A question that has come up more than once:
“Our cat has recently started chewing on our electrical cords … alarm clocks, cell phone chargers, you name it. We are worried about electrocution…suggestions!?”
It’s very worrisome cat behavior, I know.
Our cat Phil became a chewer too – and we needed to do something before it was too late.
My little “ultimate guide to stopping worrisome cat chewing” includes 6 tactics to try, depending on your cat’s situation.
1. Cover cords
Cords and wires are concern number one. An economical way to cover them is with pre-split hollow tubing from computer and home improvement stores.
One tubing product highly recommended by a woman with several chew-happy cats is American Terminal SL500-100 1/2-Inch Split Loom Tubing. She says it’s more likely to fit than the 1/4 inch size.
2. Give them something less dangerous to chew on.
I’ve got two suggestions that our family chewer, Phil, has embraced wholeheartedly.
1. A rubbery dog chew bone. Canine yes, but some cats like them too. Phil likes this small “dental” one that has little tiny nubs on it that he can rub against. It’s about 4″ long and 1″ wide and looks like this:
2. Primal raw chicken necks (ideal once per week for dental health). I think this is a fairly new offering from Primal. The real reason we started using them once per week is because it was recommended by their vet for dental health maintenance.
3. Deter with Bitter Apple Spray (with caution)
At first, I wanted to make Bitter apple spray on cords my number one recommendation because it’s the fastest and easiest way to quickly keep your cat away from all cords. Typically, after a couple encounters with bitter apple on a previously “tasty” cord, cats will avoid all similar cords.
However, here’s the caution: You don’t want your cat to eat much of this! The issue is that it has herbal extracts in it, which are much more mild and dilute than essential oils. But because essential oils are toxic to cats, some cat guardians may want to avoid anything with herbal extracts too. I don’t think there’s much risk a cat would keep eating this yucky stuff, but if your cat keeps going back to it, wipe it off of everything and stop using it.
Tip: The most popular option for cats and cords seems to be the Grannick’s Bitter Apple for Dogs Spray. Though the spray version is packaged for dogs, it’s easier to apply to cords than the cat version, which only has a dabber top.
4. Have their teeth examined.
No, not their head, their teeth. : )
Sometimes cats chew weird things because they have some tooth or gum discomfort, so make sure your vet finds your cat’s dental health acceptable.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the chewer in our family was the one diagnosed with a mild case of gingivitis.
5. Fight the boredom factor: get more fun stuff
It’s believed that chewing can be due to feline “boredom” in some cases.
Indoor cats, in particular, may get restless. They need a more cat-fun environment and things to play with while you’re away.
- Make sure your cat has enough to climb and jump on. Cat trees (like this one our cats like) and climbing shelves make a big difference in a cat’s life. The new Catification series by Jackson Galaxy and Modern Cat offers lots of ideas.
- Check out the JW Pet Company Spring String Cat Toy that attaches to a door knob and has a “bungee mouse” effect (oh yes).
- Entertain cats while you’re away with the ever-popular Turbo Scratcher. Many cats love to play with that ball that really gathers momentum in there. Phil digs it.
6. Make sure your cat is getting all nutrients needed.
You probably already feed your cat wholesome food that at least meets the AAFCO guidelines for minimum nutrients.
But if you are feeding a homemade diet, check your recipes carefully – your cat may be missing a nutrient and this can cause “pica,” an attraction to munching unusual things. (Common mistakes with homemade cat food is the topic of a future post.)
I hope these suggestions give you more peace of mind by keeping your little chewer gnawing on more reasonable things – like cat food.