Why Do Cats Like Plastic Bags?

Why Do Cats Like Plastic Bags?

Cats are inquisitive creatures. It is part of their innate nature to explore and discover things in their environment.  Indoor cats do not have as much freedom as outdoor ones, but they compensate for it by exploring objects and items like plastic bags. They may lick it, sit on it, or even chew on and eat it. 

Why do cats like plastic bags?

There are several reasons why cats like plastic bags:

 1. They are attracted to its crinkly sound. 

Cats have a superior sense of hearing, and they can detect ultrasonic sounds that humans cannot hear. They are likely to find the crinkly sound of plastic bags very appealing. They may instinctively like its unique noise as it reminds them of the sounds of prey scurrying among the leaves and bushes. 

2. They detect beef tallow in it. 

Another reason why cats like plastic bags could be the presence of beef tallow on the bags.  Cat experts note that cats may detect the faint fatty smell- that is why they are attracted to it.  Beef tallow is often used in the production of plastic bags; since cats have a superior sense of smell that is 14 times more potent than that of humans, they can easily pinpoint the fatty smell. 

Aside from beef tallow, other plastic bags may contain lanolin, the oil that makes sheep coats greasy. Cats may detect this smell and be attracted to plastic bags because of it. 

3. It could be due to the pheromones.

Plastic bags may contain chemicals that mimic pheromones as well as other attractants. Pheromones are chemical signals that animals use to communicate. They have many functions for cats, from attracting mates to marking territories and calming newborn kittens.

4. They may have detected enticing food smells on it. 

Plastic bags are soft and porous. They may trap the odors of items like sandwiches and frozen meat that were placed in the bags. Nothing escapes a cat’s superior sense of smell, and the faintest smell of food may be the reason why they sit on, lick, and chew on the bags. 

5. It could be due to pica. 

Some cats tend to eat non-food items like plastic bags because they are suffering from pica. Its cause is unknown, but cat experts note that it could be due to factors such as genetics, boredom, dietary deficiencies, stress, compulsive disorder, and being weaned too young. Its onset can start as early as three months of age, although some cats can outgrow the habit by the time they are two years old. 

Some cats are also fond of sitting on top of or inside plastic bags because it makes them feel safe. Just as they like cardboard boxes, cats like to curl up inside plastic bags since it is instinctive to them. In the wild, their ancestors looked for predators by hiding in small spaces.  Aside from being instinctive, snuggling inside plastic bags also makes cats warm, especially during cold weather. 

What to do if your cat likes plastic bags

  • Recycle your plastic bags and put them in an area where your cat cannot reach them.
  • Switch to other types of bags, like reusable ones. This is also a good way to help save the environment. 
  • Provide toys for your cat and set aside some time for play sessions with your cat to alleviate stress and release her pent-up energy.
  • Spray plastic bags with a natural pet deterrent to keep your cat away from the bags. 

Is it safe for cats to play with plastic bags?

No, playing with plastic bags can be dangerous for cats. If they lick and chew the plastic, it could clog or congest their digestive systems. If this occurs, major surgery may be required so your cat will survive. Cats may also suffocate inside a plastic bag or get entangled in its handles. 


Cats are curious creatures and they love exploring things around them. They particularly like plastic bags and would play with them for hours. Aside from playing with the bags, they also like to sit inside or on top of them. Other cats may even chew and lick plastic bags. 

They are attracted to the bag because of its crinkly sound and its enticing smell that have hints of beef tallow or lanolin oil. Some cats may also be attracted to plastic bags because they are suffering from pica, a behavioral urge to eat non-food items.

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