Why Does My Cat Eat Plastic?

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Cats are obligate carnivores, so they usually like to stick to eating meat. But sometimes cats start eating things that aren’t food at all. You may have noticed that your cat is starting to eat houseplants, things made of wool, paper, rubber bands, or even plastic. This urge to eat items that are not food is called Feline pica. While chewing and sucking on certain fabrics are common behaviors in cats, actually eating nonfood items is not.

Which Cats Are Likely To Develop Pica?

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Certain cat breeds are actually genetically predisposed to developing pica. Oriental cats, Siamese cats, and Birman cats all seem to be more likely to start sucking on wool, which can lead to chewing and eating. Additionally, cats that were weaned too early in life sometimes start to nurse on fuzzy items like wool or stuffed animals. Sucking or nursing might not lead to full-blown eating of materials like plastic, but it is a precursor. Though pica tends to develop in younger cats, it can appear in older cats, too.

What Are The Causes?

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Pica is still a bit of a mystery to most veterinarians, and it doesn’t exactly have one specific cause. There are, however, many possible reasons a cat might start to eat things that aren’t food.

When Is It A Problem?

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If a cat is doing some light sucking or nursing on fuzzy items like blankets or stuffed animals, it’s not usually a problem. This behavior is actually fairly common. It’s also somewhat common for cats to chew on plastic bags that can contain gelatin. A cat may also occasionally chew on grass without issues, so long as that grass hasn’t been treated with fertilizers or weed killers. The problem starts to arise when cats begin ingesting nonfood items or chewing dangerous objects.

When a cat starts to swallow wool, plastic, or any indigestible material, an intestinal blockage can occur. Blockages can cause a lot of problems and can even be deadly if they aren’t treated.

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Cats that eat grass may progress to eating outdoor plants, which can have weed killers or pesticides on them. If your cat starts chewing your houseplants, make sure you are aware of which plants are poisonous to cats. Daffodils, azaleas, geraniums, and tomato plants are all toxic to cats, as well as many others.

If your cat is chewing on plastic, be aware that electrical cords can present a risk, both for intestinal obstruction and electric shock. Rubber bands, food containers, and any other object that is easy to chew and tear apart may also present a choking hazard in addition to blockages in the digestive tract.

How Do You Stop It?

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Before you try anything to stop pica, take your cat to the veterinarian. You’ll need to work with your vet to rule out any medical causes that need to be addressed. Find out what your vet recommends to curb the chewing and eating. Here are some possible ways to reduce pica that you might want to discuss.

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Most of all, don’t give up. There is no quick solution to the problem. It’s a behavior that will take time to work with. Be patient, as it won’t be fixed over night. It may take weeks, months, or even years to get to a point where your cat is no longer chewing nonfood objects, but keep at it.

Has your cat ever eaten something unusual? How did you correct your cat’s behavior? Let us know in the comments below!