Our feline friends are notorious for their finicky nature. And oftentimes, even the simplest of things can send them zooming in the other direction. One of the things that many of us cat people know that cats can’t stand is aluminum foil. The sheer sight of it can send them running—and if they touch it, then it’s game over. But, have you ever wondered why it is that cats hate aluminum foil? Well, since our cats are complex beings, there are a few reasons. Let’s take a closer look…
First off, since we know many cats hate aluminum foil, we shouldn’t use it to negatively reinforce them
There’s an old wives tale that if you want to keep your cats off your counters, then you should lay aluminum foil across the counters to teach them a lesson so to speak. But this negative reinforcement on your cat could have consequences, and since aluminum foil is slick, it can also cause them to slide, and sliding across countertops is certainly not safe. Instead, try positive reinforcement methods with your cat. (More on positive reinforcement methods to practice with your cat here.) Remember, cats have the ability to learn the word “no”—it just takes practice. And they have the ability to understand the different tones in your voice better than you might realize.
So, why is it that cats hate aluminum foil? It lies mostly in the senses
Think about a thing you can’t stand. It could be a food that reminds you of something icky or a texture that makes your senses crawl. Now, imagine for a moment that your sense of touch is 3X stronger. This is why when your cat doesn’t like something that it touches, it really doesn’t like that particular thing. And cats have a fight or flight system like no other, and it goes without saying that they’re naturally untrusting of new things unfamiliar.
When it comes to aluminum foil and cats, this slick and cool texture combined with crinkling noises is quick to send them flying because it sends their senses into overload. Cats can become stimulated easily because their sense of touch is far more intense than our own. Our feline friends are highly intelligent creatures, and since they can’t figure out what aluminum foil actually is, this is why they’re so quick to run from it.
Just like it’s not okay to scare your cat with cucumbers, you shouldn’t think to scare your cat with aluminum foil either. Intentionally scaring a cat can have lasting effects on their mental health, and obviously, this is not something any caring cat owner would want.
Why aren’t cats afraid of crinkle sounds in general?
When it comes to toys that crinkle, this can excite your kitty because, in their minds, it might make them think of a tasty mouse rustling in leaves. It sends their natural predatory instincts into action. Those crinkle toys, or paper bags, or plastic bags are exciting to them, and they’ll often go wild having a good romp with them. Additionally, cats are drawn to plastic bags because of their chemical makeup.
Of course, we’ve come a long way in this modern day and age, but there are still many everyday products that contain things that we have no idea why they do. When it comes to plastic bags, it seems that many plastic bags contain tallow, which is an animal byproduct. Animal advocates have raised awareness as to why commercial shopping bags contain this, along with other everyday items that contain animal byproducts. Such as shampoos, conditioners, and toothpaste, for example.
Plastic bag fact cat lovers should keep in mind when they ask themselves why cats lick plastic: plastics are treated with stearates, a saturated fatty acid found in animal and vegetable fat.
Business Insider explains that many commercial shopping bags contain these “slip agent” chemicals which are derived from the stearic acid in animal fat. Manufacturers do this because it’s inexpensive and helps to prevent the polymers from sticking onto the metals during manufacturing and to prevent from clinging afterward.
So, when your cat licks plastic simply because they are doing this because they want to get a taste of that corresponding smell hitting their nose.
In response to concerned consumer demand, certain plastic makers have made changes to their plastic shopping bags to offer an animal-friendly alternative that’s also biodegradable. These options might be safer for the environment and serve to protect wildlife, but the cornstarch that many of them contain is alluring to cats given the smell and the taste of them. Which means—you guessed it—cats still want to lick them.