CAT BEHAVIOR forum: Why does kitty like to lick plastic?

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Mar 29, 2010 9:17 PM CST
Name: Val
I have a kitty that is normal in every way except she likes to lick plastic. She especially like plastic grocery bags, Paper towels and TP wrapping, and a few times I caught her licking glossy photos. Sometimes she will enjoy biting on these kinds of plastics but she's not trying to eat them. It's almost like she is using them like a toothbrush.

She's always been very healthy and active. She's never had any kind of illness. When I found her, she was probably about 5 weeks old and not completely weaned yet. I fed her IAMS kitten food. After a year, I started feeding her regular IAMS. Since I've never given her "people food" she doesn't care for it. All she wants is her IAMS. She is now about 13 years old but she has been licking on plastic ever since I can remember.

I have always worked in manufacturing and making plastic. Could she like the smell of plastic because that's what her mommy (me) smells like after work? I have very long hair and sometimes at night she will lick my hair like she is trying to clean it. She did that often for the first few years but not as much since she's gotten older.

She always has plenty of fresh water. Her other eating habits are good. She's never been overweight or sick. She seems happy.

Any ideas? Have you ever had a cat that likes to lick plastic?

Magic---kitty with a plastic addiction

Thumbnail by Val

Mar 29, 2010 11:11 PM CST
Name: Ivy T
Manhattan, New York
My Torrie licks plastic and bites it also. I always wondered if there was fumes or a odor that she liked. Thought that something was wrong with her too. Since she was a abused kitten, I thought it was due to some kind of trauma.

Thumbnail by ivyplantsnyc

Pause for Paws.
Mar 30, 2010 6:43 AM CST
I think there is a scent in certain kinds of plastic that attracts them. One of mine likes grocery bags, and will lick them happily, my big male siamese likes Ziplocks, but he bites them. If I leave something out in a Ziplock I can be sure I will find it well punctured. As long as they don't try to eat it, I let them have their little obsessions.
It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Mar 30, 2010 9:19 AM CST
Name: Val
Oh, it's so nice to know that there are other kitties that do the same thing. Kitty has bitten Ziplocks too--I forgot about that.

I know that the plastics aren't really good for her but I gave up trying to stop her addiction many years ago. She ignores me when she's fixating on it anyway. However, I DO always keep glossy photographs out of her reach. I've lost several photos.

You don't think it's because she's lacking some trace mineral in her diet? Yeah, I'm a worry-wart. It doesn't raise the chances of her getting cancer or anything, does it?
Mar 30, 2010 11:26 AM CST
l think they just like it. Like kneading a sweater, Or sitting in a box. Or sleeping in your planters.
It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Apr 1, 2010 7:36 AM CST
Name: Sally
East Central Kentucky
This may be like wool sucking behavior--something going back to an unfulfilled need in kittenhood. Cats have good memories.

We had never fed our cats anything requiring a can opener (pulltabs on the Science Diet) but our recently-deceased cat came running for nearly 20 years when he heard me crank the can opener. He was an adolescent when he chose to come live with us. We suspect he had been abandoned when someone moved from the neighborhood. They probably used a can opener.
Living sustainably comes with learning to see the world in a new way.

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