Why do cats like bags? This is a question that pops up rather often among cat owners. The other day when I got back from shopping, Nora started playing with one of the bags that fell on the floor. I swear, it was the best entertainment watching my furball go crazy with it.
She jumped around whenever the bag would touch her, then tried to cautiously move it with her paws. When she realized she could stick her head inside it, that’s exactly what she did. And that’s when the party started. Of course, I didn’t let her struggle, but the way she tried to pull it off was absolutely hilarious.
Cats are by nature curious and playful animals. They’ll explore every corner and try to play with anything they find. Apparently, bags are no exception. That’s why Nora started chasing her new yellow “friend” and clearly enjoyed it!
If you’re one of those cat owners who like to learn more about these interesting mischievous creatures like I am, you’ve probably googled why cats like bags. Time to find out, don’t you think?
Why do cats like bags?
Nora is a little devil, but that was actually the first time she’d played with a plastic bag. Since it was really obvious that she liked it, I decided to educate myself more.
After delving into the topic, I came to realize that not every cat goes beserk for bags (be it plastic or paper). Some of them are absolutely terrified of the sound the bag makes and will run away at the first sight of the noisy monster.
Similar to how we react when we hear a loud and sudden noise, your furry friend may jump when she hears you shaking the plastic bag, just like she does when you use a vacuum cleaner, for example. The main reason is that she doesn’t understand where the noise is coming from. Her survival instinct tells her to flee, so that’s what she does.
However, some cats (my Nora, for example) appreciate plastic bags and will confiscate one as soon as they get the chance. Why do cats like plastic bags so much, though? Some of these reasons may surprise you.
1. It feels safe and warm
Even though they don’t feel threatened in the comfort of your home, cats have that survival instinct in their DNA. As their ancestors would hide from predators in caves, lairs, and dens, your homie will do the same with boxes and bags.
When they’re in a bag, they feel protected and they narrow their field of vision, so it’s possible for them to identify every potential threat before it reaches them. Also, when your feline is curled up in a bag (or any other dark and small space), it’s possible that she’s stressed out and this is helping her calm down.
Her anxiety levels rise when she’s upset, and instead of having a conflict, she’ll rather walk away and avoid the problem altogether. This is her perfect spot for reducing anxiety and stress levels. Don’t be surprised if she pushes a box or bag into one of the corners of your living room and stays there.
Also, cats are comfortable at higher temperatures since their body temperature is naturally warmer than ours by about 20°F (around 7°C). That’s why they’re all too keen to curl up in that bag and take a long warm nap.
You know they sleep up to 20 hours a day, right? Go figure that they pick the coziest spots to snooze!
2. It smells like food
“Why do cats like bags, especially plastic ones? Every time she spots a bag, she goes for it and doesn’t want to let go and I’m wondering what could be the reason?”
Well, if you just returned from grocery shopping, those plastic bags probably smell like food, so your little feline will definitely be attracted to them. Without a doubt, she’ll disturb you while you’re trying to put everything in its place. Plastic is porous, so it easily absorbs the smell of its previous contents.
Perhaps you bought Marmite and a bit of it leaked out. You cleaned it before you got those bags in the kitchen, but that little devil can smell everything! Of course, Marmite has a strong scent so she can easily pick it up, but the same goes with other food.
Her nose is a powerful tool. Don’t be surprised if you see her licking or chewing that plastic bag you couldn’t move to the cupboard before she “stole” it. She’ll want to taste whatever was inside.
However, chewing on a plastic bag may indicate that your feline has some dental problems. If you’ve noticed some other changes in her behavior or if she’s showing any signs of health issues, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
3. It’s an interesting toy substitute
Do you know how one part of the plastic bag pops up when you gently press the other? It’s an interesting toy substitute for your feline, so she’ll enjoy chasing it around. It’s lightweight, and it can fly!
In all seriousness, though, your furbaby adores plastic bags because her happiness increases exponentially while playing with them. That said, it’s definitely not a healthy alternative for toys.
They’d be much better off with some real cat toys. There are also some healthier alternatives to plastic bags, but more on that later.
The reason cats like bags may lie in the fact that bags are actually the most interactive object in their world. It’s super easy for your feline to change the bag’s shape and position. That’s not something they’re used to, which makes it different from their familiar toys.
The noise that plastic or paper bags make when you move them around or step on them is really interesting (for the cats who aren’t afraid of them, of course). If your furball jumps into hunting mode whenever she hears that crinkling sound, she’s in the mood for playing.
4. She smells tallow
This may be a pretty long shot; some cats can smell the tallow in plastic bags. Tallow (melted animal fat) is used in producing almost every plastic bag. That’s actually one of the main reasons your feline chooses to lick or chew them.
Our furbabies have a much stronger sense of smell than we do, so they can pick up even that faint fatty tallow you didn’t even know about until now. I mean, we both know that cats are attracted to fatty food, such as butter, beef jerky, or nuts. So, is it really surprising that she doesn’t smell something from that bag?
5. She wants your attention
It’s simple – she may just want your attention. If you haven’t played with her in a while and it seems like that bag of yours is more important, then of course she’ll pounce on it and start dragging it around. Your cat needs to spend some quality time with you, and you have to fulfill that.
I mean, you signed up for it the moment you welcomed her to your home. Don’t let her get bored before you decide to take that feather toy and play with her. That sneaky little devil knows that she needs just one plastic bag to have you all for herself, and she’s definitely going to jump on it.
Are plastic bags dangerous for cats?
Well, there isn’t a yes or no answer to this question. If your feline is just playing with a plastic bag, there shouldn’t be any major problems. She could entwine her paws in the bag handles, so you’ll definitely need to help her there.
Also, make sure she doesn’t actually eat the bag, because you may catch her munching on it. There’s a condition called pica that makes your furbaby eat non-food things in an attempt to get nutrients from them. So, this may be what’s actually happening if she’s not letting that bag out of her mouth.
Even though it may seem that she really enjoys it, it’s not recommended for your feline to lick plastic bags either. She may ingest chemicals that contain pheromones, which could cause some medical issues.
Nowadays, shopping bags are made of biodegradable materials with corn starch, which some cats are attracted to. So, that could also be one of the reasons she’s licking those plastic bags. It may also be that your furball likes them because of their smooth texture.
Plastic bags are not extremely dangerous for your furbaby, since all of these bad cases rarely happen. However, you should definitely pay attention when she starts playing with it especially if you have a kitten.
No matter how much your cat may like bags, they can be a threat when she doesn’t know how to handle them properly.
Are there healthier alternatives to plastic bags?
You know they are, right? There’s always an option of paper bags (that are healthier for the environment too). She enjoys the sound those bags produce when she steps on them, and she moves them around easily with her paws.
You can also give her cloth bags she can play with, and not only will cats enjoy playing with them, but they’ll definitely love the fact that those bags can keep them warm. And here’s one pawsible plot twist – infuse them with catnip! She’s sure to enjoy the buzz and those bags will be her favorite toy from now on.
You can also trick her into eating certain cat-safe human foods, like celery, to keep her busy while you unpack those grocery bags and move them to the safe place, away from her reach.
The bottom line is, there is no concrete answer to the question “Why do cats like bags?”, we can only guess. If you can, though, keep her away from plastic bags, but don’t panic if she opts to play with one. She’ll be just fine if you keep a watchful eye on her.