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Why Do Cats Like to Sit on Plastic Bags? 5 Interesting Reasons

Written by: Gregory Iacono

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

British Shorthair Cat sitting on a plastic bag

Why Do Cats Like to Sit on Plastic Bags? 5 Interesting Reasons

It happens almost every time you go to the grocery store: You arrive home with plastic bags in hand and are greeted happily by your feline friend. You unpack everything, and while putting your groceries away, you hear that unmistakable sound of plastic being squished and flattened.

Yes, your cat has settled down into the center of a plastic bag. But why? What is it about plastic bags that cats find so attractive that they can’t seem to stop themselves from curling up on one? If you’re perplexed, keep reading as we try to illuminate this bizarre behavior! However, the exact reasons why some cats may do it remain unknown, so we are left to speculate.

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The 5 Possible Reasons Cats Like to Sit on Plastic Bags

1. Some Cats May Like the Noise

Cats are peculiar creatures, to the point that many of their personality traits are yet not fully understood. The more answers we find, the more questions arise. While some cats won’t be the least fussed with the presence of a plastic bag, some will curl up on top of them in no time. One of the possible reasons we may suggest is that they simply like the noise it makes.

Cats love to play with highly tactile items and will happily spend hours batting around their favorite toy, especially if it makes funny noises. Plastic bags are the ultimate funny noise maker, and it’s crinkly and odd, like almost nothing else cats encounter. You also need to consider that cats have a keen sense of hearing. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that the odd sound of a plastic bag being smooshed, and the feeling it makes when it does may be appealing to the average cat.

Plastic bags could appear as interesting toys for some cats, although they are certainly not appropriate or safe for that purpose. Chewing plastic should be discouraged, as swallowing pieces may cause a gastrointestinal blockage that requires surgery.


2. Cats May Smell the Beef Tallow in the Bags

When plastic is made, one ingredient that may surprise you is beef tallow (a.k.a. rendered beef fat). What’s even more surprising is that even after being heavily manufactured during production, the smell of the beef tallow lingers enough that cats may be able to detect it with their incredible sense of smell. Some cats have even been known to lick and chew on bags, most likely for the same beefy reason. Don’t let them do that, however. Plastic is very unhealthy for cats and could lead to a gastrointestinal blockage if swallowed. Or it may be that you carried meat in the plastic bag and the cat picked up on that more obvious scent.

cat lying inside a plastic bag
Image Credit: Nadinelle, Shutterstock

3. Plastic Bags Are Highly Snug

If you’ve been around cats long enough, you know that they love squeezing into small cracks, crevices, or wherever else they can (even if they don’t fit). This could be one of the reasons cats like to sit on plastic bags. The plastic envelops them, and we can only speculate if it gives them a sense of security, privacy, or contentment. However, maybe none of this is true and cats just do it for fun.


4. Sitting on Plastic Bags May Get the Cat Some Attention

It’s no secret that cats like to be left alone occasionally, but they also like attention. If they aren’t getting alone time, a cat can hide or squeeze into their favorite spot high off the floor. If a cat’s not getting enough attention, sitting on plastic bags while they crinkle is a great way to get it. Not only do they get the joy of the sound and feel of the bags being squished, but they also get the attention of their human and have some fun.


5. Some Cats May Seek Insulation and Warmth

One of the things many cats enjoy is a nice, warm spot to curl up and relax or sleep. A plastic bag is attractive because of this innate need. The plastic envelops them and provides a certain level of warmth. However, never leave your cat unsupervised, so they don’t get stuck inside the bag.

Kitten At Play with plastic bag
Image Credit: Theodore Littleton, Shutterstock

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Plastic Bag Safety Tips for Cats

Although plastic bags don’t present a considerable health risk to your cat, they can be dangerous under the wrong circumstances. Here are some tips to help you keep your cat safe when they sit on or play in plastic bags.

Tips on Keeping Your Cat Safe While Playing With Plastic Bags:
  • Stay close by. If something happens, like your cat getting stuck in a bag or accidentally eating plastic, you’ll be there to help.
  • Don’t let your cat chew on plastic bags. If they do, take the bags away immediately.
  • Don’t let kittens sit inside plastic bags. They could get stuck in the back and suffocate.
  • Don’t keep plastic bags where cats can access them alone. Place them in a cabinet or another safe area.

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Final Thoughts

Some cats may like sitting in plastic bags for several reasons. Most of those are concerned with the fun, unique way plastic bags look, feel, and sound. Because they are so different from almost everything else in a cat’s world, plastic bags pique their curiosity like virtually no other object.

While the health risks from sitting and playing on plastic bags are low, you should still keep a close eye on your cat when they do and prevent them from eating, chewing, or even licking on plastic. However, do not be surprised if your next trip to the grocery store makes them very happy.

Sources

Featured Image Credit: Takerisks, Shutterstock

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