A dangerous household item cats often chew is electrical cord and wire. As with plastic bags, cats can find the oral sensation of chewing on cords pleasant. Kittens in particular can chew cords as part of their exploratory development. Chewing on cords is a dangerous activity that should be actively prevented as it presents a choking hazard, as well as the possibility of injury and death from electrocution. It also can obviously damage your household electronics and cause electrical fires.
What’s so great about chewing cords?
One reason that cats will chew cords can be related to their dental health, and if you find your cat engaging in these activities, a trip to the veterinarian to make sure her teeth are in good order is important. You may also want to discuss with your veterinarian your cat’s diet, as chewing on odd objects can be a symptom of insufficiency in daily dietary needs. Finally, boredom can be a major factor in habits like these. You should adopt a plan combining management (to keep your cat safe) and enrichment (to engage physical and mental needs).
Tips to keep your cat from chewing cords.
- Consider wrapping cords in rubber covers that can be purchased at most stores that sell electrical and home repair supplies. Putting the cords inside PVC tubing is also an option. You can also rub them with a citrus scent, which cats dislike and will avoid.
- Providing your cats with enrichment will play a big role in dissuading them from chewing inappropriate items. Miranda K. Workman, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and Adjunct Professor of Animal Learning at Canisius College, communicated to me, “Addressing a cat’s sensory needs: smell, taste, texture and sound.” If your cat likes chewing on cords, find items in your local pet store that approximate those sensations, such as rubber chew toys. Look for items that are different from these as well, so your cats are able to enjoy a wide variety of textures and sounds when they chew and play. Says Workman, “I even use puppy Nylabones® as chew toys for very orally focused cats.”
- Increase your daily play with your cat as well, which can help tire your cat out both physically and mentally. Look for toys that require you to be engaged with the play, such as “fishing wand” type toys. Interactive food toys, where your cat has to hunt for food within the toy, are also a way to engage feline minds and bodies. Training (specifically clicker training) your cat to do simple behaviors such as sit, down and other tricks is also a wonderful way to increase your cat’s exercise and it’s a wonderful bonding activity.
For some additional resources on cat enrichment ideas, the American Association of Feline Practitioner provides a helpful list. If you need more help, find a professional through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, the Animal Behavior Society, and the IAABC.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.