastic and it ends up blocking its digestive tract.

​Possible methods to ensure your cat does not get hurt out of ingesting plastic materials include:

  • ​Keep plastics away from their reach.
  • Provide enough play toys for your cat
  • ​Ensure your cat is well fed with enough nutrients
  • Provide safe alternatives for your cat to chew on

While our cats may love licking on all forms of plastic, it is our responsibility that they do not get harmed in any way by ingesting it.

If you think it could be a medical problem that makes your cat continuously lick or chew plastic, it is best to seek medical advice from your vet.

About the author 

Erick Dimalanta

I'm just a regular awesome guy that loves everything about Bengal Cats. I have two Bengal sisters that keep my wife and I busy all day. One of our Bengals named Xena eventually went blind at a young age. Which inspired me to create this blog. :-)


  • I have two Bengal cats. I got Max as a kitten and he is 8 months old. He has had issues with his litter box but I believe we are getting better. He seems to be hungry all the time and when he is not eating he likes to lick anything with a string attached to it such as cat toys (which is ok) and Window Blinds (Not ok). At the age of 5 months the Vet noticed a slight heart murmur and wanted a cardiologist to see him. I did not do this and had him neutered. Anyone know if the licking thing is an issue?

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