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Why do cats lick plastic?

Species: Cat
Breed: Himalayan
Age: 1-2 years
I have a 2 year old Himalayan Cat named Felix. He will be 3 in April. He drives me crazy because he licks plastic bags. I can hide them keep them put away chase him away by clapping hands and usually saying Felix! get away from there! but he literally goes HUNTING for plastic bags. He chews on them and eats them, he just won't stop and I'm absolutely petrified that he's going to get into a plastic bag when I'm at work one day and I'll come home to no more Felix. He will go into the kitchen and open the door under the sink JUST to chew and eat the plastic bag thats in the garbage. I don't understand it because its not like he's hungry because I ALWAYS make it my top priority to make sure he has fresh food and water. I've tried everything, and I don't know what else to do... I'm so scared I'm going to lose him because he's eaten plastic from a plastic bag. We can't even put up our Christmas tree this year or put our presents out because he will eat them. He won't stop. I love him to death and pieces and I don't want to lose him or see him sick. I can't stop him from hunting for plastic bags. I don't know what else to do. I'm at the end of my road. I'm just so scared... I love him so much. He's like my own child. and I want the best for him. please help...
thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Nobody knows for certain why cats lick plastic. It may be because some bags contain animal fats or fish oils. Or it could be that the cats smell the food that was previously in the bag. In some cases it could be a mental health issue.

There are a few things you can do. The obvious answer is to keep plastic bags away from him. Develop a system where no plastic bags go on the floor and all of them go directly into a cupboard.

You can also try doing some negative training. To do this you can set some booby traps where you place a few plastic bags around the house and spray them with something like Bitter Apple. This product tastes awful, but is safe for cats to ingest. If you do this a few times then Felix should get the idea that plastic does not taste good!

Another possibility is to talk to your vet about medication to help with this problem. Some vets believe that plastic licking is an obsessive compulsive disorder and will treat it with an anti-compulsive drug such as clomicalm or amitryptiline.

I hope that helps!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.