It all started when Rabbit was about a year old. I saw him chewing on an icy bottle of Ozarka. Since he's a pedigreed Turkish Van I was surprised he didn't ask for Evian or Fuji. I figured he was teething and the cold bottle soothed his gums. The licking and chewing went on over the next two years. I didn't think much about it.
Turkish Vans are a rare, natural-born breed of cats who thrived in the southeast region of Turkey before being recognized by the UK-based Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in 1969. Rabbit runs hot, like Herman who is part Van, part Angora. Despite their lack of an undercoat, resulting in their coat feeling like cashmere or rabbit fur, they seem world weary in summer heat, but thrive during the winter months. Watching Rabbit hug the cold bottles when it was 85 degrees outside didn't spark my Cat Mom Intuition until one day I saw this on the floor:
No indeed, it sure wasn't a hairball. Not when I unraveled it and saw it was the handle to one of those super cheapo grocery bags.
I immediately confiscated every bag in the house, leaving me without my cache to dispose of used cat litter. Instead I bought extra large school lunch bags, and they have worked better in that they don't come with stealth holes in the bottom folds that leak stinky litter from the box, through the house, to the garbage can. With so many cats, I also have many litter boxes, so each box gets their own stash of lunch bags. They open pretty wide, so the scoop doesn't miss very often.
But I still have a problem with Rabbit craving plastic. Even though I tell the bagger to use paper instead of plastic when I buy groceries, not all stores have paper available, so the plastic bags still find a way into my home. And if I don't immediately trash them... guess who who finds them? I've attempted to do away with plastic bottles as well, but that has to be a conscious choice, and so far Ray hasn't embraced the refillable Brita bottles.
I am honestly afraid Rabbit will one day ingest a plastic bag, and that will be the end of him. For those who live with a Turkish Van, you already know it's like having a three-year-old child underfoot, always observing with a keen sense of what is wrong, and totally embracing it. Knowing I do not want him to have plastic naturally makes him want it all the more. I am totally serious. After taking a plastic straw, a plastic toy, a plastic baggie away from him, Rabbit watches me bury it in the bottom of the kitchen trash bin, only to wait until I leave the room before he tips the bin over and digs for it.
It's not like he doesn't have any toys. Oh My Cod, there are toys everywhere... including the notorious plastic hanger hooks that Rabbit is passionate about fetching. Hmmm. I now wonder if those hooks were the gateway drug to his grocery bag addiction?
I've researched why cats enjoy the taste of plastic. Is it the attractive chemical taste? The odor of food, like chicken? Is it Pica? OCD? Stress? Just plain ol cussedness? There doesn't seem to be any one answer, just a lot of theories.
Whatever the true attraction to plastic is, it's more dangerous to Rabbit than Glen Close was to Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction. I pray my beloved AssRabbit outgrows his addiction, but I'm not sure that will happen. So Ray and I are hyper alert to anything lying around the house that would be attractive to Rabs. With so many cats underfoot we already pick up "smalls" like paper clips, rubber bands, and bottle caps and rings. The rings used to be a great fetch toy with our beloved Buddy the tabby, but when one of the Gang started chewing them apart in later years, we banned them.
I recently told Rabbit that if he kept licking plastic, his face would one day morph to show the catastrophic results of his substance abuse:
The Wonderpurr Gang has never had a member with addiction problems, so this is a new one on me. Other than disposing of the bags as soon as they come into the house, I'm at a loss as to what else to do. So, suggestions are welcome.
All that being said, I'm truly THANKFUL that I caught Rabbit's addiction early, and am now hyper-aware of anything that might end up in his mouth.