snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Critter Country

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 19 December 2007, 10:04 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,881
Hello Kitty Why cats lick plastic bags

Comment: There are a few online claims in archived discussion group posts
from cat owners that their cats like to lick plastic bags, and the reason
given is that they - the plastic bags - contain fish oil. I can't find anything
authoritative on this -- just the pet owners claiming to have heard this theory.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 19 December 2007, 10:09 PM
Aimee Evilpixie's Avatar
Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
Join Date: 20 January 2002
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 12,372
Hello Kitty

Aw, poo. I was hoping this would be a news article actually saying why. Glico Kitty is obsessed with plastic and I can't understand why! What it means is that we don't get to put ribbons on our gifts any more.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 19 December 2007, 10:23 PM
hevach
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I doubt it has anything to do with fish oil. I can't find any authoritative source that most plastic bags contain fish oil - the vast majority are made from ethylene, some are made from cellulose plant byproducts, I can't find any process by which plastic can be made from fish oil. Fish oil doesn't contain polymers to make plastic with.

They probably like it for the noise, which is like a rodent scurrying under dry leaves. My cat loves bags, but will have the same reaction to anything that makes a similar noise, including newspaper and tinfoil.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 19 December 2007, 10:30 PM
Heroic Muse's Avatar
Heroic Muse Heroic Muse is offline
 
Join Date: 23 October 2002
Location: Angier, NC
Posts: 1,585
Default

I don't know if it's the noise. My late Kitty would lick plastic bags endlessly, but she had no interest in tin foil or the like. She loved plastic bags so much that once, when my parents were visiting and threw away a bag she was working on, she climbed up onto the trash can in an effort to reclaim it. We thought there must have been something in the plastic she liked. Either that or she was just screwy (which is entirely possible, given that she wouldn't yield to large dogs in her path and insisted on following me down the sidewalk every time I went anywhere.)
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 19 December 2007, 11:07 PM
Daphodil's Avatar
Daphodil Daphodil is offline
 
Join Date: 22 April 2003
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 858
Default

Plastic bags, Christmas bows, packing tape and photographs don't stand a chance in our house with our two cats. Almost all my wedding photos have tooth marks in them. Must be something might tasty in the makings of all of them.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 20 December 2007, 01:33 AM
Lady Neeva
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Could be worse... my smallest cat Zeebee suffers from Overactive Tongue Disorder... OATD is a horrible affliction that forces her to spend hours living everything. Herself, other cats, the dog, the floor, the blankets on the beds, the walls, and the humans. Even open air!

Yes that's firmly tongue in cheek... but she does spend a lot of time licking things lol. It's toning down now that she's an adult, but as a baby her favorite hobby was laying on peoples feet and licking their toes. Tickled like heck!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 20 December 2007, 05:25 AM
DoubleNaughtSaleen's Avatar
DoubleNaughtSaleen DoubleNaughtSaleen is offline
 
Join Date: 06 November 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 738
Default

TP and tissues must have fish oil too, cause Pica kitty just loooves to chew and eat them, too. He loves the bag's handles especially. However, the hand lotion with orange roughy oil and squalene remains untouched.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 20 December 2007, 06:55 AM
charlie23
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I've had several cats that do the same thing... they'll happily spend half an hour licking away at a plastic bag, and also "paw" smooth surfaces like plastic or glass without using their claws. Since they aren't actually eating the plastic or clawing the stuff I would think that rather than some practicle explanation like fish oil in the plastic they simply enjoy the feeling of the smooth texture.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 20 December 2007, 07:12 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,406
Default

Quote:
I doubt it has anything to do with fish oil. I can't find any authoritative source that most plastic bags contain fish oil - the vast majority are made from ethylene, some are made from cellulose plant byproducts, I can't find any process by which plastic can be made from fish oil. Fish oil doesn't contain polymers to make plastic with.
Perhaps something that is chemically similar to fish oil, or at least som active ingedient in it?
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 20 December 2007, 07:38 AM
hevach
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
Perhaps something that is chemically similar to fish oil, or at least som active ingedient in it?
Fish oil is mostly lipids and fatty acids. While cats certainly like to lick those (I know I have trouble keeping mine out of the butter if left unattended), plastics are carbon chain polymers. Organic plastics start out as hydrocarbons or large carbohydrates (cellulose or collagen, not sugars).

Something else to consider that I didn't think of before is what used to be in the grocery bags. Cats have very good senses of smell, they could be picking up residue from the food that had been in the bag.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 20 December 2007, 07:43 AM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
Perhaps something that is chemically similar to fish oil, or at least som active ingedient in it?
Fish isn't the only thing that attracts cats. Some cats actually don't like fish, which isn't surprising when you consider that domestic cats evolved to hunt rodents and small birds. Some cats are attracted to substances in chlorine bleaches for example.

There could be substances in the plastic that mimic pheromones or other attractant chemicals that aren't food-related. Cats like to taste scents as well as sniffing them. Another cat-licking target noted in Cat Fancy over the years is photographs (conventionally developed and printed ones). Some cats like the residue of chemicals used in printing photos.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 20 December 2007, 12:23 PM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,406
Default

Quote:
Fish isn't the only thing that attracts cats. Some cats actually don't like fish, which isn't surprising when you consider that domestic cats evolved to hunt rodents and small birds. Some cats are attracted to substances in chlorine bleaches for example.

There could be substances in the plastic that mimic pheromones or other attractant chemicals that aren't food-related. Cats like to taste scents as well as sniffing them. Another cat-licking target noted in Cat Fancy over the years is photographs (conventionally developed and printed ones). Some cats like the residue of chemicals used in printing photos.
OK, there's no substitute for experience. I tried licking a plastic bag. It tasted nothing, with a faint taste of dust. I'll put the dust tast down to the bag being stored for a while.

Granted, I've burned away most of my taste buds with strong mustard, chili, wasabi and salsa, so it might just be that the taste is too weak for me.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 20 December 2007, 12:32 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is online now
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 67,519
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by hevach View Post
Something else to consider that I didn't think of before is what used to be in the grocery bags. Cats have very good senses of smell, they could be picking up residue from the food that had been in the bag.
My cats lick plastic bags "grocery" bags that have never contained food.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 20 December 2007, 01:05 PM
mags's Avatar
mags mags is offline
 
Join Date: 23 February 2006
Location: Springboro, OH
Posts: 5,098
Default

I'm just glad to know there are so many other cats that do it, and my cat isn't just insane.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 20 December 2007, 01:10 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is online now
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 67,519
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I'm just glad to know there are so many other cats that do it, and my cat isn't just insane.
Well, we didn't say your cat's not insane.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 20 December 2007, 01:26 PM
Guineh
 
Posts: n/a
Default

One of my cats goes after photo albums, (licking the edges of the plastic-covered pages for what seems like hours at a time) I used to always wonder why he did it. I always figured it must be the smell of the inks (since the photos were printed with an inkjet printer) maybe not ...
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 20 December 2007, 05:21 PM
Blatherskite's Avatar
Blatherskite Blatherskite is offline
 
Join Date: 06 February 2006
Location: Salford, UK
Posts: 3,465
Default

My cat just likes pissing on plastic bags. He does lick photographs addictively, though.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 20 December 2007, 06:48 PM
1958Fury's Avatar
1958Fury 1958Fury is offline
 
Join Date: 05 October 2005
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 4,368
Default

Only one of my three licks plastic bags. The other two just like pouncing on them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Well, we didn't say your cat's not insane.
I'm pretty sure all cats are insane.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 20 December 2007, 06:52 PM
Aimee Evilpixie's Avatar
Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
Join Date: 20 January 2002
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 12,372
Hello Kitty

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1958Fury View Post

I'm pretty sure all cats are insane.
As my boyfriend says, "Saying 'my cat is weird' is like saying, 'my cat has legs.' It's the default setting."
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 20 December 2007, 06:55 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1958Fury View Post
I'm pretty sure all cats are insane.
They just want you to think they are insane. It's all part of the kitty plan for world domination.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 04:32 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.