Here’s the scenario…you just bought a brand new and super fancy cat bed off Amazon. You put it in your cat’s favorite spot and you can’t wait for them settle in and enjoy it.
They don’t run for it right away but you’re patient. You know they’ll love it.
But instead, your cat chooses to settle down on a plastic bag that got left behind from the latest grocery trip! What’s going on here?
Why do cats like to sit on plastic bags so much? While we can’t know for certain, it’s likely that cats like the feeling of being wrapped up and warm along with the unique crinkly sound of a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the more interesting items in a cat’s world and they probably have fun just interacting with them.
But that’s the short answer.
Let’s dive a little deeper and try to understand what’s going on inside the mind of our furry friends. I’ve got 6 possible reasons why cats love to sit on plastic bags so much!
Reason 1: Plastic Bags Are Unique Interesting For Cats
Imagine the world from your cat’s eyes for a moment. Doors are constant and confusing barriers which only humans seem to have full control over. Most objects are too heavy, bulky, or burdensome to move around. You can paw and push on most things…and nothing really happens.
But everything that isn’t too heavy to move around is especially interesting for your cat.
Of course, there’s the joy of cardboard boxes, the thrill of knocking anything small off the counter but there’s also the fun of plastic bags! In fact, plastic bags are one of the most interesting and interactive things that cats can find in their world! They’re easily manipulated into all kinds of shapes, they make a unique crinkly noise that cats love, and they move around in a weird wispy way that’s unlike anything else cats can find. As soon as they put a paw down on one spot another…another spot suddenly pops up!
Okay, I know I sound like a plastic bag hypeman but for your cat these things are awesome and it’s no wonder that cats are attracted to them. It’s possible that laying on them is just one of the many ways that cats have found to interact with plastic bags and everything else draws them to it in the first place.
When you really think about it, there’s not much else in your cat’s world that has the same properties as a plastic bag!
Just check out these cats having a blast with a paper and plastic bag!
Reason 2: Its Your Cat’s Insulation Instinct
Cats naturally seek out warm, comfortable spots and in the wild, this would most likely be a bed of leaves or other foliage. The crinkly, crunch of a plastic bag might mimic the sound of crunchy leaves, and cats might instinctively seek out that comfortable sound.
Plastic bags can provide some insulation and probably more than you might think. If you’ve ever worn a plastic poncho or something similar you’ll learn very quickly that plastic isn’t known for it’s breathable qualities. So not only does a plastic bag make the sound of natural insulation, but it also works.
Reason 3: Cats Like Being Snug
Cats also like being wrapped up and snug.
But they aren’t the only ones.
The Journal of Veterinary Behavior released a study that reviews the impact of a pressure wrap on canine anxiety. A pressure wrap is a type of canine clothing that applies light but noticeable pressure across the torso. Researchers found a positive impact on heart rate and overall anxiety when dogs have a pressure wrap in the form of a Thunder Shirt. A Thunder Shirt is a snug shirt that dogs can wear as a pressure wrap and it’s primarily marketed to help dogs with anxiety.
But there are also Thunder Shirts for cats that you can check out on Amazon.
While the Thunder Shirt may be an extreme example of being snug as a bug in a rug it’s not hard to see how a plastic bag could give the same kind of feeling. Plastic bags easily mold to the shape of a cat and could give them the same feeling that we get when we’re wrapped up in the covers!
Some cats like just plop down on the bag without much prep but others really seem to take the time to make the bag fit around them exactly how they want!
Reason 4: It Has To Do With Beef Tallow
Not only do cats love to lay on plastic bags but they’ve also been known to lick, chew and chomp on them too. While it’s still a bit unclear what’s going on here, the most likely answer has to do with beef tallow. Tallow is rendered fat and it’s used in the production of most plastic bags. According to veterinarian Arnold Plotnick, it’s likely that some cats can detect the faint fatty smell and like the taste which leads them to lick and chew it.
Remember, cats have a sense of smell that’s 14 times stronger than humans so just because we can’t smell the beef tallow doesn’t mean our cats can’t!
But what does this have to do with laying down on a plastic bag? It’s all part of an overall attraction to plastic bags that leads cats to explore the bags in the first place and then decide they would make a good bed.
It’s also possible that they enjoy being around the smell the same way that humans will light a food scented candle. While we might choose something like fresh cookies or vanilla extracts cats decide to savor the scent of plastic and beef fat!
Reason 5: They Like The Crinkly Sound
Cats have very good hearing. They can actually hear ultrasonic sounds that humans have no chance of ever hearing. But this isn’t any accident- mice also communicate on ultrasonic levels so it only makes sense that cats would develop the ability to hear their favorite prey.
Reason 6: They Like All The Attention
What happens when your cat does something with a plastic bag?
They get all kinds of attention from their favorite person (that’s you)! While there are clearly plenty of other reasons for cats to enjoy plastic bags, after a while, they’ll learn that having fun with a plastic bag also means they get attention from their human!
Dangers Of Plastic Bags
But plastic bags aren’t all fun and games. Laying down on a plastic bag is certainly safe but things can quickly get out of hand.
Make Sure Cats Don’t Get Stuck In Plastic Bags
Plastic bags can be suffocation hazards and some cats may get too excited playing with bags to the point that they get stuck. Sadly, it can happen faster than you might think. It’s a much more common problem for dogs who will stick their nose deep into a bag to get the last bit of crumbs but it’s a real risk for cats too.
Always make sure you supervise your cat during plastic bag playtime or get a very clear understanding of their individual playstyle. You need to be especially careful with kittens who are not only more curious but much smaller and could have even more difficulty getting out of the bag.
It’s also best to avoid letting cats play or lay on larger plastic bags since these only enhance the risks.
Don’t Let Cats Eat Plastic
While it might be cute to see cats attack, chomp, and chew plastic bag ingesting plastic bags could lead to serious health concerns. Plastic isn’t easily digested by your cat and can easily get stuck in the intestines. This can quickly lead to major problems and may require surgery. While it’s somewhat uncommon for cats to eat inedible objects, it can happen and if your cat is particularly interested in the smell of beef tallow sitting and laying could turn to chewing and eating.
In most cases, we can’t know for sure why cats do the things they do. Different cats will also have different motivations for sitting and laying on plastic bags. But one thing is pretty certain…most cats love plastic bags and can’t help but interact with them including having a good nap on them!