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Destructive Chewing by Cats

How to Curb that Chewing Habit

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Cat Behavior & Training > Cat Behavior 101 > Destructive Chewing by Cats

Destructive chewing by cats is undesirable, first, because of the potential danger to the cat, and second, because of damage to family valuables. Causes of destructive chewing by cats can range from teething in kittens to curiosity, to boredom, and even (surprise!) because of a nutrient deficiency. Kittens, like human babies, explore with their mouths, and these habits carry through to adulthood.

We'll explore here the kinds of things cats typically chew, possible causes, and ways to prevent destructive chewing.

Wires and Cords

Chewing on these cords poses hazards to your cat, from minor shock to death. Cats primarily chew on cords out of boredom, especially if left alone during the day. Try to provide plenty of "play-alone" toys for your cat or kitten, including wall or door mounted toys they can swat or bat around, cat towers to explore, with attached toys for added interest, even an arrangement of cardboard boxes on the floor to form a tunnel, with holes cut through the sides.

To handle the cord situation itself, you need to devise a way to cover the cords, discourage access to them, or make them unpalatable for chewing.

  • Cover the cords: Many computer supply stores carry pre-split hollow tubing for covering cords and electrical wires, as well as kits for managing computer cords. If you're handy with a utility knife, you can purchase flexible poly tubing in several diameters in most building supply or hardware stores. Slit one side of the tubing, then cut it to length for each cord. You might also try larger "corrugated" tubing to run several wires through, if that works for you.
  • Discourage access to the cords: Try applying several rows of double-sided sticky tape to the floor surrounding a large cord tangle (such as frequently happens with computers). Cats will be reluctant to walk across the tape. Another excellent tool for keeping cats out of any undesirable area is the SssCat! cannister by Multivet. This product is a three-pronged training tool which works with a motion detector atop the cannister which triggers a high-pitched alarm and a quick spray of harmless material. It's a lot more expensive than bitter apple spray, but well worth the cost in its versatility for training purposes.
  • Make the Cords Taste Bad: By far one of the best training tools for any kind of destructive chewing is bitter apple spray. It is guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your cats mouth, one that he won't long forget.

Houseplants

Cats have a natural desire for greenery to chew, and your live houseplants might become a target. Some of these plants can be extremely toxic to cats, and for your cat's safety you need to learn to recogize and get rid of these plants. Check this list to see if any of your house plants are on it, then either discard or make completely unavailable those plants. For other plants, try the bitter apple spray or the Ssscat! product.

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