There’s no stranger relationship than the one between cats and plastic bags. You may find your cat stalking (and pouncing) on one, lying on one as she catches some Zs, and even chewing on one when you’re not looking! But with a house full of blankets, furniture, and cat beds, you can’t help but wonder: Why do cats lay on plastic bags?
Cats lay on plastic bags because they make a crackling noise, keep them warm, and may even smell like food if it’s a grocery store or food bag. Cats are also known for sleeping wherever they’re comfortable, and cats could be “marking” the bag as their territory when they lay on it.
As bizarre as it seems for your cat to lay (or sleep) on plastic bags, it’s actually not all that unusual among felines. To learn about all of the reasons behind your cat’s non-fading desire to lay on plastic bags, read on!
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6 Reasons Your Cat Lays on Plastic Bags
Every time you come home from the grocery store, your cat immediately darts into the kitchen and lays on the first plastic bag she can find. Your cat may lay on plastic bags for no other reason than “because she can” (just like she pushes cups off the counter or hides your hair ties between the couch cushions).
If you’re wondering what can trigger this odd behavior, here are six possible explanations:
It Smells Like Food
Did you know that cats can have up to 80 million olfactory receptors? That means Fluffy’s nose may be up to 14 times more sensitive than yours, and a possible reason she can’t get enough of those plastic bags: They smell like food!
Your cat may choose that grocery store bag as her new bed because she can still smell the remnants of the raw ground beef, rotisserie chicken, or package of deli meat that was once in it. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if your kitty begins to lick or nibble on the plastic bag as she lays on it to treat herself to a snack!
It Makes a Satisfying Noise
When your cat lays down on that plastic bag and snuggles into a comfortable position, it makes a distinct crackling noise—similar to her favorite crinkle toy during playtime. There are two schools of thought on why cats love this sound so much.
It sounds just like those comfy, dry leaves as a cat goes to “make her bed” in the wild, and it reminds your cat of the sound of a bird chirping or a mouse’s ultrasonic communication. As a result, the plastic bag may give your cat a sense of comfort and even pique her prey drive.
It Acts As a Bed
Cats don’t need a comfy bed or blanket to get comfortable and relax. In fact, many cats will lay on just about anything you place on a surface, whether that’s your wallet, a fresh T-shirt, a sheet of paper, or a plastic bag from the department store. Chances are, your cat’s odd knack for laying on plastic bags stems from her desire to try out different beds (even if she has her own!).
It Keeps Them Warm
Cats can survive in the wild when temperatures drop below 32°F, so having your indoor thermostat set between 67-72°F won’t put your cat in danger of hypothermia. However, that doesn’t mean your cat doesn’t get chilly now and then. An open window or lying near the air conditioning vent could make your cat want to warm up a little.
And since plastic is a generally decent heat insulator, your cat may be opting for this odd bedding choice to keep her body heat high. It’s the same reason your cat likes to lie on your computer, in front of the television, or near the space heater.
It Provides a Sense of Safety
When your cat lies down on a plastic bag (particularly if it’s resting on carpet), your cat will sink down ever-so-slightly, and the plastic bag will gently mold to your cat’s shape. And thanks to the static cling features of plastic bags, they may give your cat a comfy “wrapped-up” feeling. There’s a good chance your cat lounges on plastic bags because it makes her feel safe and secure—similar to how she feels while snuggling with you!
It’s Their Territory
Cats will mark just about anything they can find, fortunately without peeing or pooping on objects if your cat is fixed. As such, your cat may be lying on her “plastic bag” bed because she wants it to be her territory. There are a few clear-cut ways to figure out if territorial behavior is causing your cat to lay on plastic bags, including:
- Rubbing her face on the bag
- Kneading the bag before finally getting settled
- Scratching the bag and then lying on it
Your cat has scent glands in her paws, cheek, and forehead (among other places), so these behaviors signify your cat “marking” what’s hers. If your cat does any—or all—of these things each time she goes to lie down on the plastic bag, she’s merely “claiming” it.
Why Do Cats Like Sleeping On Plastic?
Cats sleep on plastic bags (and plastic) for many of the same reasons they lay on them as soon as you come home from the supermarket.
For the most part, plastic is an excellent “bed” for cats because of the warmth it provides. When it’s particularly chilly in your home, or there’s a cold draft creeping through the window, plastic materials will keep your cat feeling warm, secure, and comfortable.
But your cat’s knack for sleeping on plastic bags or plastic (in general) may have another more reasonable explanation: She doesn’t like her current bed. Cats are very particular about their beds, and that $300 orthopedic cat bed may not be comfortable for your kitty.
Consider giving your cat more places to sleep around the house, including:
- A cardboard box, wicker basket, or laundry basket with clothes or blankets piled up
- A small, round, cushiony cat bed that your kitty can curl up in
- A cat tree (for the cats that like to be up high)
- Your bed (about 75% of cat owners allow kitty to sleep with them)
Of course, your cat may genuinely enjoy laying on plastic for her own reasons—like the sound, warmth, and sense of security. Don’t assume that your cat’s desire to lay on plastic is a last-resort when it comes time to go to bed!
Unsure about why your cat refuses to sleep in his bed? Watch the Jackson Galaxy video below that’ll explain possible reasons!
Warning: Plastic Bags Can Be Dangerous For Cats
Your cat’s love of lying on plastic bags sounds harmless at first, but it can become a medical concern if your cat takes it too far. Some possible concerns and dangers regarding cats and plastic bags include:
- Eating the plastic (large pieces of plastic caught in your cat’s intestines can cause a blockage, often requiring surgical removal)
- Suffocation (a cat sticking her head in a plastic bag can cause her to get stuck, leading to possible suffocation within five minutes)
- Chemicals (most plastic bags are treated with some type of chemical, which can be dangerous if your cat consumes the plastic or has sensitive skin)
While your cat may love to lay on plastic bags in her free time, you should keep them off the floor and in the cabinet. The possible dangers of your cat interacting with plastic bags are far more crucial than your cat’s desire for a crinkly, warm bed.
Cats do many bizarre things, and lying on plastic bags is merely one of them. Your cat is most likely lounging on plastic bags because it provides her with a decent amount of warmth, comfort, and security that allows her to lull herself to sleep.
However, it may not be a great idea to allow your cat to lay on, play with, or chew on plastic bags. Although a cute and strange behavior, plastic bags pose suffocation, chemical, and ingestion concerns among cats and should be out of reach.
- VCA Hospitals: Why Cats Sniff Butts
- Study: The role of ultrasonic vocalizations in mouse communication
- Wikipedia: Thermal insulation
- Pets WebMD: Pets in Your Bed
- VCA Hospitals: Ingestion of Foreign Bodies in Cats
- AVMA: Snack bags pose suffocation risk to pets
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.