Domestic cats sometimes lick and eat plastic bags because they are made of cornstarch

Sometimes domestic cats like to chew or lick plastic bags. It looks troublesome but the more likely reason is that the bag is made of cornstarch which is edible. The bag is also biodegradable. Nowadays they even make bags which are fit for human consumption and they can be broken down into a liquid and drunk! The environmental movement is tackling the catastrophe of conventional plastic bags which are badly polluting the oceans.

Maine Coon licks and chews plastic bag full of potatoes
Maine Coon licks and chews plastic bag full of potatoes. Screenshot from Reddit video.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

So, if your cat is licking a plastic bag, you might check whether it is made of cornstarch. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. They might even try and eat it. They say that cornstarch is not a common allergen for cats. I’m not sure though that I would let my cat eat a plastic bag made of cornstarch. These bags are certified biodegradable and compostable. They contain no polythene. In fact, cornstarch plastic bags are recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly!

I think we’ve suddenly entered utopia in the world the plastic bags! Another reason why a cat might suck a plastic bag is because they have been weaned too early. We see quite a lot of this; adult cats sucking objects including body parts of their human caretaker because they’ve not been weaned. They are still a kitten sucking at the nipple of their mother. They go on doing this forever and it is quite distressing to see really.

Another possibility is that well-known favourite called Pica which is the sucking and eating of non-nutritious objects to which Siamese cats are perhaps more predisposed than others.

On the website there is a ginger Maine coon cat (male) eagerly chewing on a plastic bag containing potatoes. I don’t know the real reason for it except that it must taste interesting (at least). He thinks that it is food and I don’t think that he wants to get at the potatoes inside and therefore, there is something in the plastic which interests him. It is likely to be cornstarch because the bag is made of that product. This might not be the reason. I don’t know if a plastic bag made of cornstarch is strong enough to hold a large quantity of potatoes!

The Internet doesn’t help me on that topic. I have seen cornstarch bags which are quite small and not particularly strong. I have a feeling that they are not manufactured to carry heavy objects such as supermarket shopping but please correct me if I’m incorrect and that assumption.

Most plastic bags are made from synthetic polymers whereas, as I understand it, cornstarch is a naturally occurring polymer. It produces polylactic acid after fermentation. Cornstarch polymers are made from alkenes that are mixed with the cornstarch. This makes them an eco-friendly alternative to petrochemical based plastics.

P.S. The crinkling of plastic bags can cause an auditory induced reflex seizure in cats.


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