Cats never lose their predatory instinct, even when they live in an apartment. Sometimes, though, they choose strange prey to toy with, and they end up eating plastic, like portions of plastic wrappers or plastic bags.
If your cat ate a piece of plastic, the first thing to do is call your veterinarian, who will guide you to the right solution depending on the severity of the situation. Don’t opt for DIY solutions because plastic can cause severe damages to your pet, even death.
What should you do if your cat eats plastic?
Do not panic. Of course, plastic is not a healthy food for your cat, but there are a few things that you can do to help your pet. Read below to learn what is the correct behavior to keep.
Examine the vomit
Monitor how your cat behaves. If your cat ate plastic and is throwing up, don’t block it, but try to help it instead. The vomit is an encouraging sign since it demonstrates that your cat is trying to react.
On the other hand, remember that throwing up is quite common for these animals because their stomach is very sensitive, so you’ll need to check how the vomit looks and the presence of pieces of plastic in it.
For example, cats can vomit because of hairballs in their stomach, which limit their digestive process, or because they ate too quickly.
If your cat manages to throw up the plastic on its own, check how many times your pet does it and how long do these episodes last. If the cat vomits three-four times, stops doing it in 12 hours, and asks for food afterward, it could be out of danger.
Feeding your pet could be a good idea but call your veterinarian before doing it to make sure it’s okay.
Monitor the situation
Unfortunately, things could go another way. If you notice your cat has gags but does not throw up, seems less lively than usual, refuses food, and does not poop you should bring it to the vet immediately.
Plastic is an occludent material that tends to accumulate in the smallest parts of the digestive system, and it may cause the death of your pet.
In most cases, plastic is found where the small intestine becomes the large intestine or in the lowest region of the stomach since these are the narrowest parts of the digestive system.
Once the veterinarian has checked the situation he will choose if the cat needs medical procedures or if it’s better to wait for the plastic pieces to come out. Even though this is an invasive kind of surgery, the cat will be able to come home just a few hours after the operation.
As it normally happens, the pet has to rest for some time, so prepare your home to make the cat comfortable.
Why do cats eat plastic?
There are many reasons why they do it, so we suggest you read all the possible options.
This is known as pica, and it’s the most severe reason for this behavior.
Your cat may keep eating plastic because it is missing nutritional elements, and tries to find them in alternative foods to cover its needs.
Plastic is not the only thing he may try to eat: animals with this disease eat everything they find, from shoes to hair bands, furniture, etc.
Cats usually develop this disease when they are kittens, but it can also occur later. Pica is a disease, so you’ll have to discuss with the veterinarian your pet’s diet and how to balance it correctly.
Pica could be confused by cat owners with behavioral problems bound to weaning, but they are totally different.
In the second case, in fact, cats tend to use suction to calm down and to recreate sensations they experienced during nursing.
Usually, they would use any large object they find, like plastic bags or plaids, and suck it.
This behavior is dangerous as well because the cat could accidentally ingest plastic or other materials, and he may tend to repeat it many times. If you notice that your cat has this behavioral problem, discuss it with the vet.
This happens with animals that are not subject to any stimulation, like apartment cats. The pet can’t meet and play with other cats and can’t go outside to fulfill its instincts, so it reacts in different ways.
First, the pet could destroy everything it finds, from the small object to the biggest, like furniture.
Second, bored cats tend to wash their fur a lot. You can check if this is the case very quickly because cats that clean too frequently lose their hair in some spots (under the ears, on the back, etc.).
Third, they eat more than they should and things they shouldn’t swallow, like plastic.
Cats like routine. For example, they want to find their food and water bowls in the same spot every day, they want to sleep always in the same places, they want to meet the same people when they are home, etc.
And the owners know it: even though cats have always been represented as independent animals, they are very sensitive.
Changes like moving into a new house, the arrival of a newborn, or of a new animal are a source of stress for the cat. Cuddles are fundamental too: the fact that the owner is no longer able to give the same amount of attention is painful for the pet. So the cat chews plastic to console itself.
Solutions for stress could vary: think about which changes could have stopped the cat’s routine to find the one that suits your cat’s needs.
Brushing teeth is not a practice that only humans do, in fact, cats usually clean their sharp teeth after each meal using grass or catnip. But when the plants are missing, they could use alternative methods to do it, like for example sharp pieces of plastic.
Helping the digestion process
In most cases, your cat has probably eaten plastic accidentally. For example, it could occur when your pet ate too much food and needs help to digest its meal. In cats, digestion enzymes are stimulated by chewing.
Since the cat already ate a huge amount of food, it’s unlikely it would ingest cat treats. Instead, cats that ate too much would find alternative ways, such as chewing plastic bags and wrappers.
Interesting sound or flavor
Cats love the sound that plastic bags make when they attack them. Some of them, in fact, remind our pets of bird calls, and this is why plastic bags are among the toys cats prefer. And a game is not a game without bites.
Other ones, instead, are irresistible because of their flavor. For example, eco-friendly shopping bags could be made of corn fiber, an ingredient that helps to dissolve this polluting object faster. And cats notice it immediately.
Another option is that the cat is attracted by the plastic bag because it still smells like the food that it contained. Last, some of the bags that you can find in supermarkets are made of pheromones: this ingredient is not attractive to us, but cats, which have bigger smell abilities than humans, go crazy for these things.
What should you do to prevent your cat from eating plastic?
As you noticed, a cat eating plastic is not a rare event, but there are some actions you can do to prevent it.
Save the plastic
If your cat ate a plastic bag, it’s time to get rid of these objects. The first thing to do is taking a look at your house and collecting all the plastic wrappers that you have left somewhere: on the kitchen table, on your desk, in the living room, etc.
To keep your cat safe, remember to put your shopping bags in a remote place once they are empty, maybe even folding them. Last, remember to throw away all the unused plastic bags that could smell like food.
Spend some time with your cat
If your cat swallowed plastic because he was bored or stressed, take some time off to cuddle and play with your pet. Think about what you were doing together before your life changed, and propose these activities to your cat.
Don’t waste your money on buying tons of scratch pullers: bored cats want to be entertained by you, so the best option is interactive toys. If you do not have much time to play with your pet, you can put in your apartment a few boxes of different sizes, your cat will love it.
Cats adore plants, and it’s highly recommended to buy a few items for your cat’s health. They use it for many purposes: clean their teeth, play, digest, and even sharpen their claws.
The ideal solution is to buy one or two plants of catnip for their teeth and digest process, and some more nontoxic plants to play and sharp the claws. Moreover, catnip is perfect for treating stress in cats.
Check the food
Food quality and quantity are of the main importance. If your cat ate a plastic wrapper because it is lacking something, you have to discuss it with your veterinarian. At the same time, don’t be too generous: some cats are not able to restrain themselves, so make sure you always offer your cat the right amount of food.