One of my cats, Mr. Knightley, loves to eat plastic bags. I can tell he eats them and does not just play with them because the bags are missing handles. A friend of mine put it something like this, referring to my cat: “He will not rest until all the plastic bags in the world are rid of handles.” Or something like that. It was hilarious when he said it.
My other cat doesn’t eat plastic bags, it seems. Today, Mr Knightley was at it again. So I used Google to see if anyone else had cats that ate plastic bags. And there were a lot of people who have cats that actually eat plastic bags. After reading the various posts about the consequences, I am not going to leave plastic bags out anymore.
One person reported seeing blood when the cat defecated after eating plastic. I have seen pieces of plastic bags in my cat’s poop but I never thought it would get that bad. Others pointed out that the cat could get serious blockage, necessitating serious treatment. One person guessed that the cause of her cat’s cancer was from ingesting plastic bags. That is a limited dataset, but it makes sense when we think about what goes into plastic bags.
So I am now taking seriously what I thought was a quirk. If you read this and have a cat that does the same, I hope you do, too. You don’t have to take my word for it.
Update 2007-06-25: I’ve found that spraying Grannick’s Bitter Apple on the plastic bags I use to line my waste basket and shredder is very effective at preventing my cat from eating the plastic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale for me to spray every single plastic bag in my apartment, like the grocery bags I used to store for re-use. I had bought one of those plastic things to hold plastic bags (before I got my cats) and now I can’t use it anymore.
Update 2008-06-09: Here’s an article Mary Anne wrote and shared in the comments below: Cats and Plastic Bags.
Since I first wrote the post, I have made an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags that I bring into my home. I use reusable grocery bags, and when possible, decline bags at retail stores if I only have one or two items. This is better for my cat’s safety and for the environment. There’s a movement in SF to charge for plastic bags due to the environmental and economic costs so it’s good to get into the habit of reducing our dependence on them. Safeway gives a bag credit for using reusable bags and Ikea charges for plastic bags. Costco doesn’t even provide bags and it is doing quite well.