Click here to learn more.
Domesticated cats have given up most of their wild ways for a cushy life with humans.
One look at their teeth, however, quickly reminds us that felines haven't lost their ability to bite and chew, just like their untamed cousins.
What they do with those teeth can be hazardous to all sorts of household objects — and even to cats themselves if the nosh item of choice happens to be plastic.
The chewing or eating of any nonfood items — dirt, electrical cords, carpeting and plastic — is known as pica. “I occasionally see a cat who likes to chew plastic. Most of them are normal household items, such as milk jug rings, the plastic ends of mini blind cords and straws,” explains Dr. Amy Pike, DVM, of Veterinary Behavior Consultations in St. Louis, Mo.
There are various medical reasons for why a cat would develop pica, including dental disease or gastrointestinal disorders, so Dr. Pike advises cat owners to take their pet to a veterinarian to see if the pica symptoms are related to an underlying medical problem.
"Cats may also chew plastic due to anxiety," says Dr. Pike, noting that it could either be generalized anxiety or a reaction to a lack of environmental enrichment. Other major causes of anxiety that could induce a kitty to chew plastic: Social conflict with other felines in the household or situational stresses, such as storm phobias or separation anxiety.
“If the cat is anxious, there is a benefit to the cat — it is a coping mechanism that may help to diminish anxiety, much like hair twirling or biting your nails,” says Dr. Pike. “If the cause is not anxiety, chewing on plastic may just be something that the cat enjoys doing. However, the dangers include trauma to the gums or other soft tissues in the mouth, as well as obstruction in the GI tract.”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Grumpy Cat, Colonel Meow and other famous felines star in a new holiday music video that helps shelter cats.
This season, save a little space under the tree for these great beds, toys, collars and outfits for your favorite…
The founder of Big Cat Rescue tells us how they determine when wildlife can be released from the sanctuary.
Dr. Marty Becker shares nine questions you should ask yourself before making the commitment to foster a shelter pet.
In one of our favorite December traditions, we take a look at the top monikers for felines born this year.
A determined red fox hunts for prey by jumping right into the white stuff. (And you thought your snow day was rough.)
Known for her owl-like appearance, the Scottish Fold likes to play fetch and will follow you around the house.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.